22 05 2012

Second awesome Tuesday in a row!

Today’s break from the norm was a team of blacksmiths coming in to fit the horses with new shoes! Aside from their world-standard attire of mechanic’s trousers and overalls, they were just as you’d expect a team of Japanese blacksmiths; serious, professional, and with long hair and a headband tied around the forehead. Heh. They all seemed like very nice men, and I was impressed with the way the handled the horses; gently but firmly, and I never heard a single one of them shout ‘Hora!‘ at any of the horses, instead just looking up at them and speaking to them softly when they tried to kick or yank their hooves back. It was very interesting to see them work, anyway.

The oldest of them at one point stopped suddenly in front of me as he was walking past and just looked me in the eye for a few moments. I’m unused to being approached in this way, so I stood my ground and returned a puzzled, enquiring smile. Then he asked me brusquely which country I came from, which lead to a chat about the Olympics. In spite of his abrupt approach, he struck me as being friendly and jolly. Heh.

Anyway, today I rode Shirika again. Shirika’s long name is Kaorizakura, the first part of which can mean ‘sweet-smelling’, which I personally think is a fitting name as I like the way horses smell. She is still a funny one. It makes me chuckle when she raises her head high as I stand close to her and looks down on me with one eye; I can’t read the emotion behind it, but I’m going to start referring to it as The Northern Look, because there is definitely a hint of disapproval in there. Heh. In any case, once I was on her back she was just as magical to ride as last time.

Once again, it was pouring with rain, but I did not mind this one bit. I actually like how the rain makes it seem a bit more dramatic. Particularly as today I was practising trotting again. I was started off just trotting as normal, but after several attempts and lots of pointers about improving my riding posture and then being made to do it again, my sempai suggested I trot without stirrups – which I have done before, but never without being on a lead nor on a horse without a strap on the front of its saddle for me to hang on to! The point of the exercise, however, was to help me get used to doing it with the right posture, and to demonstrate that it’s okay to just relax in the saddle.

However, before it actually happened, when he suggested it as the next thing I would do I initially panicked, afraid at the idea that I might fall off. This feeling vanished, however, when he then asked me what I thought and if I would be scared, to which I thought to myself, No way, bitch! and just went for it. (I’m like that.) As I went round and round, keeping all of the advice I’d been given in mind (back and neck straight, legs relaxed, looking straight ahead and not down at the horse, straight line through my arm to the horse’s mouth), I was genuinely surprised by how not-scary it was. Yes, there were several moments where I thought I was going to fall off, and I did have to do the odd bit of nudging with one leg to keep her going around the edge of the pen and not straying into the middle of it, and I am not saying it was by any means easy, but I surprised myself by how well I coped with it – and by not falling off. My sempai asked me as I was going round how it was and if it was scary, and I replied that no, it wasn’t, and I was surprised by this. Heh.

Then I rode Shirika out of the pen, through the yard and back into the stable, where I dismounted. I briefly assisted in washing her, but then had to leave for a class.

Today’s lesson really made me happy. While I love horse riding and cannot get enough of it, I have never claimed to be any good at it and I thought I was picking it all up really slowly. Today made me feel as though my competence might actually be increasing, and that has done wonders for both my self-esteem and my motivation.




2 responses

22 05 2012

Time without stirrups makes me happy too – I feel like I’m more ‘with’ the horse and less ‘perched on top.’ My sitting trot is still atrocious though!

23 05 2012

I know *exactly* what you mean! I think I commented after the first time I did it that it feels more like ‘riding’ and less like ‘sitting on a moving horse’. In spite of the mild fear of falling off, I think it’s much easier than the sitting/rising trot!

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