Friday, February 22, 2013

The next lesson

In the absence of the ability to write cogently about life at the moment, I will tell you more horse stories. Not because there is anything bad going on, but because I can't do justice to what I want to say right now. It needs to percolate some more before the words fall together to tell my story.

But I can tell you about my lesson, and about other horse stuff.

Thursday morning was my lesson, with Allison, one of the older teens who rides at the barn. It was exactly the kind of weather I don't love to ride in -- very cold, very windy, very bright sunshine with a cloudless blue sky. Deep down, I fight with my inner chicken nearly every time I get on a horse. Why? Because when I can silence that damned fowl cackling away, a partnership with a horse is beyond like flying, beyond magic, beyond power, beyond description. And so as I groomed and tacked up Mr. Princess (that would be Champ, such a sensitive guy), I felt the cold chicken-y fear in the pit of my stomach.

"Today is not a good day to jump."
"Today is too cold and too windy, and what if he gets away from you?"
"Today is a good day to ride on the flat and work on your seat."
"Today is not a good day to jump. What if you jump him as badly as last time? What if it's worse?"

I know, I'm my own worst damn enemy some days.

Champ was actually pretty good in the cross-ties, he only kicked out once when I brushed his belly, and that was kind of halfhearted, and not really directed at me. I switched to a neoprene girth to see if that made him any more comfortable, and decided against my spurs. Not with this wind. I had a feeling he'd be dancing all over the place.

Allison had big Beau, who was definitely ready to go. In the ring, Champ was really walking out nicely. We took our time, and he didn't really give me any grief. His free walk was the nicest I think I've ever had the privilege to ride, and he only made a lame attempt at opening the gate and leaving one time.

I rode three of the best dressage tests I've done with him so far. HUGE confidence boost. And I only needed to let him have it with my leg like once or twice before we got started. He certainly is no whiz at dressage at the moment (which is at least partly my fault, I'm sure), but I feel slightly closer to figuring out which buttons to push, so to speak, to get the results I am looking for. 

I also told my trainer I wanted to work on my stability and security in the saddle -- my seat. So, I spent ten agonizing minutes riding without stirrups at the posting and sitting trot. Ugh. good for me, but I know I will be hurting. I'm already hurting. Ow.

There was one halt, where one leg, Champ's left front, was slightly out of place, a little forward of square, and Kathy, my trainer, said "Squeeze your left rein."  I did, and his leg moved back, into the perfect position for a square halt. Breathe. Relax. Settle.


We eventually did some cavaletti at the trot, which I felt pretty good about, and then I switched horses with Allison so she could jump Champ for me. 

Beau is a BIG guy. Kira loves to ride him, and I never have. Even Wren likes to ride him. Champ, at 15 hands, has nearly cured me of the desire to ride a big horse.

Also, Champ is CUTE as HELL when he jumps! I had no idea!

I think I might be okay for this horse trials. Kathy says I can come to the barn and ride at least one other day besides my lesson during the week, and that goes a long way toward making me feel more confident. Half my problem is that I *know* I don't ride enough to really be secure in the saddle for this event. But now I can fix that.

I'm borrowing a show coat from a friend and sending in my registration next week.

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