Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sit down, shut up and RIDE!

After feeling a little better about my unexplainable lack of umph to get out and ride thanks to Ashley of the Process of Learning's reassurance that I'm not the only one that has those days, I headed home for a quick bite to eat and made my way out to the barn.

I should mention that I DID grab a cheque for Coach W...and then forgot it in my pocket after the whole lesson! Aurgh.

Got out to the 'barn' in the rain, which thankfully ended as I pulled up to the gate. Mr. Moon was way out in the back of the field, and didn't come to the fence...reassurance that he really doesn't give a dang. Considering he looked up at me when I approached and quickly buggered off in the opposite direction (despite the fresh apple in my hand), I'm fairly certain he'd rather graze then go to lessons. Oh well, guess that's to be expected.

He only ate a third of the apple, a nice crisp Granny Smith to boot, so I can only think that my peppermint treats are 'da bomb', since that's about all he'll consumer. Even refused sugar cubes from Coach W...

I was all alone hauling out again, and was a little less paranoid about my horse falling out the back of the trailer then normal. Granted, I quadruple checked that everything was closed up tight. Out at W's, he was a little nervous when standing tied to the trailer, but calmed down quickly. After the last escapade where I tried to hold and tack him, I opted to trailer tie. Which he did wonderfully, making me certain he'll someday be a great little show pony.

Into the arena we went, and W had us lift the reins (quite high it felt) in order to avoid contact of the bit on his tongue. He's VERY sensitive to tongue pressure, and tends to lift or pull back his tongue when rein aids are applied. W thinks his thick head means he likely has a thicker tongue, meaning there's not a lot of room in his mouth, so even a little bit of rein pressure will bug him. He rides in a lovely soft double jointed egg butt, and W agrees that it's very gentle. At the end of the day, it's how I use it, and there's no point in purchasing a different style, as the same problem will exist. Unfortunately, it is clear that he has been used in a harsher leverage bit in the past, which due to the discomfort and pain, is paranoid about it happening again. So when pressure is applied, he braces and avoids, not realizing that it's not going to be like it was in the past. Our goal now, is to slow teach him that things are different in my hands, and he can trust me. Little by little, I can see that he's learning that lesson, as he slowly softens, drops and chews on the bit. It's a slow process, but he's had likely 9 years of learning the bit hurts and it's going to take more then a month to change his mind.

We worked out on the circle at a trot, as our walk has really come a long way. At first, I was really struggling, trying to pay attention to all of the directions W was giving me. I needed to sit tall, stop letting my hands slide forward, keep my elbows bent, post on the correct diagonal, not let my legs slip forward or swing all over the place, keep contact on the outside rein, lift the inside rein, bend, inside leg pressure, outside leg steady....and on and on and on.

Trying to focus on correcting all of that was exhausting. I was moving around absolutely horribly, until at some point I stopped thinking about the directions. I just sat deep into my saddle, straightened up, turned my attention to Moon and rode.

It sounds weird, since yes, I was already riding, but in all honesty, I wasn't. I was simply trying to follow a set of directions laid out before me. In that moment, I started to feel Moon and his responses. My reactions were based on what I felt, instead of what I was being told to do. Suddenly, in one of those "Oh, Wow" moments, I could feel that I was on the wrong diagonal, BEFORE W told me. It FELT wrong, and I adjusted. I started asking him to move and bend by altering my movements based on his responses, and our tempo slowed, his shoulder started to come up, our rhythm improved and as I told W when we came to a halt, for the first time I felt like we were moving TOGETHER, as one.

When we did halt at that point, after some successful 1/2 circles and a few fleeting moments of obtaining something we desired, I sat a little overwhelmed in the saddle. It was not perfect. It was imperfect more then it was perfect, but there WAS moments of 'perfect'. There were moments where we were both doing exactly what we intended, moving in sync. THOSE rare and fleeting moments were what took me aback.

Sitting there, and I'm embarrassed but okay to admit it, my eyes started to well up, as I madly blinked back tears. Most people, non-horsey people especially, would not understand that moment. But sitting there, I realized that for a moment, me and my dream horse, my heart horse, my first horse, rode as one. We were partners. True partners. Yes, it was brief, but after only 5 lessons and just over a year together, we had found our first moment of true harmony.

When you dream of this, pursue this, work towards this, and for a brief moment, you have it, how can you not be overwhelmed? It was in that moment, I realized we CAN get there. This time it may have been short, but each time, it'll get a little longer. A little better. And more then anything else, more then posting the correct diagonal, then keeping my elbows bent and my head up, MOST of all, I need to start trusting myself, and RIDE my horse. W can't give me every direction in every moment. I'm not going to 'break' him or ruin all our work if I make a mistake or do something that doesn't work. I'll just have to try something different. And it's in trusting myself, that we connect, that he trusts me, and we become horse and rider, a team.

W told me to stop worrying so much, to think for myself and trust my judgement. While she loves that I'm no 'know it all' or refuse to listen to guidance, I spend too much time looking to her to tell me what to do, instead of doing. Too much time beating myself for all the things I'm not doing, instead of seeing and learning from what I am.

So I'd like to say, that from this moment on, I'm going to SIT DOWN, SHUT UP and RIDE, though I know it'll take a little more then one "Oh, WOW" moment to get there. But I believe in us, and I know we're going to get there. I'm going to keep yesterday in my mind and focus on how I felt in that moment...and ride until the next one comes along.


  1. I know exactly what you mean when you say, "There were moments where we were both doing exactly what we intended, moving in sync." I always pray for those moments in transitions, because mine are messy.

  2. : ) It's always SOMETHING isn't it?! It's like if they're great at transitions, they don't bend. If they're great at bending, you can never get them straight. If they're straight, then they're bad at transitions! Aurgh!