The Fear is Gone

12 06 2014

I did it! I made it to two consecutive riding lessons! Go me 😀

This week was a bit of a funny one. It was fairly standard in that all three of us regulars were in attendance (a fourth woman’s name was on the roster, but she didn’t turn up, so I guess it remains to be seen  whether our group gets expanded), however at the start of the lesson we had a shuffle-round of horses. I’d been given Elvis, who I would have been more than happy to ride (obstreperous little sod that he is), but I’d remembered that in the previous week’s lesson our instructor had told the other lady that she’d been given Maddy for so many consecutive weeks that she’d try and get her a different horse for this week, and had suggested Elvis. The lady in question had been paired with Maddy again, so before I mounted Elvis I suggested to the instructor that we swap.

I had not yet noticed that the other lady had Bramble, so you can probably imagine the noise I had to suppress when my instructor said, ‘You get on quite well with Bramble, don’t you? Would you like to try her tonight?’ I’d have been happy with any of the three of them, to be honest, but another ride with Bramble! It felt like it’d been too long. (For anyone that didn’t know, she’s the horse coyly peering over the stable door in my user picture.) I greeted her with a lot of fuss, and she seemed initially not to be too grumpy.

That lasted about as long as it took me to ask her to walk on, but no surprises there. It was hot and she was bothered; that much was obvious. Right up until the very end of the lesson, any leg aid had to be backed up with a kick and a tap of the whip. Unbeknownst to me, she’d needed a wee since the beginning of the lesson an apparently sometimes it takes her a long time to have one, so I misinterpreted her occasional stops with refusal to move further as recalcitrance and was strict with her. When she finally did manage to go, and my instructor explained to me that this is often the case with her, I felt so bad that she got an almighty fuss. I was in lead file at that point, so I made everybody else wait while I apologised to her. Hah.

We warmed up in open order. I could feel that I wasn’t going to get a canter out of Bramble at that point, so I didn’t bother asking; instead I worked on walk-trot-walk-halt transitions in a bid to get her listening to me. The main exercise we did this week, without stirrups, was trotting between two pairs of cones on one long side of the school, to push on to a walk at the first pair and back into trot at the second. Bramble tried to give up several times but I just pushed her on. The one bit of input I got from our instructor was that Bramble was almost working in a nice outline, but she just needed a bit more energy coming from her back end. For once, in this lesson I was more or less left to get on with it while she gave feedback and instruction to the other two ladies. Partly, it seemed, because Elvis was being a little monster. I saw him stop dead in his tracks a couple of times, and on one of those he made what looked to me like a stroppy little bunny-hop with his back legs like a moody teenager stamping his feet. Bramble also pinned her ears and threatened to bite him when he got too close to her – thereafter in the lesson I tried hard to keep her away from the other horses, rather than us working as a ride.

At the end of the lesson our group only had five minutes left for canter, so we just had a couple of quick goes on each rein with Bramble as lead file. I don’t know what the logic was there, but I wasn’t complaining as it helped me keep her going forwards. We got our canter every time I asked, and I managed to sit to her tumultuous gait with some concentration. It felt weird; I had to activate and use my core muscles to synch the motion of my pelvis with that of Bramble’s back beneath me, while at the same time remaining supple. Not easy! But I managed it, and I was complimented on how ‘nice’ the canter had been. We came a bit unstuck when we got to the corner marked out by poles dividing the arena in two, which may or may not have been due to the absence of the boards. Knowing Bramble as well as I do, I don’t think it was eagerness on her part to get to the back of the ride and be reunited with the other horses!

The most positive thing I took from this lesson was that my fear of cantering would now appear to be all gone away. I wasn’t worried about it leading up to it; I didn’t hesitate to ask for the transition. I just went for it and it worked. I realise that being able to get a transition to canter and keep it going for more than a few strides is only the beginning and that I have so much more to learn and perfect going forwards, but this still feels like a major milestone in my riding.

I’d really like to go on a hack soon, in all three gaits. Hopefully soon we’ll get the opportunity to go out as a ride into the woods as had previously been suggested.

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4 responses

12 06 2014
theInelegantHorseRider

Well done you! That’s great to hear. You will do brilliantly on a hack in all three gaits, great fun being out and about. Hope you get the chance to do it soon. 🙂

12 06 2014
Soapy Photo Girl

Thank you! I hope so 🙂

12 06 2014
kshai1715

Congrats! It always feel great to achieve something and bump up your confidence !!!! 😀 Good job!

29 06 2014
gsug

Yay!

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