I just realised that I haven't written for a week and this is rather slack of me. It is partly because we have not progressed all that much further than last Wednesday, although training a horse is inevitably a slow process. Actually, that is a slightly negative attitude, as we have had lots of mini adventures in the last week. On Sunday, the yard I keep her at held a hunter trial and so the place was inundated with ponies charging about. The atmosphere was great, but full of anticipation of speed and adrenaline. Despite this, I rode her in the outdoor school, where she could see everything and hear the loud speakers going, and she was very well behaved! It didn't help that it poured with rain as soon as we got into the school and although it passed quickly, we were both drenched from head to toe! She had a certain spring in her step, but was very good.
Since I last wrote, our steering has improved greatly. She can now turn and trot on a circle easily on the right rein and is developing her ability to do this on the left rein. She finds the left rein tricky, and had been becoming slightly nappy on the left. She wasn't being naughty, she just seemed to get a bit stuck on the left. This has improved a lot - I just have to set her up carefully for turns on the left. I have to be about five steps ahead of her, with my seat, upper body, outside leg and hands in order to stop her right shoulder escaping out and dragging us across the arena!
I am gradually working through any physical difficulties that might be causing this problem on the left: today she had her teeth rasped for the first time (brave girlie) and the vet said that they were slightly uneven, with some sharp edges. I had thought this might be the case, as she managed to chew through two bits in a week! I thought I was being nice to her, riding her first in a nathe straight bar, then in a happy mouth with a roller. However, she made light work of making huge teeth marks in both bits, so no more Mr Nice Guy - a metal bit it is! She actually seems happier in the new metal bit; she didn't really like the happy mouth, as I think having a centre lozenge meant that there was too much going on in her mouth. You live and learn!!
What else have we achieved this week? Well, she had a day off on Monday, then on Tuesday I had thought I would just lunge her again, but she was going so nicely on the lunge that I wanted to ride her - just for a bit. However, there was nobody around to help me as we were indoors, so I just got on! I don't know where the new found bravery came from - I just stood on a bucket and climbed on board! This was the first time I had ridden her without being lunged on her first, and the first time I had not had a leg-up to get on, and she coped very well. She was a little whizzier than usual, but I think that is partly because the indoor school is quite small, and she finds it hard to balance. I rode her in there again today, hoping that as she gets used to it, she will see that it is the same as being ridden outside.
The next major hurdle will be the first hack, which will hopefully take place later this week. I can now stop, start and turn on request, so I really have to bite the bullet and take her out. I have never been very brave hacking out, so it is going to take everything I've got to be the confident leader she needs to guide her through the big wide world. We will be going with a couple of riding school ponies, so that she has bomb-proof friends to show her the way. It should be fun, but keep everything crossed for us!