What they loved best, of course, was their pre-ride massage from Catriona Goulding. Catriona is a key member of our little study of what happens to a horse over a long distance. I am pleased to report that she was delighted with the condition of the boys - they have built up a lot of muscle bulk during our training, but very little sign of tightness - in fact, she was surprised at how supple they are. Although he may look as if he's about to bite her bum - in fact he's in ecstasy!
One of the things we discussed was how the ponies' performance has improved in the school - exercises which they may have found hard three months ago have become much easier for them. Surprising when you consider how little school work we have actually done over that period - but what we HAVE done by all our hill work is, of course, built up their strength, balance and agility. It gave me some pause for thought, actually, regarding schooling difficulties - how many problems & resistances do we see which are a direct result of the horse simply not being physically capable of what they're being asked to do?
One of the greatest improvements has been in Yeoman's canter - he has gone from a rushy, slightly tense and unbalanced canter - fairly typical of a young horse - to producing a rhythmical, balanced and supremely comfortable one - a direct result I'm sure of his increased strength behind.
More information about Catriona can be found on her website www.catrionagoulding.com