Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Becoming a rider!

A funny thing has happened recently: I'm becoming a rider. Sounds strange, I know...haven't I been riding for quite a while now?

Yes and no. I've been riding, but only horses I know well, or "lesson" horses, who are said to be safe to ride. But certainly not the green-broke horses at the Ranch. I've been afraid to get on those, for the most part.

I have been riding, and taking lessons, with an excellent local (but soon to be nationally known) trainer. Her specialty is the Monte Foreman "basic handle," which schools the horse as it gets the rider used staying balanced while the horse makes sharp but controlled turns.

So I have been getting myself ready, working up my nerve, but still saying no every time Jay suggested I ride one of our horses.

But yesterday the amazing thing occurred: when Jay urged me to ride a little "walkaloosa," two and a half years old and 13-odd hands high, with maybe half a dozen rides on him, I agreed.

I had worked with him on the ground quite a bit, and he was behaving very well. He had demonstrated that he was willing for me to ride him, by moving willingly and freely on a lead line, no matter how much speed I asked him for, and then relaxing once I let off the pressure.

So I saddled him up, worked him for a bit longer on the ground, and on.

Yesterday, he argued quite a bit, but I insisted, politely but firmly, until he gave in. I mean, really, fella, all we're doin' here is followin' your nose.... It was a short ride--maybe ten minutes--and we never moved past a walk.

Today, we had our second ride, once we'd gotten our ground-school review out of the way. And we did fine! Jay even complimented me again today on how well I communicate with the horse, and how I was willing to engage him in some pretty energetic moving of his hindquarters, where other riders haven't been.

Best of all, I felt confident, secure, and capable. The little horse was willing (mostly), and we actually moved up into whatever it is that's just faster than his "trot," or whatever that gait is on a "walkaloosa." It felt like a tiny, fast-but-smooth canter. Reminded me of a paso fino that I rode once--feet moving ninety miles an hour, ground speed about a quarter of a mile an hour....

So, success on many, many fronts. Think I'm most happy with the feeling I have about it: such a boost to my confidence. Can't wait for the next ride!

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