It's been a really good couple of days. I rode Echo yesterday evening and the day before and it's been brilliant to actually ride again.
On Saturday I rode out with Tammy walking with me. Echo felt really good- she's much better in her contact now and felt really nice and straight. I was a bit concerned that her walk felt a bit rushed and a bit '2 time', but she relaxed after a bit and it evened out. She's definitely very forward-going which is great. Having been so spooky the day before when I walked out with Tammy, I was slightly nervous about what she might be like with me on top, but she was actually really good- it was less windy and she only had a little spook at some ducks flying out of the bushes, which I can forgive her for! We had a lovely trot and she felt fit and balanced and like a horse in work again!
When we got back to the yard I rode her in the school for 7 or 8 minutes. She's just doing big circles and changes of rein in walk at the moment in the school. She felt good, but I didn't! It's funny: Echo has always, and I mean ALWAYS thrown saddles to the right. This saddle that we're riding her in now is slipping a little to the left! The left!! This is very odd and has completely thrown me. I'm so wonky from Echo being wonky for so long, that I now expect a saddle to go to the right. What is interesting is that Tammy said I was pretty straight while out hacking but as soon as we went into the school, I sat to the right. I tried to correct myself, but I felt awkward and stiff and Echo didn't feel like she was enjoying me riding her at all.
After riding her, I did all of her stretches and put her Equilibrium pad on. She really loves all the fuss. You'll be pleased to know that she's still the same old Echo though, even with this 'boot camp' training- she broke out of her turnout pen again on Saturday. She didn't do anything silly, just wandered over to Tammy's mum once she'd got out! She's now going out in a slightly bigger pen with a little more grass and yesterday stayed put, which is a good sign. I have warned Tammy that as she gets closer to the summer and is in season more, she will go looking for boys when she gets bored. She's going to consider turning her out with a companion, but Tammy is so careful that she worries she'll get kicked. She's amazingly careful, actually. I suggested she doesn't really need bandaging at night anymore, but she wants to keep them on as she's worried that with her lateral extension shoes she might knock herself. She also gets turned out in all four boots and overreach boots, which she never has before. When ridden, she wears knee boots, because she once tripped over her own feet. Echo gets the best care there that I think she's every had in her life!
So yesterday I arrived at the yard and Tammy said that we were going to ride out with another girl and her horse. Tammy still walked as this girl is very nervous (so would I be if I'd gone through what she has with this horse!) so Tammy has her on a lead rein. It was really good for Echo to be out with another horse though. He was a little spooky and once or twice that upset Echo, as he made he jump, but generally, she was more relaxed with him there. It made her walk a little more slowly too, which improved the rhythm of her walk. We went for a couple of long trots and it was good that Echo didn't mind that Marty got left miles behind as the girl only wanted to do a few steps of trot. She waited patiently for the others to catch up and off we went.
What is really encouraging is how good Echo is with traffic. All the hacking is on roads at the moment and although they're quiet, you do get cars passing. They're all single track roads too, so the cars have to sit behind you until there's space to pass. I'm so impressed that Echo doesn't mind this. When we got back to the yard, I rode her in the school for a few minutes again and it was much better than the day before. I think Echo had got a bit more used to me riding her again and I ha got a bit more relaxed. She felt softer and I didn't feel like I was slipping to one side. We are still getting a saddler out this week, as Tammy is concerned about the saddle we're using. She has a prolite under it, which seems to be doing a good job, but it doesn't sit completely straight and Tammy doesn't want to do any more work in the school- particularly any trot work- until she's confident that it's fitting correctly. We're going to use the saddler that she uses, as they know each other well and Tammy says that she can be completely honest with her and make we keep going until she and the horse are happy. As I said before, I lost a bit of faith in my saddler over the last couple of times she's been out.
So it was a really lovely couple of days of riding. I'm leaving Tammy to it for a few days and I will ride her again on Wednesday. I have another couple of weeks off work, so it will be nice to ride her a few times. I've decided to wait before getting the vet to come and check her again- my insurance year has run out and so I need to be a little more careful about the money. As she's doing so well, I think I'll keep doing what we're doing until Tammy is ready to start some canter work with her, then get Ben to come and see her. Hopefully he'll see a big improvement! :)