Today, being Sunday, marks not only two weeks since I have arrived in Germany, but also the one day a week I get a rest from training. Usually, it’s a good opportunity to think about what you achieved in the week previous. But what do you do when none of it went to plan?
If there is one thing that I have noticed, it is that just in one week of training, things can really change. It is not so much the big picture we are focusing on at the moment, but the little things that will eventually lead to the big picture. This past week has been one of those weeks where nothing went to plan and I feel it is a good example as to how the majority of us feel when training with our horse, professional or not.
Monday: Nobody ever really likes Mondays. And it appears Lotus didn’t either. Monday was spent in the big indoor jumping hall, and the sun was shining brightly through all the windows to the point where we felt like we needed sunglasses. I couldn’t get the right canter happening, and failed dismally when I tried the counter-canter to the right. The lesson ended with Lotus becoming terrified of her shadow having not seen it for several months, and she bolted around the arena for a few minutes before coming to the conclusion that if your shadow didn’t kill you, the showjumps she sees everyday most certainly will. Mares.
Tuesday: Tuesday didn’t see much of an improvement on the canter issue. The contact was better, and the trot work was good though. At least we didn’t have any crazy bolting moments but I was quietly satisfied that she still did flying changes in the counter-canter when someone else was riding her. The canter to the right was a disaster, and Briana decided Lotus needed a bit more work on the lunge to help her balance. The fact that I was super tense and stressed about my upcoming exams didn’t help the situation.
Wednesday: Wednesday saw me drive to Essen for my Uni exam. Lotus was ridden by Briana and I assumed everything went well. My exam wasn’t so good, and I am hoping I did well!
8:00am in Essen and still dark as I wait for my exam.
Thursday: This day started off much better than the previous two. Lotus had spent some time on the lunge before I rode her and the balance to the right felt a lot better. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to help our issue with the right canter much. The contact was still stiff to the right and although we managed to avoid the flying changes, it didn’t feel so good. Lotus was a bit of a handful, jogging her way back to the stables like she was ready to enter the Melbourne Cup. I was nearly in tears on the way home, the ever stressful Administrative Law exam still looming.
Friday: Friday morning was an early 5am start as we headed back to Essen for my second exam. I was a nervous little bundle as I tackled the dreaded admin law exam that took up 12 pages per question. I was not feeling very enthusiastic about training that day. It seemed however that all of a sudden, Friday brought forth a “light bulb” moment. A small change to the position of my right leg and all of our right canter and counter-canter problems had vanished. It was the best training we had done in the 5 months of lessons. Lots of treats for Lotus today.
Our incredible 'Lightbulb' lesson. This is our bad side - to the right. The suppleness shown in the picture took a week to get.
Saturday: After our successful Friday, I was extremely excited to get the training underway. Lotus, however, had other ideas. She worked incredibly well up until the last few minutes of our training. For some reason, the rain on the roof of the indoor suddenly morphed into something terrifying and Lotus took off at a great rate, bucking and behaving like a general fruitcake. Two minutes and it was all over, back to work as normal. Apparently the bucking helped, because she was suddenly a lot looser in the back and trotting around like Totalis!
I like to reflect back on the week we have had every Sunday. This last week was a true example of what it’s like to work with an animal – no less a mare – and how other things in your life can affect your riding. We were able to tick one more thing off our progress list, and everyday the training gets better. We have gone back to the all important basics, working in a snaffle bridle, and lots of transitions for both mine and Lotus’ balance. I am hopeful that this week of training will be a lot better and more consistent.
In other news, I have managed after two weeks of hounding, to get internet! It of course arrived the night I had finished all my exams, but I was excited to get it. Dad has also been working away to get the entire contents of my flat-pack apartment together. It’s looking great, with Mum going mad on buying things to make it more comfortable. The woman is like a whirl-wind in the Poco store.
I've heard about the amazing rain that home has gotten in the last week. My brother, James, his girlfriend Megan and my boyfriend, Matt have been doing an amazing job of babysitting the ponies at home. They have rugged and unrugged the horses numerous times over the last few days. I got this amazing picture of a storm appraoching from the North East at home.
You don't get storms or a view like this anywhere else in the world.
Now that exams are over, and I have settled a bit more into the cold, the hunt is on for a little car. My brilliant idea of riding a pushbike to the stables is not looking so brilliant after I saw the amount of snow and ice between my front door and the 6km to the stables. Therefore, I am on the hunt for a wicked German car. It also needs to be 150% reliable as once Dad goes home, I am so stuck if it breaks. I have no mechanical sense whatsoever and the standard 1-800-dad-come-save-me number doesn’t work when you are 19,000km from home.
If we can keep our right canter steady for the next few training sessions, Lotus and I will be off to compete at the Ankum show in February.