Member Spotlight – Dione

Kandoo Club Online Training Member, Dione, tells us about her journey with the lovely Bayley.

As I think back to the last 12 months I am amazed at how far we have come! In December 2014, I bought my first riding horse in literally 15 years. While I've always had horses, I was breeding and not riding. I decided to see if I could get back in the saddle again. I'd been having a weekly 30 minute lesson at a riding school for about 4 months but I knew I needed a horse I could ride at home so I could improve faster. I bought an ex-polo Australian Stock Horse called Bayley. My first few rides in December, I was literally shaking in my boots but Bayley coped with my nervousness and gave me confidence to keep going and walk around with a few trots here and there. I went to Kate Fenner to get some lessons and we started with the basics - give to the bit and long-lining. Bayley quickly learned the voice cues to change his gait but Kate and I realised how nervous he was. Now I had to be the strong and confident one for us. Bayley seemed to have a big problem with his canter, it was like he threw himself into it and then panicked. Working on canter with long-lines and not riding it proved to be invaluable. It allowed me to be cool and calm and more importantly to give Bayley the time he needed to not panic and throw himself into canter and to find his balance without me interfering with him. As a child (and adult too) I had always wanted to compete in dressage with a bit of hacking thrown in so in January 2015 (just 6 weeks after I bought Bayley) I entered the Bungendore Show.

I had no idea what I got myself into! When I arrived and saw how big it was and how professional everyone looked, I said to my husband "I'm not sure I can do this". I felt so intimidated and like the complete amateur I was. However, I decided it didn't matter if I didn't ride, I could just walk Bayley around and long-line him. So I did. As we were long-lining, I realised that actually he was getting calmer but most importantly I was too. There was a flattened Coke can on the ground and as I long-lined I kept trying to avoid it and kept running into it. It was when Bayley actually stepped on it without reacting at all as he was trotting that I realised "hey, maybe I can do this" so I got on and rode around. I entered my first few classes and Bayley hated the other horses coming up behind him (polo hangover) and I knew that if I cantered, he would panic so I just kept trotting even when the judge kept looking at me yelling "CANTER!!!" I just smiled and nodded and kept trotting! I was so proud of us, we rode in a show!!!! We even managed to grab a third in the novice class! That was it, I was hooked!!!!!! So I decided that I'd work on what we could do - which was walk and trot. I had a couple of lessons with Kate and we worked on releasing the rein pressure as soon as Bayley dropped his head into frame and was soft. The way Kate explained it made it really easy for me to understand and practice at home. So I did - practiced and practiced riding walk-trot transitions. Soon Bayley had it down pat, so the next thing was Goulburn dressage in Feb 2015 - my first dressage comp (Prep). I was so happy when we got 57.89% and third place. I continued to work on my walk-trot transitions and entered in the Bungendore Classic prep in March 2015. I was astounded when we got 69.47% and first place! At home, I had continued to work on canter on the long-lines but not riding it as Bayley still had a massive leap into his transition and would throw his head up. I felt that when riding, I would ask him to canter and then pull him up as he leapt into it and it confused him. However, now my successes had gone to my head and I was so keen to ride the canter. It soon became apparent though that as keen as I was, Bayley just wasn't ready. I needed to support his time frame not mine. It was the easiest and also the hardest thing to do! The long-lines were really helping him and in order get it as right as possible I would watch the long-lining DVD and clinics on the Kandoo Club Online Training showing give to the bit and long-lining problem solving.

Even though I'd seen them before, there was always something different I got out of it. I attended a weekend canter clinic with Kate and it was the first time I had really ridden the canter. In all honesty, I can't say it was completely controlled but it was calm and that's the main thing! There were others in the clinic that were at the same place as me and having the support of everyone was amazing and so helpful. I still watch the video of that day and remember how I felt to actually ride. The clinic enabled me to take home what I had learned and practice, practice, practice. Then a few check in lessons with Kate helped me stay on course and continue to improve. So that was the start of my journey. Thought the year, I've practiced at home and taken Bayley out to as many events and training days as I could. We have usually placed in everything we have done. We have done some awesome trial rides and even participated at sporting events (IN THE CANTER!!!!!!!!). Both Bayley and I have grown and blossomed so much. We now work together so well and I feel confident that he will respond correctly when I ask him and seeing his confidence grow has been so rewarding! It's been the most amazing year and I have loved every minute of it. The knowledge and practical tuition that Kate gave me enabled me to use it at home and to help improve Bayleys confidence. Best 12 months ever!!!!!!!!

Thank you Dione - I do love the way she 'forgot' to mention that she just won Champion Rider at the latest show she took Bayley to! Congratulations, how fabulously you have both done! I'm so looking forward to being part of your next journey with the young ones.....

We'll have to do another post to let everyone know how they go!