In Reflection 

I had a fantastic ride this morning on Llani. As you can see, it was dark, but I dragged him in by the light of my head torch and tacked him up with the help of the yard kitten.

Out in the school he settled immediately, walking purposefully and oblivious to his surroundings he softened immediately to the contact and in the trot he engaged his hindquarters from the beginning, lifting his wither and maintaining an even contact constantly. Because he was forwards and engaged he didn’t falter on the changes of rein or circles, and he flew into a balanced extended trot when I asked. Leg yield was more extravagant than previously and he maintained his balance.

Everything I asked is within his capabilities, but if often takes one or two tries before we get our best work. For example, he often hollows and runs out of balance when I first ask him to open his trot up.

The best part, and I’m not sure if it was because I was working in sitting trot (even the extension!) to try to save my sore knee, but when I asked for canter Llani did his best transitions ever! I’ve been really focusing on them, but the first one can always be a bit of a pogo-stick hop into a stuffy canter, but this morning the hind legs pushed him straight in his body, and with open strides, into a lovely, easy canter. Of course it was easy, he wasn’t curling up around my inside leg so he could propel himself along more easily.

I was thrilled with his canter this morning; numerous beautiful  transitions and very balanced. 

We ended with a free walk on a long rein, and I reflected on how far he’s come. 

For starters, he never used to be able to walk on a long rein; he’d peter to a halt, confused at the lack of rein contact.

A couple of weeks ago I took him for a solo hack and we crossed the motorway bridges easily, just a pause to look round. His outlook on “monsters” has changed. He used to stop and try to run away, but now he stops, assesses and then hurries past, holding his breath.

He used to be terrified of the sound of clippers, but last month I clipped him without sedation. Just with the help of some apples.

He let me drape a plastic bag over his back this week without batting an eyelid. He also walks over tarpaulin confidently too – something he never would’ve done last year.

When jumping, he pops fillers straight away, without the panic that he used to have, and again his mentality has changed from “oh my god, run away” to “oh my god, scary but … Let’s do it!”

Llani’s demeanour has changed too, and he’s much more laid back on the yard. My friend had a go at lunging him last week. She’s not lunged before, but soon got the hang of it and he behaved very well. 

Then his latest achievement was last weekend, when one of my friends took him for a hack and ended up leading a beginner on a pony from him.

Even though it can be hard work, and demanding, now that I’ve thought about Llani and his journey, I think he’s unrecognisable from the horse that I met last year.

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