Alilson at Pony’Tude had a great post the other day when she posted a series of equitation photos showing her progress as a rider. Even in the early “bad” shots, I was pretty impressed.
See, riding did not come naturally to me. I figured that because I read every horse book known to mankind by age nine, I would just be a natural. I thought I would speak horse! I thought I was destined to win blue ribbons at my very first show.
In reality, the first time I went to a horse farm for lessons I walked up to the tape electric fence and grabbed it with both hands. Not. Even. Joking.
This is background to say that riding has been a struggle for me. Equitation? Even more so.
Early days learning to jump on my first horse were spotty at best.
I’m sure you’re all shocked to hear that partnership did not work out long term. With Elvis, my second horse and saintly creature, I was the one “teaching” him to jump since he came from a western background. Since I am no George Morris, that lead to some interesting choices… like being REALLY SURE to release so I wouldn’t catch him in the mouth.
There was that time we moved to the “real” hunter/jumper barn in college, and showed up with my stirrups about 8 holes too long and having forgot my diagonals.
At that barn, I did a lot of jumping on my own. While having constant practice (I did take lessons too) doing courses helped my overall security, it did not solve my friends “bracing at the knee” and “flinging lower leg.”
When that started getting a little bit better, I learned that a true hunter is one that takes a nap on the neck. To be fair, Elvis jumped with cute bascule so there was a very comfy spot to lay on!
Eventually, we did get a little bit better…
And then moved to a different hunter barn where the very proper, very serious trainers found some -ahem- issues with my riding choices.
But we trained a lot, and things got better.
Then I sold my horses and moved to MA for two years of little to no riding. When I started back up in Texas, some old habits followed me here.
Like… RELEASE ALL THE THINGS!
And jump ahead with no lower leg support!
But we started working on it.
There was that one special show where I decided I would try an auto release out of the blue for the hell of it… and I did not succeed.
Eventually, I learned to break at the hip (more) properly. My leg grew more solid. My release contained itself.
Things started coming together.
Though I don’t consider myself an equitation rider by any means, I don’t feel like I’ll get laughed out of the equitation ring now. Sure, my position has a lot to improve on and we’re not exactly a winning eq pair… but there has been lots of progress since I stuck my hands on the electric fence 20 years ago.