Hippoi Athanatoi

Bah, I Say

I’ve had a few pretty rough days trying to balance (and not succeeding very well) work with the task of setting up the new forum, so I was really looking forward to today’s riding lesson as a good way to relax. But of course I got unlucky, and ended up having one of the worst lessons so far this semester.

It started when we signed in. Our regular instructor was away again, and as we were one person short, the replacement instructor had to drop one of the horses reserved for the class. Naturally, it turned out to be Malupin she wanted to drop, as he had done a couple of the lower-level lessons already. Of course, next to my name is a small list of the horses I am comfortable on, and none of the others could be used either, so she ended up having to keep him in after all. But it always makes me feel bad that I can’t just ride any one of the horses on offer. However, with an unfamiliar instructor and a strong wind that was rattling the arena, I knew I’d probably freak out on one of the larger horses if it spooked even just a little. Of course, as it would turn out, Malupin wasn’t exactly on his best behaviour today.

After the sign-in, I went to sign-up for extra lessons over the holidays. Then came disappointments two and three. Firstly, they hadn’t made the work schedule yet, so I had to sign up ‘blind’, without knowing what instructor I’d get. Secondly, the jumping lesson was full already. She offered to put me down as the first reserve, and I said sure, if Murphy hasn’t been taken already. At which point she chuckled and said no one picks him for jumping since he’s so unwilling. Well, I sure won’t complain that he’s not much liked, but she’s so wrong. He loves to jump, and does it darn well, if you just handle him right. You have to be firm, certainly, but you also have to praise and encourage him a lot. In any case, in addition to being on the reserve list for the jumping, I managed to sign up for one semi-private dressage lesson (will be sharing it with another girl from my regular group) and one regular dressage lesson. I might add a second dressage lesson tomorrow, if I can get my regular instructor to say its okay for me to ride in a group one level above my usual group. And if that one isn’t full too, of course.

So ... with all of that out of the way, I went and tacked up Malupin, and proceeded down to the arena with the rest of the group. Once we’d mounted up, we got a nasty surprise, as our instructor decided that some stretching exercises would be a good start. In general, I suppose it is a good idea, but I really don’t like letting go of both stirrups and reins on a sometimes-skittish horse like Malupin when its very windy outside. And of course he felt my tension and tensed up a little extra. Not a good start. And it didn’t get better, as we continued to practice our canter transitions this week too, doing them one at a time. If anything, Malupin was even more eager this week. As a result, I lost my nerve completely, tipped my upper body forward and stopped riding effectively. If it had been for a little while, I could have gotten through it okay, but we did the transitions for the better part of the class, and I just got tenser and tenser. He didn’t really do anything beyond bounce as the horse ahead of him started canter, but every time I tried to canter he went off very explosively, and I just didn’t feel in control at all. And that just brings back too many memories of being stuck on a bolting horse.

Towards the end, I managed to canter a bit, and the trot we finished off with was pretty good, but overall I wasn’t happy with myself, or the fact that I didn’t feel as relaxed as usual after the lesson. It’ll be nice to have our regular instructor back next week, and I am hoping for a change of horse for a week or two as well.

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