Portuguese lesson

Was extremely lucky a few weeks ago to hear that ex Portuguese School of Equestrian Art rider Rui Campeao, was coming to Bluegate to do a clinic. How could I turn down an opportunity like that, especially as I’m transportless and can hack to Bluegate for comps. Naturally I signed up straight away and the day arrived quickly.

I’d been watching the weather all week, and right on cue, ex-tropical storm Bertha turned up as I got Saf out of the field. We stood in the yard at 11.30am when I was meant to be leaving, watching the rain hammering down. I managed to woman-up and between three of us managed to get Saf tacked up (dopey moo won’t stand in a stable) in the pouring rain. The rain calmed down a bit so we didn’t get too much more soaked on the hack there and we were fortunate enough to use the indoor school which was free.

Rui spent some time listening to my woes and how many things I feel I need to work on. He then asked to see us working a bit in the school, which we did. Saf was super distracted, correct bend had gone out of the window so I wasn’t sure what we looked like! Rui started by correcting our inside bend, this was good as it cemented what we’d already been working on, but I still wasn’t keeping Saf’s attention. At the same he got me half halting and generally slowing Saf down as she was hurrying her walk and trot.

Another issue you’ve probably all noticed is that Saf is a serial nose-poker. This is purely a training issue as she has never been asked by me to work any differently so just wanders around looking where she likes and generally not listening. I have also always had it drilled into me that sawing at the mouth etc. is a huge faux pas so was reluctant to even try a little flexion. We have been working on this in-hand at home with our usual trainer, but very much in the early stages. Years of hacking on the buckle has also ensured that my reins are always far too long.

So, Rui had me having a very slight feel on Saf’s mouth, not visible to the the outside world, has a few moments of using a little more as Saf didn’t really ‘get’ what I wanted. I had to emphasise the ‘give’ as soon as she yielded to this new contact. It was interesting that as soon as she started to round herself, she’d go along for a couple of strides, then realise that she was working harder than she usually would, and have a tantrum and toss her head about. Thus loosening the reins and getting her own way. After a few of these tantrums, Rui asked if I minded if he could hop on Saf for a few minutes. I have a great photo of Saf’s face as he got on, and said to her, ‘right princess, you’re in trouble now!’ She just looked at me as if to say, ‘who the heck is this!’

Rui is very fair, but firm with her, something I am not! He basically emphasised what I need to do with her, but got far better results of course. I got back on and she was far more attentive and responsive, Rui concluded that she is extremely stubborn, so at least it’s not just me! I’m going to be far more ‘on her case’ now, and really make sure that we always have the correct bend, and if we can achieve more engagement and attentiveness I will be over the moon. We have until the 21st September, when I’ve booked in again, and hopefully Rui will see a difference in attitude. Can’t wait!

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