Latest Blog from Para Dressage Rider Natalie Povey

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This month has been a learning curve for both of us. Up to now I have ridden Elton with two short whips which I have carried on his shoulders, but as I am asking more of Elton I decided to try two longer schooling whips. I always carry two whips so that I am able to give even aids as they are used as a back up my aids when needed to follow up my voice and seat aids. When we first bought Elton he objected to longer schooling whips by running off hence why I have carried shorter whips up till now.

Elton was much more mature about me carrying the longer whips, firstly carrying one and then carrying both of them, he took to them like a pro although we did have a little protest with a few hairy moments when he bucked being cheeky when I tickled him with the whip. He seems to be getting better with them, but things like these take time as he needs to learn to understand that they are my forward aid and are only there to back up my voice and seat when needed.

Our main focus this month has been our straightness and suppleness, which has improved greatly from my blog last month and he is improving even more daily. We had been finding both quite challenging due to me not being able to use my legs, so I have been practicing using my weight to achieve the results as well as riding him with two whips which sort of back up my voice commands when needed.

Our straightness had been mainly an issue when we are working a couple of metres off the outside track as Elton likes to fall back to the fence and as I am unable to support him with my legs I have had to try to teach him to go off my rein aids as well as my weight which is very difficult due to my disability making me uneven – so its a challenge for both of us. So I have been using serpentines across the school to practice our straightness so at first we didn’t have to tackle a whole 60m of the school wobbling around and I have gradually increased this so we can almost walk and trot the full 60m of the school with the exception of an odd wobbly moments. Elton is still only young so it is all a learning curve for him but we have taken a huge step forward in the last two months.

Helen, the lovely owner of the livery yard where I am based has been helping me with Elton’s schooling and has been working on this as well and as it is improving for Helen it is getting easier for Elton and I as he has more of an understanding of what I am asking.

We have also been working on Elton’s suppleness as he carries himself in a lovely outline but could be a little heavy and set in the hand so we gradually introduced gentle flexion which Elton now finds quite easy and now that he understands what he needs to do it has resulted in a much softer and relaxed outline.

Now the nights are getting lighter I have started hacking him along the off road track at our livery yard which gives him a break from working in the school without having to hack on the busy roads, which he enjoys.