I’m supposed to be showing at my barn’s local IEHJA show this weekend, but after losing the “Will I Lesson?” game too many times… I’ve taken Simon off the list. Truthfully, I’m super bummed. I was really looking forward to getting back in the ring with our new skills, but he got another abscess that sidelined him for a week. Although he’s sound and happy again and I’ve had some great rides, it’s not fair to my horse (or my pocketbook) to throw him in the ring when we’re not fully prepared… even if it is a super convenient at-home show.
After realizing I was going to miss the show, I did the super mature adult amateur thing and had a pity party for myself. That lasted approximately one afternoon, and after it I decided to allow myself to go to the next show, home or away, that we were realistically prepared for. So that is what we will do!
In the meantime, I wanted to update y’all on something fairly important. After over twenty years, I’m finally learning how to ride horses.
I know, I know… you’re probably thinking it only took her twenty years! She must be some kind of prodigy, but I assure you that I’m no better than anyone else at learning how to ride horses.
The biggest reason I’m bummed about missing the show and missing so many lessons lately, is that I’m pretty damn thrilled with how my riding is progressing. To say things simply — I love my new trainer.
This is not a slam on my Texas trainer, who I adore. There, I learned a lot of “big picture” pieces to get Simon around a course of jumps, ride more confidently and figure out this whole jumper world. I couldn’t have had any success with Simon without my Texas trainer, because she taught him how to relax and settle and helped me believe in myself.
But now I am getting a different kind of instruction, which doesn’t focus on the overall feel of a course, but instead with minute details. Here are some examples of feedback I’ve been getting in my lessons:
- Your rib cage has an obvious wobble to it.
- You need to open your inside shoulder before a turn so your arm has to do less of the work.
- You need to change the angle of your foot in the stirrup so your calf is hitting your horse instead of your heel.
- You moved your hands 2″ past the martingale strap on that transition. Don’t do that.
- Why are you nagging him with your heel?
- Are your toes curled in your boots? Make your toes flat.
- Tighten your elbows when you ask for the down transition.
- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY ARE YOU WOBBLING?
Even though I was jumping courses in every lesson before I left Texas, the most action poor Simon has gotten over fences (with me) has been a single crossrail. That might have been dejecting to me a year ago, but I feel how much smoother and even our canter is before and after that crossrail. There are moments of our flatwork where he is pushing forward into the bridle in the trot and I’m just posting along happily with still hands. My trainers have even started using the “H” word (Hunter!), and Simon has given the assistant trainer automatic changes on more than one occasion during her rides.
Simply put, things are going swimmingly.
So yes, it’s taking us longer to get showing than I hoped it would. And yes, I am struggling with the financial implications of keeping all of this up during graduate school when I am remarkably poor in almost every way. While half of me loses sleep worrying about how much I’m spending on riding, the other half of me thinks that a horse like Simon is often once in a lifetime and he won’t be young, healthy and sound forever. Plus, riding is frankly making me really damn happy right now… when I get to do it.
I’m trying to take things one day at a time, and get my skills as good as they can be while I have the opportunity to ride here. Feeling myself get stronger and better in the saddle (and wobble 95% less) is an addicting feeling. Almost as addicting as showing… almost.