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The lastest update from Noni and the princess, a clinic with Jana Poppe.

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 Having lessons with someone new is always a bit daunting, and when you haven’t had a lesson, or even been anywhere for almost six months, it was always going to be a bit ugly.


I did some important preparation the week before- dragged out the float, checked the tyres, made sure the brake controller worked with the “new” car and asked Miss Flora if she felt like some floating practice on Friday afternoon. All good, she went on almost immediately, so I should have been VERY nervous.


Saturday, still didn’t trust that she would go on and behave, so attempted a load at 12 N for a 4pm lesson. Ok, it turned out to be overkill but she has been known to be a bit stubborn at times. (And Heath Ryan had the audacity to suggest that my pony and I were a perfect match). Little witch goes straight on…all good going to town until a huge low loader  carrying a bulldozer with flashing lights, when she started to weave a bit, but very good going through town.


Unloaded calmly and was happy to stand quietly at the float for 3 hours.


All too good to be true…then she sees the circus tent behind the trees at the showground. My calm pony departed about then.


So frustrating as she was lunging quietly and calmly, into the contact and stretching down at home and it reverted to the bloody arab showoff trot complete with snorts today.


The lesson turned into a lesson on how to deal with tension and hollowness, but Jana also saw straight away the issues I was having, that I knew had developed over the past few months. Lack of activity, reliance in the hands too much for collection, not accepting the snaffle so well.


To the solutions, Ride forward, as forward as I can, must listen to you…everytime she spooked, I had to drive her forward at the same time resisting the urge to hang on for dear life.  Jana was great dealing with this, and by the end of the lesson she was moving well, but still with more tension than I like. My poor body though…


Jana did do some great work helping me sort out something that has been bugging me with my flying changes- I am using my outside leg too much to signal the change, but losing the impulsion from the inside leg. Resulting in too much swing and not enough through.


So roll around Sunday. The little witch felt that another drive wasn’t on her agenda for the day. Didn’t take too long to convince her to behave though. Back into the showground where she again was quite happy to stand about. I didn’t bother with the lunge today as I figured with the circus still there it was going to end the same way.


Today I threw out the challenge to Jana, and she rode the first half of the lesson for me. Well the princess wasn’t so keen on the new rules. Four steps really forward, then collect for the same, forward, straight off the leg as soon as asked to get her really coming under. Quite tense under the new regime but in the end accepting and trying really hard.  I’m still in two minds how I feel  about the different tactics, I’m a little more relaxed in my approach, but no doubting its effectiveness in improving her responsiveness- and it did need to be done.


So I climb back on, to the biggest trot I have ridden in a long time. The challenge today is to see whether I’m brave enough to do it myself.


In summary, yes the lessons were a bit ugly, and I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself, but needed to be done.  It really did show how much regular instruction is worth and I’ve got heaps of things to work on. The ultimate compliment though, when your instructor asks if there is any chance your horse is for sale, and if not, that she would love to work with you on a regular and ongoing basis.


So will I do another clinic with her ? Yes. And from the work I saw and improvements I saw in the other horses at the clinic I would recommend her teaching for anyone who wants a bit of a  hand.


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