Ouch Rodrigo, My Foot Hurts!

Going through improvements in the walk

Jenny from Redhills Stud had organised another session with Rodrigo Matos and since our last one was so good I jumped at the opportunity to go again. Rodrigo Matos is a quiet reserved character, he is unassuming when you first meet and soft spoken. He is a polar opposite to me and my loud animated personality. When it comes to training he has an incredible eye for a horse. Methodically he looks at your work and the gaits and seems to instantly know what needs to be adjusted to get the result.

I love training and would rarely like one trainer over another, what I enjoy about different trainers is the approaches they take. Rodrigo is exceptionally methodical about each session, you can almost feel him building a plan for you as you warm up. He takes you through each gait, and works on the challenges that you will be facing at your level.

Excitedly on Saturday morning I packed up my jeep and hitched up the trainer. I was heading into Duchess to get her dressed and pop on her travel boots. As I slid the stable door open, it caught on the top rail and some how jumped down onto my little toe. The pain was significant, I said some things that no lady should ever say, thankfully I’m not a lady so I cursed like a docker.

The toe, and that purple bit on the inside of the tow is not a shadow!

I suspected that with the level of pain I was feeling , I had probably broken my toe. Hell or high water though, I was not giving up my training session. So I continued and put Duchess into the trailer anyway and drove to Redhills stud near Kildare village. The drive was fine and I thought that maybe I had just really badly hurt it, however, as soon as I arrived in Redhills I knew I had broken the toe. When I put my foot on the ground it was agony and walking was torture. Of course, I tacked up and carried on. Two paracetamol and I’ll be grand.

The session with Rodrigo was brilliant, oddly I couldn’t do sitting trot because it hurt my toe more. Anyway, broken toe or not I know that you are only interested in what I learned in the session. As I mentioned Rodrigo works methodically though each movement and gait getting the most out of you and your horse. He has the most amazing problem solving skills when it comes to the challenges. Assessing you and your horse he immediately has a solution, no trial and error or process of elimination. He simply gives you the steps you are to take, one, two three and simple, you horse does it.

From the last session we had Rodrigo felt that we had both really improved. Duchess was stronger and more supple than the last time and he was very happy with the changes in our lateral movements. For the whole session we tweaked a number of things and we also worked on her flying changes. The key things that we did to improve some of our work.

  1. Contact – The main issue that we have is contact, my reins are too long and my outside contact is not consistent enough. Of course when I get this closer to where I need to be Duchess fights me. However, with the correct balance of work and forwardness into the contact she improved and became less argumentative about it.
  2. Straightness – From our last session I had been working on improving her straightness, particularly along the edge of the arena. She had a tendency to carry her quarters in on the long side. Interestingly I had overcorrected this and was now riding in more of a shoulder in position. This was mainly due to lacking a firm contact on the outside rein.
  3. Flying Changes – Duchess does great changes from left to right but we have been struggling with right to left. I loved how Rodrigo helped with this. Again this was an outside rein contact issue combined with her not jumping though at the point of asking. Sickeningly simple to fix, I needed to be clearer in my weight, leg and contact aids/changes and give her a very light tap with the whip at the point of asking. Since Duchess sees the whip as her sworn enemy the changes were ‘springy’ to say the least.

It was a fantastic session again and I just hope I remember everything from it. The best thing to hear for me is that Duchess and I had improved and she is more supple than the last session. Again though I was in trouble for not being good enough at sitting trot. Seriously, I need to suck it up and start doing it a tonne more… and not break anything else before the lesson.

I’m afraid that for the next few weeks it’s Equine Sports Massage with Ruth Gaynor for Duchess and rest for me. Thanks Jenny for the grub, paracetamol, organising the training and use of your lovely venue. Oh and for those of you who plan on breaking a toe, you can’t do anything with a broken little toe, just strap it to the one next to it.

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