I had such a lovely hack on Echo today. She was relaxed, forward going and a pleasure to ride. As we were hacking at lunchtime, we had no time restrictions due to light, so were able to go a bit further. We reached some amazing tracks, where in the past I have been running with my dog, but had only dreamed of riding on them. They are like a grid system through the forest, with mile after mile of sandy tracks. They are perfect for riding on; we had some lovely long trots and one good stretch of canter, where we were able to get into a good rhythm. She even had a bit of a head-toss and a grunt at one point - I'm pretty sure that's a sign that she was enjoying herself, as that's what she does when she's excited in the field.
Actually, today was a great confidence boost for me, as I felt for the first time that I could control the speed of Echo's trot and canter while we were out. Previously, I have felt that she was very dependent on the horse in front, but today I was definitely the one controlling the pace. After our canter, we came to a really long field, where my friend asked if I'd like another canter. However, I was quite keen to just trot, as I don't want Echo to think that she goes into canter every time. As we set off, the horse in front started quite quickly; I think she was expecting to canter! Echo was perfect and stayed a good distance behind - not even considering going into canter. What a star!
We have been starting to prepare for next weekend's show. I have now finished pulling her mane, so that I can plait it more easily. I am working my way through the forest of her tail and am planning to trim her head tomorrow. She isn't clipped, but she has a very hairy head and to show it off properly, I think it needs a bit of a trim. This will also get her prepared for the noise of the clippers, although I would really like to avoid clipping her this year. However, you can't really make plans with this sort of thing - we'll see how it goes. I have now entered the show and we are going to do three in-hand classes. We're doing 'Youngstock - any breed', 'Cob' and 'Coloured' classes, and if we have the time and inclination, we may have a go at the 'Prettiest Mare' class! It's only a tiny local show, and should just be something different to do! I will make sure I take plenty of pictures to put on here!