Echo had a day off on Friday, as when I arrived, all prepared to work on what I had covered in my lesson with John, the farrier was about to arrive and I wasn't willing to risk him turning up and leaving again because I wasn't ready (which he did the previous week!) so I just gave her a good groom until he got there. It was nice actually - I'm often in such a hurry to tack her up, that I don't have time to enjoy grooming her. When Gary arrived, I then sat with her while she was shod. She is fine to shoe and was tied up with a hay net, but she was in a nosy, affectionate mood, so she spent the hour sniffing my hair, nibbling my chin and trying to undo every zip and button on my coat. Very cute!
I rode her on Saturday in the indoor school and she was absolutely brilliant. She was slightly obstinate in her walk/halt transitions for the first few minutes, but I was organised and persistent, only accepting good transitions, and she became very willing. When I asked her to trot, the most amazing thing happened. I asked for the trot, and her immediate question was 'How fast?' She checked herself to find out what I wanted - which was the first time that had ever happened. The surface was slightly deep, which made the trot a little more tricky for her, but it also meant that she was really stepping under and swinging through her back. She was soft, flexible, willing and light in my hand - amazing!
I decided to have a go at the canter transitions, as that was what I had worked on with John the day before. She cantered perfectly on the right rein - her transition was immediate and steady - a big improvement on before. To the left, she started to run again, then kept getting the wrong lead leg. I was in a really positive mood because she had been going so well, so I stopped her and had a think. I wondered what John would say if he could see my transitions and I remembered him saying that I was dropping her on the right hand side when I couldn't get the left canter. Armed with this thought, I had another attempt and made sure my body was thinking left, yet my right hand and leg were supporting her. Bingo! She cantered perfectly, immediately able to go onto a 20m circle. She seemed relaxed in the canter too, which was fantastic.
After such a good ride yesterday, I really didn't want to school her again today, so I persuaded a girl at the yard to hack out with me. Her horse lives in Echo's field with her, so they know each other and get on well. Her horse is a slightly nutty thoroughbred but I figured that Echo is now mature enough to deal with another horse getting silly without losing her brains. Aside from a little moment just after we set out, where we had our first trot and a pheasant shot out of the grass next to us, causing both horses to leap into the farmer's field on the left hand side of the track, it was a very good hack. We had a couple of very steady canters, as despite Meg's flightiness, she luckily has a very controllable speedometer!
We saw lots of new things, including a big herd (is that the correct collective noun?) of goats, which she stopped and stared at for a moment. I love Echo's reactions to things - she stops and has a look and you can almost see the cogs turning in her brain as she works out whether or not the scary object is going to eat her or not. The only thing that really upsets her is when she can hear or sense something behind her. She becomes rather prone to rushing forward then, which is not a particularly pleasant feeling. However - none of that today, and I was particularly pleased, because today was our first proper hack since I fell off. We've walked round the cross country course on our own, but today was really successful, and such a beautiful day - it was a pleasure to be out on my beautiful horse.