So, you may have seen that in August I offered one lucky book buyer the chance to win a GOLDEN TICKET! A Wimpy Wonka if you will… this ticket entitled the recipient to a day with ME! I would come to their house and terrorize them for a whole day! And that’s exactly what I had planned!!
Daddy Carrot selected the winner from a spreadsheet of names collated from my August orders and the lucky winner was a lady called Suzanne Pockley. Now, I will add that at this point, I had absolutely no idea who this person was or if they were a serial killer, arsonist, wimpy-napper, etc. but having firmed a date with Suzanne over Facebook, she (and her trusty steed, George) didn’t seem the murderous type.
By the time the day arrived I was on to plan C of the activities I had in store for poor Suze. My first plan of a polo lesson fell through as the ponies had all gone on holiday to the Caribbean or similar, Plan B was a trip to the mechanical horse and riding assessment, but alas… this was also not meant to be and had some technical problem… So I opted for Plan C.
En route to East Yorkshire, after papping my knickers going over the MASSIVE Humber Bridge, I stopped off at the supermarket for chilled booze and croissants only to need a jump start to get me back on the road again!! GREAT! – I obviously took Daddy Carrots car because mine is definitely not fit for passengers that would prefer not to catch E-Coli. After being propositioned by my golden toothed, jump starting helper, I made it to Suze’s yard and to my relief, she was so lovely and welcoming.
We had a good chat and a couple of glasses of Bucks Fizz before tacking up George and getting started on some confidence building in the arena.
DISCLAIMER: I am going to add in at this point, that I am no Yogi Breisner or Emile Faurie, I have no real formal qualifications to teach other than some ancient BHS PTT and Pony Club tests, but, I am insured and I know damn well that I can instill confidence in people to do things that they didn’t think they were capable of. I know that people trust me and I also know that I swear at them until they do things that ordinarily might seem impossible. If you have ever had me for a lesson, you’ll know what I’m talking about!!!
Now, Suze is a BRILLIANT rider, she is quiet with her hands, correct and balanced in her seat, she doesn’t hinder or flap, she has feel and skill… AND NO BELIEF IN ANY OF THAT WHAT SO EVER!!!!! I wanted to hit her with a spade. George, is a 14.3hh coloured cob that Suze bought as a 2 year old and backed herself. I renamed him ‘Just Enough George’. He is lazy at best and getting him to go forward and enjoy being a speedy sports cob was the aim of the morning.
We worked on getting him going off the leg in all 3 paces, shortening the trot on the short sides and lengthening on the long ones so Suze could practice using the GO button that we newly installed in George! She did a brilliant job of this and he was moving very nicely indeed. We then looked at straightness and riding a straight centre line, actually FEELING what straight feels like and not just riding a line. So, we were forwards, straight and in balance… perfect green lights for jumping!
Suze definitely turned a little green when I put the jumps up. She doubts herself so unnecessarily and I wanted her to see and start believing what she and George are capable of – I could see it a mile off!! So I popped up a high sided cross pole to focus George’s attention and keep them straight, followed by 2 uprights on either side of a 20m circle. The idea being to do very little over the jump, get straight before the fence and keep George FORWARDS! She nailed it!!! I mean really nailed it!
Trust is vital when you are teaching someone that lacks confidence and I hope I’m right in saying that, at this point, Suze trusted me (or she was in fear of being sworn at some more!) when I popped the jumps up a bit. The high sided cross pole was back and this was teamed with a little oxer to get George being straight, careful and also having to focus him going forwards a bit more for the spread. She rode this so well, I knew there were limits to her confidence but there were less to her capability… it was all about getting her to realise this. Quite often, people are far more capable than their confidence allows them to believe – I know this better than anyone!
So, with George and Suze thoroughly pooped, Suze’s Mum hopped on (helped by a glass of prosecco and mild bullying) after 20 years of not riding, to cool George off. This was a really special moment for me. The bond between Suze and George is like no other I have seen, he dotes on her, following her every step as she walked with her Mum around the arena. I had to slope off and put the jumps away before I flung my arms around them all and sobbed with pride!!
After all that hard work, we popped George in the field and headed off for Afternoon Tea at a lovely hotel. We chatted for hours and ate our body weights in miniature cakes and finger sandwiches before heading to the SPA!! Almost losing track of time in the Jacuzzi, it was time for Suze to go for her massage and facial, before a final drink together in the hotel bar.
I dropped Suze home around 7ish and made my way home so full of pride for her and so happy with the new friend I had made.
I cannot thank her enough for having me and being so welcoming. I know she was jumping again this weekend too, which makes me SERIOUSLY HAPPY!!! I can’t wait to see her and George progress and get out to some shows next year. What a brilliant Golden Ticket day, something I will definitely love to do again.
Love as always
One thing I that I couldn’t leave out is this AMAZING curly George Moustache…