I thought this would be fun to show you. A couple of days back, my husband offered to come outside and take some photos of me riding Merc. We went through our normal training session and then I gave him the usual post session scratches before thanking him and putting him back in the paddock.
A couple of hours later, I sat down at my computer and looked at the photos and was genuinely really surprised. I have felt the changes in Merc over the months we have been working together but in the new photos, he looked really different.
Later in the day, I searched through my photos to find the original ones I had of him (I always lament not taking earlier videos for comparison!) and found one from the day I tried him out. This photo here is a photo of Merc when I first went to see him (January 22, 2022)- our first ride together.
This photo was taken two days ago (June 14, 2022). To my mind, this is a big change in the space of 4-5 months.
I delight in this not only because I’m so proud of my horse (a horse with a willing heart and mind is worth their weight in gold and makes up for any capabilities they may initially lack gymnastically) but because this evolution has been such a team effort.
Firstly, I am grateful for the practices I learn and teach. It has given me an ease in my body and an outlook that allows for me to find balance even when the work feels messy and hard.
I knew from the start that I would need some assistance with Merc to correct his imbalances. He was heavy on the forehand, particularly on the left fore, that left him falling in through the shoulder. We had to renegotiate what the leg aids meant between each other to really establish forward, and to develop a conversation that worked for us.
Since March, I have been mentored by Kate Sandel and together we formed a training program. I followed the principles of Legerete, the French classical school of riding, that allowed me to work with Merc’s balance so he could more easily meet life as a riding horse in a way that facilitated more capability and ease of movement rather than the opposite.
Without learning to lighten his shoulders, lift the base of his neck and adjust his balance under saddle, I think a horse like Merc could easily have ended up unsound as a riding horse, simply because his natural body habits over time would have created soreness. I’m sure he is not alone in this.
We are also fortunate to have Dale Logan on team from DL Equine to form a diet for Merc that ensures he’s getting what he needs- no more and no less. We revise the diet with every change of season and I’m just about to send off his measurements, pasture photos and updates so we can revise things from where they were previously.
Horsing is such a team effort, and I’m grateful to have a collection of fabulous people in mine. And the other thing is, I don’t live near any of the people I’ve mentioned- across the world from Kate and on another island from Dale. We all work remotely.
I love what the internet has provided us with. I love the work that I do. And I love adventuring with my beautiful Merc.
You can visit Kate’s website here.
You can visit Dale’s website here