Yesterday I had the BEST day ever at Perry Wood’s clinic. I was the first time that I have taken Mya anywhere so Katie (Mya’s owner) and I thought we would try a clinic first rather than a competition. It was the first journey in a trailer for Mya in 6 years and the first time she has stayed away overnight anyway with Jazz too so we were full of hope but also had some reservations about whether this is a good idea! As Mya can be difficult to handle at home sometimes.
We boxed Mya over to Borde Basse on Wednesday which is a 1 hour 15 min drive away north of Toulouse the day before the clinic as we had arranged for her to stay overnight in a paddock there, so she could settle ready for the lessons on Thursday. I followed in my car and I could see that she travelled really nicely. She settled in very well, better than we hoped actually as she is a stressy, tense mare at times. Then we went off to find our air bnb and have some lunch. We returned 2.5 hours later to a visibly sweaty Mya who looked wired! Hmm perhaps she hasn’t settled as well as we hoped? We brought her in and she was ok. We handle her in a Monty Roberts Dually halter when we think we may need a little more control so we took her for a little walk around, then to the arena and she actually seemed fine. Oh how we wish you could talk Mya! We actually think she was getting pestered by flies which was what caused her to be wound up ( this is something she does get very agitated by at home). So we covered her in fly repellent and felt bad that the only item of her wardrobe we didn’t bring was her fly rug. We watched her in her paddock for half an hour and she seemed to be more relaxed so we left her for the night. I felt very calm and excited about the next day of lessons and actually felt relieved that I wasn’t bricking it. A few months ago Mya would have frightened me when she was wired like that but much to my relief today I wasn’t frightened and was actually looked forward to getting on her tomorrow.
We had a nice early night and got to yard just as the sun was rising at 8am to give Mya her breakfast. The clinic was held at a lady named Rebecca’s yard. It was beautiful! And suited us brilliantly as it wasn’t a busy equestrian centre it was just the participants of the clinic there all of whom were very friendly. We started the day by watching Rebecca’s first lesson with Perry and Katie & I immediately loved Perry’s teaching methods and what he stood for. Perry’ is a horse whisperer and teaches with natural horsemanship. Focusing on how you can build a better relationship with your horse and understand them better. He challenges some of the traditional methods of riding and gives you his own very easy yet functional ways to ride instead. He focusses on riding in this moment, not a moment that happened 5 years ago or yesterday, how your horse is going now. I was absolutely full of enthusiasm ready for my lessons after watching that first session with him.
After that all of the participants Rebecca, Kathryn, Fanny, me and Katie (who spectated on Thursday and will ride Mya Friday) sat with Perry with a coffee and a cake and talked about what each of us wanted to achieve today. What I really like is that Perry asked what I wanted to achieve today then asked what Mya wanted to achieve. He is so horse focused. I said that I wanted to build a a better relationship with Mya to become someone that she can trust and understand. I explained that it has taken us a while to click and trust each other after we both had quite long breaks from riding. Mya because of an injury and I just found myself between horses and feeling that my better riding years were a thing of the past that I hope to regain. Perry listened to each of us and then made a point of saying that his clinics are non- judgemental. He asked us not to judge ourselves whilst we rode and not to pass judgement on anyone else either so everyone had a welcoming ,calm and encouraging environment to learn in today. ( There definitely needs to be more Perry’s in the horse world for this reason alone in my opinion.)
I watched the first 2 riders sessions and how each of them made vast improvements in their 45 min sessions. I was then my turn…Suddenly feeling a little bit daunted by Mya pulling me up to the arena, where she stood and seeming grew another hand on very already very ample 16.2hh she has already. I mounted and she was calm. We walked around, no spooks, no tension just relaxed like she knew the place and always came here! I could not believe it! So I then relaxed immediately too. When Perry asked what I wanted to work on I explained I was going to ask him to help me relax her but had to explain that she is more relaxed in this new arena than she is at home! So we did some lateral work to help build up some strength in her hind quarters and we worked on my position in the saddle. He encouraged me to sit more like a sack of potatoes and to soften my spine and when I did Mya immediately went into an outline. He also said I had show jumpers elbows – this is not the first time an instructor has said this to me. But what was really funny is that he said I ride like John Whitaker, a personal hero of mine from a very young age. The first horsey video I had as a child was a John Whitaker video about his very famous horse Milton that I repeatedly watched as a child. I didn’t realise I had actually based my own riding style on John Whitaker’s!! The lesson was a great success. Mya went beautifully, leg yielding and we did some shoulder in like dressage divas. I didn’t even know I could do that! The rest of the participants all came to tell me how amazing Mya looked when we were finished and I felt on top of the world.
After watching a couple more sessions ( this was definitely part of the fun too) and eating an amazing lunch including Rebecca’s sausage rolls, Fanny’s soup and a quiche It was time for my second lesson. I felt so happy with my morning session I thought that the second one probably wouldn’t be as good. Well I was wrong! It was even better. I really struggle to work Mya on a circle and to get her to bend correctly at home and yet after 45 mins with Perry I felt like we were Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin. Mya felt incredible! A little crowd gathered actually to come watch us as Mya strutted her stuff like a pro. Everyone including Perry videoed us and it felt amazing! The instruction Perry gave me was simple but so effective. He doesn’t shout a million things for me to do at the same time he just picked a few things and within a few minutes Mya became a dressage horse! We started by just turning her head in then mine as well aiming for a shoulder in at a trot on a circle. He got me to really angle my body to create this turn inwards and soon Mya was strutting around on this amazing circle, not only that, we kept it from walk to trot , trot to walk and we could change rein and not lose it. It felt incredible. Perry even said what a good rider I am – well I could of cried! After years of feeling very mediocre I felt I was riding at my full potential again. Everyone of the participants came up and congratulated me after my session and said how amazing we looked. I felt like a million dollars!
I just could not believe how well our sessions went. I was worried that Mya would be so wired I wouldn’t be able to get on. But in fact she was foot perfect! In fact I think it’s fair to say she actually stole the show!!! I could not be more happy with her. I had the BEST DAY! If you get to have a lesson with Perry Wood do it! I would go as far to say that he is the best riding instructor I have ever had and am looking forward to his next clinic already. I’m now off to buy all of his books!
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
From a very happy Louise and Valegro oops I mean Mya!! 😂❤️