Equestrian Life
BLOG: When Opportunity Knocks (Part 3)

Abbie O'Brien March Blog

Abbie and Rajah.

© Abbie O'Brien


Abbie was fortunate enough to be selected to take part in the Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass at Boneo Park. In part three of her blog, she discusses the moment she and Rajah nailed their one time changes in front of the capacity crowd...

By Abbie O'Brien



We then began the one tempi changes. Rajah has only been learning these for six months or so and they were certainly not the easiest movement to teach him. For starters, I had never had the opportunity to ride one tempi changes before on another horse – so this makes it awfully difficult when trying to teach a horse that equally has no idea. So, I eventually got my timing and Rajah got his legs coordinated and we have managed to get them established. I was not sure how they would go in that moment when Charlotte asked to see them – I had not ridden them in that environment before so tentatively I asked him for ones down the next long side.

Nailed them! Except, I lost my stirrup which Charlotte was not pleased about! She told me to keep my leg and heel down and just touch him lightly with the spur next time as she was confident he would do them with just the touch from the spur and not the leg. She also wanted them bigger, bolder and more forward! BE BRAVE she said! So the next long side we did them again. Nailed them! Kept my stirrup this time but she wanted more again! So, Rajah, bless him the little engine that could – 17 one tempis down the long side and they were forward, uphill, bold, and off the lightest touch of the spur. I started grinning from ear to ear and glanced a sideways look at Charlotte and she was smiling too. I think she was enjoying teaching me as much as I enjoyed being taught! Rajah got lots of clapping from the crowd and earned a short walk break. We did a little more work in the canter – he anticipates going sidewards after doing the flying change in canter zig zag so we worked on keeping him straight in the canter following the change and not letting him drop his shoulders to the right or left.


Abbie O'Brien and Rajah's Rave, Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass - Photo Stephen Mowbray

Abbie and Rajah putting their best hoof forward under the watchful eye of Charlotte.

© Stephen Mowbray


We then went into trot and did some long forward half passes across the arena – keeping him active and swinging over the back. Charlotte wanted to see what we could do with the trot – just how much can we manipulate it to make it better. Rajah is an ordinary horse with regard to paces but he has an uncanny work ethic and always puts in every ounce that he can.

We played a little with going forward and coming back in the trot – leg on but soft hands to not confuse him. I gave him a few taps on top of the rump and his hind legs snapped up and he started to push and engage from behind. We improved the trot – he became more elastic, more expressive and cadenced with every step. With instruction from Charlotte, I then half halted him into passage and he was truly dancing for me. The crowd started clapping with every step and I was smiling once again ear to ear. I think he knows when to put on a show – he just tried his heart out and what more could have I asked from him?


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Charlotte did say that he is the horse that everyone would want to take home. That comment really made me smile because for all his quirkiness and difficulty we have had together over the years he is as honest as they come. We completed our session and I exited the arena. I burst into tears. I had just had the most amazing experience and I had an overwhelming feeling of love for my horse. We are a partnership; friends who have been together for years. I look back now and think that we can lose sight of why we began riding in the first place – because we love horses. I know being competitive brings with it a lot of stress, a high degree of seriousness and professionalism, but I received an ultimate reminder after that ride; we still have to recognise the times when we need to appreciate how lucky we are and to just enjoy them.


Abbie O'Brien March Blog

© Abbie O'Brien









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