Today was excellent, I felt like I’d really achieved something. We decided to drive out, rather than go in the school again. Jean suggested a quiet route where I could practice some of the things I’d been taught in the school.

After Dave had driven for a while, he handed over the reins to me. We approached a downhill stretch and Dave explained that by keeping Duke’s head carriage in a correct position I could help him get down the hill without falling forward on to his nose.

As the road levelled out at the bottom of the hill, Dave told me to put Duke into a steady trot and bingo, everything seemed to fall into place. I was sitting up, Duke was on the bit and working nicely. I could feel the difference through the reins and see him using his quarters, something you can’t see when riding.

Dave then told me to reduce the pace of the trot without losing the speed or impulsion we had established. I managed this too. I was most impressed with myself, although I am sure it may have looked very different from the ground.

Eventually, we came to a park with tracks and large areas of open access for cyclists, walkers, riders and carriage drivers. We halted and Dave stood at Duke’s head while I sorted out my reins into one hand. Eventually, I should be able to do this in one smooth movement, but, for safety’s sake at the moment, Dave is making sure that, while out in public, there’s no rein flapping or tangling going on.

After a quick catch up on our previous instruction, we set off. Hurrah! Again I seemed to be getting more of a tune out of Duke as we walked up a long straight road though the park. After a while we trotted, and I was feeling more confident.

Thanks to the unseasonable good weather, Dave asked me to pull over onto the grass, and attempt to drive a circle with the reins in one hand. After a few misjudgements, Dave showed me again where I should be holding the reins and how to make a turn one-handed. I finally managed to circle on both reins, and even to change the rein and complete a figure of eight.

As we left the park, Dave suggested I continue for a while on a straight, quiet road with one hand before switching back to two.

On the drive home, I really felt I was starting to get the hang of this and I’m eager to learn more. I just hope Dave and Jean realise how much they’ve given to me, it really is a fabulous way to enjoy horses.