The Breaker 3
The next day began much the same, except there was a bigger audience – N’s friend and her daughter had come along to watch as well.
No pressure, then Alexandrine!
Tilou was tacked up in the round pen once again. He resisted the bridle a little, but stopped the awkward mouthing of the bit much quicker than he had the previous day.
They started with a little bit of revision work on the circle.
This time, he started off with his extra-long legs attached, so Tilou had them dangling around under his belly from the beginning. He was still quite tense and anxious about his jockey, and had a couple of bunny-hopping sessions. Definitely not ready to be ridden yet, I thought.
Then Alexandrine went back to the mouthing work she had started the day before, walking alongside Tilou and teaching him cues. Not just rein cues, but also tapping his shoulder with a stick to ask him to move forward or to go to trot from walk.
Again it struck me how good her timing is – tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on the shoulder, with the speed of taps increasing as long as the horse doesn’t respond, but the INSTANT he responds, she stops. She also has immense patience. Yes, she’ll tap harder, yes she uses the orange stick forcefully at times, but never in anger. I noticed that she started jumping up and down as she walked and ran alongside him this time. Then I realised that, every time she jumped, she was leaning on whichever arm was across the saddle, holding the rein on the far side. This was more preparation for being ridden.
The mouthing work went on for a while. My mind was wandering and I was beginning to think about what I’d have for lunch when I got home – surely we were drawing to the end of the session. As my attention drifted, I was slow to realise what was happening in front of my eyes. And before I had time to press ‘record,’ Alexandrine had her left foot in the stirrup and was leaning over the saddle. I was able to grab a still, though.
No preparatory work standing on a block and leaning over him – just foot in the stirrup, step up, stay for a moment and then return to the ground. She did it again, staying over his back a little longer this time – and then she tapped him with the whip and asked him to walk on.
And he was as good as gold. So she mounted, all the way up, a leg on each side, weight balanced lightly forward.
He was quite happy in walk, so she did a tiny bit of trotting, too.
And that was it. End of session. It’s eight days into the breaking process and Tilou is now backed.
Roger did his job well.
Unfortunately I will miss the next five days of Tilou’s education. I expect to see a big change when I get back to GAEC de Pimayon next week!