As I write this blog, both Diva and I are on a mission to lose some weight and get fitter for the coming show season.
I have started to lunge Diva daily, something she really enjoys and if I don’t put a lunge rein on her, she will trot and canter around quite happily with little or no encouragement from me. Once the weather is a little less cold and icy, I aim to start to lead her out around the lanes too. We have some quite steep hills close to the yard and power walking up them will help both of us to get fitter. I foresee a few pauses on the way up initially for me, not Diva!
I always wear a hi-vis waistcoat when I lead Diva around the lanes, but I think I will try to find a nice fluorescent exercise sheet for her to wear, as being small and black she can “disappear” into the hedgerows from a driver’s perspective.
I also intend to teach Diva to long-rein so that she is being driven along in front of me instead of with me to the side. Depending on how she takes to this, I may keep it for when she is in the school or around the field rather than when we could meet speeding traffic. Sometimes the quieter lanes can pose the most risk to horses and ponies as occasionally, a car is driven as if nothing could be in its path!
The Highway Code recently included rules for passing horses at no more than 10 miles per hour and at a width of 2 meters. However, on narrow country lanes the width isn’t always possible, so riders and leaders should be extra vigilant.
Fortunately, in my area most people are very considerate and often the sight of a little black Shetland pony being led along the road makes them smile.