Hoggy the Perfect Equine

For my birthday I was treated to a riding lesson with a difference. No cold, no mud and lots of learning. Meet Hoggy my new horse! Those that follow my blog will be aware of my fear of riding but I have started to really miss it. Maybe because it’s winter and I’m not out and about every weekend taking pics and kissing ponies. For most people, the winter is when they least want to ride but for me it’s when I have the most time.

Hoggy: What to wear?

The last time I rode was when I took Jolly for a canter at Camber Sands. I had the biggest smile on my face and loved every moment of it. I realised then I needed to do more but how? My confidence was low and I don’t have access to a lovely safe school master. Cue Hoggy! Richard offered as a birthday present to buy me a spin on Hoggy and was super excited to head over to Nicola at Sparrow’s Oast to meet him. Instructions were to wear my riding clothes so I managed to squeeze myself into my jodhpurs and after half an hour of searching located my gloves and my hat. On arrival, I could hear Nicola giving a lesson and it sounded intense! Eeeeekkkkk

So, on I hopped (scrabbled…using some very steep steps) I’ll be honest I wasn’t even sure I would get up there with any sort of grace. You don’t need to wear your hat but I guess it may affect your weight and how you hold your head so maybe it’s a good idea. Hoggy has his own barn with a heater so it was actually quite nice to be inside and relatively warm bearing in mind how cold it’s been recently. Now Hoggy is quite a clever chap. He has sensors in the saddle, along the side of him and also in his mouth. He is perfect for some very constructive feedback and he is in perfect balance.

Hoggy: Onto your bottom

First of all, Nicola just observed how I sat. She asked me to pick up the reins and put my feet in the stirrups as I normally would. Round she walked and then she took a picture. This didn’t bode well. She explained not too worry about the red dot on the screen in front of me and to tell her a bit about my riding and what I had done. Explaining how I had mainly learnt to ride ‘quiet’ on my friend’s horses and also racehorses I started to relax and Nicola explained how I was sloped to the left and also how stiff my arms were.

We gave up on stirrups for a while a Nicola popped Hoggy into a walk. Really looking at my balance and where my weight was. She explained how I over flex my spine, a problem that I have had all my life, and that this was meaning my weight was on my pubic bone rather than my seat bones. Adjusting me slightly and encouraging me to look in the mirror we spent a fair amount of time really looking at how I could correct that. Interestingly she asked if I suffered from lower back pain when standing for long periods of time, I do indeed! Once we had got my positon in walk, extending my mid spine, tucking my pelvis under but still relaxing my sternum we had a canter! Encouraging me all the time and with loads of helpful pointers. Eventually I was able to keep my core engaged and my balance whilst we went through trot, walk and canter.

Hoggy: Dalek Arms

I was feeling quite good at this point, knackered but like I had made real progress. Then we tried to get the arms involved. Previous instructors have called my Dalek arms and this is quite true. I really struggle to bend through the elbows and again Nicola was very hands on and full of help and encouragement. After a lot of tweaking we managed to get my arms in an acceptable position that Hoggy approved off. Then it was my feet and legs. Now I do have quite a tight pelvis and I walk with my foot turned to the right. Something that aggravates my knee and also means I get sciatic pain. This was very apparent on Hoggy and Nicola encouraged me to try and get a correct leg position using a little bean bag under my thigh.

Hoggy: Not just about the horse!

By this point I was pooped and it was really different but in a good way. I felt more secure and from looking at the reflection I think I had made a few changes.

Now whilst Hoggy is AMAZING I do think Nicola’s skill played a massive part in my getting so much out of the session. She has an amazing eye for detail and as a very experienced and established dressage rider herself she’s a fountain of knowledge. Even giving me exercises to do once I was home. Although I had my reservations prior to the session I would recommend Hoggy and Nicola to anyone just wanting to refine a skill or build their confidence. Hoggy can do all the movements up to Grand Prix Dressage so he is great for a rider to be able to be selfish and just focus on them. I think this so important as Hoggy is very forgiving and allows you to make errors without feeling bad.

By the end I loved it and can’t wait to get back for more! You can follow Hoggy on Facebook Here