The sounds of combines echoed off the ridgeway in the dust filled Thames Valley as I tacked Oscar up on Monday afternoon. It temperature had cooled considerably since the previous week but it was still warm enough to ride in a T-shirt. I hadn’t taken Oscar in the school for over a week, making the most of the sunshine and not really enjoying schooling that much recently as things we seemed to have been working on for months were far from improving. But I decided that today was a day that we had to go into the school.
I got on Oscar without putting him between the fence and the block for the first time in absolutely ages (although this didn’t last long as the next time I tried it he swung his quarters away and ended up getting put between the fence again). I warmed up slowly, spending longer in walk than normal and asking him to bring his head down, onto an outline and flexing both ways as I spiralled and leg-yielded in and out of a 20m circle. When I asked for an upwards transition to trot, his head stayed put. Well that’s one thing we had achieved already! I did some more flexing in trot and played with collecting and extending slightly, and pushing him forwards into the contact.
When we came to canter I wanted him to get his hocks right underneath him and bring his head in, and collect. To do this I moved the reins to ask him to bring his head down, which he did beautifully, and cantered some smaller circles. This really got his hocks underneath him and then he collected beautifully as we went large around the school. He really maintained this canter for a while as well, which is fantastic as he can find this tricky (or likes to pretend he does). I didn’t ask him to do this too much, so after a bit of great quality canter on both reins I took him out for a hack as a reward.
We trotted up the track and then went right around the field we usually canter in. We I first asked Oscar to canter he backed off my leg a bit and didn’t seem all that happy cantering but we got there in the end. I think he’s so used to me asking him which leg to lead off that when I don’t ask him he isn’t sure what I’m asking at all! When we turned the corner of the field I asked him to canter again there and he went into a beautiful collected and bouncy canter. But we weren’t working now, we were here to have some fun so at the long side of the field I pushed him forwards, let him stretch his neck a bit more, went into the light seat and off we went, faster and faster as we ducked under trees. I honestly think if Oscar could have screamed ‘YIPPEEEE’ he would have been at that moment!
He came back to me perfectly at the end of the field, and as we turned back for the track that leads straight back to the yard he settled down into a chilled out walk on the buckle.
What a legend.