Hesitation

16 12 2013

So, my final lesson of the year was a bit frustrating, but very helpful. Neither of the two other ladies I usually ride with were in this week, and I was surprised to find myself being paired up in a cut-price semi-private lesson with one of the Interchangeable Emmas. This one in particular apparently now lives at the school (the school owners live on site), I learned from overhearing her conversation with my instructor, who appeared to know her quite well. I also gleaned from passively listening in that all of the school horses are loan horses, so they will be going back to their owners for the Christmas holiday. This was useful knowledge, as I had been thinking of asking if they needed any volunteer help during the break but I know not to ask now.

The lass was clearly ahead of me in terms of ability, and was riding Quarry, who I have ridden before; he’s another fairly green horse, who is reasonably forward-going but needs a lot of rider input to stay on the track, transition and what have you. She managed him admirably, even with a bit of finesse. I, on the other hand, had Dan.

We warmed up in open order, like one of my usual lessons (my instructor explained the format of our lessons to the Interchangeable Emma, and we stuck with that). As in the previous week, she pushed me to try and get Dan to strike off into canter on both reins. Frustratingly, both times around – along with all the usual problems I’d expect to have with Dan, such as having to constantly fight to keep his head in front of him, having to be firm and put up with him stopping suddenly and going, ‘Nope.’ and veering into the middle of the school for no real reason, I did manage to get him on the track in a nice, forward-going trot and to get the transition into canter a couple of times, but only for one stride at a time before he went headlong into Just Trotting Really Fast. My instructor asked me if I wanted to take my stirrups away and ride without them, and I gratefully accepted; we resumed our warm-up riding walk-trot-walk-halt transitions, with me working on my position with input from her.

From the warm up, we each took half of the school and rode a 20 metre circle with transitions. I didn’t pay any attention to what my instructor told the Interchangeable Emma she wanted her to work on, because I was concentrating on two things: Keeping Dan going forwards, and getting him to bend into a circle, rather than a square with rounded corners. My instructor asked me to ride walk-halt-walk-halt transitions, while standing behind me and telling me to keep my seat bones square on his back, as too much movement from my seat as I applied my leg aids was making it more difficult for him to move. She also told me which leg to push him on from when his shoulders were incorrectly aligned for the bend I would like, and it was like a ‘Eureka!’ moment. After we’d been doing that for a while, we worked in trot, and in the faster gait I felt him lighten, become much more responsive to my asks, and tangibly softer to the inside (like he’s supposed to feel on a circle!)

Then we moved onto the canter exercises, where once again I proved to be my own worst enemy. We re-tried the exercise in which one trots a 20 metre circle, then transitions into canter and goes large. I got a very fast trot with excellent impulsion out of Dan… but hesitated on the transition because it was so unexpected from Dan that I’ll freely admit I panicked a bit. My instructor saw that this was exactly what had happened and made me go around again and repeat the exercise; then I got the canter. The first time, she highlighted that I’d panicked because something I didn’t expect from the horse I was riding had happened, and that she has noted that this my main problem, but reassured me that everything had been going perfectly right up until the moment I’d hesitated, and if I could just get that going again and go with it it would be much better. So on my next go, I did, but failed to keep it going because I was so surprised by how easy it was that I forgot to move with the canter.

We went around again on the other rein and I had more success that time, and a lively canter that lasted almost to the back of the ride and left me giggling. Then my instructor paid me what I’m choosing to take as an enormous compliment: ‘If we could just iron out your hesitation, you’d be a really good rider.’ I do appreciate that it’s a criticism and it’s quite a back-handed one at that, but I know my nerves hold me back; they always have done. I do think they’re getting better, though, little by little, and as frustrating as horse riding can sometimes be because you can’t easily see your own progress over time, Rome was not founded in a day, etc.; It’s nice being told that apart from my one biggest nemesis, everything else looks good. After all…

Incidentally, here is the video from yesterday. I love to see the horses all running around together, it makes me happy 😀 Starring Dan (black cob), Dylan (chestnut sport horse), Elvis (piebald pony with the most black patches), Paddy (the other piebald pony) and Dezzy (the big skewbald horse).

So… How does one ‘iron out’ one’s hesitation? Answers on a postcard, please.

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3 responses

17 12 2013
theInelegantHorseRider

Like you I suffer from my nerves and I want to get over it then I found this article today
http://www.crktrainingblog.com/fear-of-riding-horses-what-causes-it-and-how-to-overcome-it/
And it kind of helped me see that some of my anxiety at points is ok and do you know what you are doing more and more, your nerves and hesitations are probably coming at different points now – I know mine are.
Plus I love this quote
“Fear means you’re growing. Every time you stretch yourself, aim a little higher, or take a risk, you’re going to experience some anxiety. So fear itself is not the issue. […] Besides, if you’re not afraid at times, it just means that you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone and living big enough.”
So by having nerves and hesitation it shows we are stepping out of our comfort zone and living big! 🙂

20 12 2013
Soapy Photo Girl

Thank you – I’ve only just found the time to read that article, I’m afraid, but I found it both interesting and helpful. I find it remarkable that a lot of the advice she is giving is the same advice my counsellor gave me for managing everyday life while I was at university. Heh.

Guess it’s back to daily meditation and visualisation exercises, then… 🙂

31 12 2013
Sparrowgrass

I’ve nominated you for a Sunshine award 🙂

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