The Experience of a New Rider in the English Dsicipline
Last Tuesday I had my first English riding lesson (I had one on Thursday as well and will have one tomorrow). I have had a few official lessons in the Western discipline in past, and sometimes had the rare opportunity to be on a few other horses. So yeah I am a newbie. I have also been lurking on this site for a little while on and off, didn't have anything to post before now.....
I originally come from a middle size town in the middle of Illinois called Lincoln (20 minutes north of Springfield just for reference). Most of the large animals around there are cows, although it is not uncommon to see horses. My grandmother owns an old farm that had horses in the 70's but horses don't make money at all in my area so she raised cows, chickens, sheep, pigs, a goat, and at some point turkeys until 5 years ago when my step-father died and none of my uncles wanted to put all the work into the animals like my step-dad did. And since my grandmother moved into town five years ago, the place has been vacant. So I thought, since I have always been fascinated by horses, why not try some lessons and see how they are? If I really like them then maybe in the future the farm can have some life again if I really take to it and get some serious experience under my belt. (Of course the place is going to need some updating and repair.) So that is a little about me I guess, not sure if anyone was interested in that, but there it is lol. ^^
I was quite nervous for my first lesson. My only other experience with riding lessons was 10 years ago and it was not a good one in the least bit. I won't go into too much detail, but there were a total of 12 riders that alternated between 6 horses in a 1 hour slot once a week for four weeks. And I was so nervous back then that I allowed my lesson horse to squeeze my leg against the wall a few times (not the horse's fault, I should have been more directive with it). Thus, you can get an idea of the anxiety before my first English lesson. This time around though I am doing a 30 minute private lesson. A lot better I can tell you!
They put me on an Chestnut thoroughbred named Remmy who is very calm, forgiving, and a little lazy according to my riding instructor. Perfect horse to learn on, because I have a lot to learn. The first lesson I understood why balance is important in the English discipline. Going from a little experience in Western to English it was quite the shock. Walking was not too bad, but it was when I started trotting that my inexperience really showed. For the first time I began the process of learning how to post. The good news is that I am good at keeping my upper body straight and under control and my balance was not as bad as I thought. But I was confused with my lower body and timing, thus when I first started posting I was a mess.
My instructor had me do the 2 point exercise (I think that is what it is called) and then had me post with Remmy walking. After that, I began a slow trot. Remmy would not be trotting for long. At first I was bouncing and not posting, and every time I would start to bounce, Remmy would go back to walking (which I liked because that was a good indication I was doing something wrong). It took a few tries, but I started to get what posting was actually about and improved my timing. A few times I was even doing it correctly for a couple of minutes, but would then lose it and go back to bouncing. As well I was not very good a steering while trotting. Thus Remmy cut corners like no other. And (no not done) I lost my balance and launched myself into his shoulders four times because I wasn't keeping my heels down. Oh and my feet were a mess, had a mind of their own and all..... But I did get better throughout the lesson, so I am fine with how my first lesson went. (Not sure if that is a good first lesson or not, but it was mine nonetheless).
My second lesson went much better. I had much more control over my legs and balance. Thus I trotted more accurately for a longer period of time (sorry I don't have a time period, but I was so concentrated on riding that I wasn't keeping track. All of my improvements were noted to me by my instructor and I could feel it riding). My balance was getting better, I only launched myself into Remmy shoulders once this time. And any time I felt myself going forward too much when posting I reminded myself to keep my heels down the next time. My steering improved, but not as much as I wanted. I just had so much to focus on, I tend to forget to concentrate one giving good direction to Remmy. I trotted most of time (not perfectly but with a vast improvement from my first lesson), and my goal for tomorrow (Saturday) is to continue to work on my balance, legs, and steering, but to focus on my feet so they will join the rest of my body and not have a mind of their own. lol
I am finding myself having a good time and loving every minute of it. I am looking forward to what is to come. I will probably update this thread from time to time with updates.
Thanks for reading ^.^