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Dancing with the BYRDS

It was a dismal afternoon when we set out for the BYRDS Equitation day. I was feeling excited, and nervous when I mounted because we were to be riding in front of two BYRDS coaches. Today wasn't about how well your horse is going, these coaches were focusing on riders entirely, so no pressure! Working in, Katrina was a little curious at everything to begin with, but once I got her focused on work she settled. First, the coaches called us over for a chat, and they were shocked when I said Katrina had only been backed a year ago and that I was 13. After that, they asked all five of us to think of one positive thing about our riding and one negative. I explained to them that the quality of our transitions were poor, but her trot was good.

Next we were told to go off and work while they watched, the coaches separated and one of them, Nicky called me over and asked me which transition was the problem. I explained that in the trot/canter Katrina could be hollow. She asked me to show her the transitions, typically the first transition was good! Katrina soon showed our issue though by going disunited in the next two. Nicky then asked me to do sitting trot for the transition explaining it would make it easier for Katrina’s hind leg to step under her into the canter. After I had practiced a few times I found that it helped Katrina keep her balance much better, she told me to go off and give her a break before practicing on the other rein by myself.

Gradually the rain was getting heavier, and began pounding down so hard that when the other coach, Charlotte called me over I could barely see her. In our chat, I explained that Katrina sometimes jogs when gathering up the reins after a free walk. Then, when I tried to demonstrate, Katrina decided to walk beautifully. Why do they do that? Charlotte did notice that on the circle Katrina was falling out through her shoulder. She had us doing quarter pirouettes, putting my outside leg back a fraction to keep her hind in place, and using my outside rein to direct her shoulders. Soon we were going in a square but Kat was straight as an arrow. After trying it on both reins in trot and walk, I was once again sent away with a smile on my face.

After making Katrina comfortable, I walked back for my sheet. It wasn't long before the other girls joined me and we chatted complaining about the weather. My breeches were sopping, but my top half was warm and dry thanks to my Tottie jacket which withstood the typical English weather! A fantastic day where I learnt loads to improve my riding, I actually had fun and I was incredibly proud of Katrina, because she had been an absolute superstar.

Thank you to my super supporters Stonehouse Solutione, Style Reins Magazine, Tottie Clothing, Egloves and the Emporium at Wentworth. You make it all possible!

Thanks for reading!!!

Alanna xoxox

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