Boot for me = Boot Camp for Amber

Boot for me = Boot Camp for Amber

Well every day is a learning day. Recently I have learnt that:

  • If you ride Amber in a saddle with a broken tree she will chuck you off. Rapidly.
  • Improve-Your-Seat rider training exercises are no match for a cross chestnut mare.
  • You can walk on a broken ankle. Ish.
  • I am a numpty *

*Well I knew that one already but the particular brand of numptiness-of-the-month was the failure to notice that my saddle was broken. Properly, painfully, jab her in the back when she canters or jumps, broken. Poor Amber. The saddle looks and feels fine the right way up but that is absolutely no excuse and I feel dreadful about it. The pony club drill of checking tack EVERY TIME YOU RIDE has a point after all.

But Amber is now enjoying a temporary spell in a borrowed (gorgeous, beautiful) Equipe I am in a fetching and restrictive boot for a few weeks. Amber has gone on schooling livery with a pro who is giving her the education she isn’t getting from me. I went to see her today and it was inspiring and deflating all at the same time. She moves very well but the feedback was just exactly the same as I have heard over and over again:

She is a talented mare…. BUT

She won’t wait for jumps

She resists the contact

She runs on the forehand

She does not work leg into hand

She is a stroppy madam when put in her box!

But all that can – apparently – be resolved within the 6 weeks the pro will have her. Which I’m sure it can. But then she has to come back to me…. And it is clear that I just don’t have the skill to ride her correctly. God knows I’ve tried to address all those issues: Lessons, clinics, camps and having others ride her. I know what she needs but I am just not good enough to teach her. Or good enough YET anyway.

It was incredible how sweaty she was after 45 minutes today. All her veins were popped out. She was KNACKERED. Not because she us unfit – she is very fit – but because she was being made to use herself properly and she isn’t used to it. I can ride her for hours and she does not break a sweat at all.

Still I need to focus on the positives: She has been checked by a physio and she does not have a bad back. It is easier to resolve a broken saddle than a broken horse. Her uncharacteristically explosive behaviour has an explanation. She is at a fab yard with a fab pro and will – I am assured – be entirely easier when she comes back to me. The pro can teach me too.

And to be fair, if I am going to break bones, January is not a bad time to choose: I get to binge-watch Netflix while someone else rides in the wind and the rain.

Things can only get better……