Vaulting

Has anyone been watching the WEG? I saw a bit of the vaulting yesterday, which is surprisingly underrated. I was impressed with the gymnastic ability of the Eccles sisters, and they made my demonstration of full scissors this morning look like a feeble attempt. I can only just do full scissors, let alone do it vertically!

Anyway, I was thinking that vaulting is very much a team effort. You need an exceptional lunger, who can keep the perfect circle, and a horse capable of cantering slowly for minutes at a time in a perfect rhythm. I thought it was quite nice that Mr Eccles went onto the podium with his daughters, which showed great appreciation.

So with vaulting fresh in my mind today, I experimented in my nine o’clock lesson. The two girls rode well, and seemed really confident cantering around. After the canter they said to me “on our pony day in the holidays Karen told us to get you to show us how to do full scissors”.

Great. Cheers for that, Karen!

Back to my nine o’clock lesson! I had the girls walking around doing some balance exercises. They’re quite supple and I think I’ve exhausted the windmill and helicopter ones, so I got them to sit sideways whilst walking. They managed it easily except for one wondering how princesses rode side saddle because it wasn’t very comfortable! Then I got them to sit backwards. And then to the other side, before sitting back to the front. They found this a bit harder, and became quiet for about thirty seconds.

Next we halted and practised Around the World with their hands on their head, and half scissors. I was building up to full scissors, and borrowed the biggest pony to demonstrate. It takes a bit if effort, and I’ve never been very graceful at it, but I did it a couple of times before dismounting. Then my clients had a go. They giggled away at each other as they leant forwards and tried wriggling around. After I’d pushed them back onto the saddle and man-handled them so they performed full scissors without sliding off their ponies they had a go on their own. One of the girls, who’s a gymnast, soon got the hang of it, and I think with a bit of practice the other girl will be able to do it too.

With a couple of minutes left, the girls asked for another exercise. I scratched my head for a moment, before suggesting that they swapped ponies. Without touching the ground!

I remember doing it as a teenager, but on 16.2 horses, which is a bit further to fall! The girls lined up closely, and it talked them through swapping. One of them slid to the front of her saddle, whilst her friend sat sideways. With one foot reaching into the stirrup, she leant across and then swung her right leg over the cantle to be sat behind the other girl. This caused a lot of giggling, while they worked out what to do next. It didn’t take long for both ponies to have a rider and I could breathe a sigh of relief as the girls walked back to the yard, chattering happily about their lesson and telling everyone who would listen what they had done.

The best thing about today’s lesson, was swapping ponies, apparently. You can forget about canter and trot, exercises are top of the list!

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