So as I had mentioned last week sometime, I had my first lesson after 15 years scheduled for this past Friday...It couldn't have gone any better!
My new trainer is Holly, and she clicked immediately with myself and my husband (he came along to check it all out--he's been very excited, too!). Her facility, first of all, is stunningly beautiful, with 20+ miles of trails, endurance and easier stuff, so her boarders have access to whatever they need...She has two large round pens, one completely enclosed/walled in, and one just with regular pipe fencing. She also has a GIANT jumping arena, as well as a regulation(?right word?)sized, proper Dressage course. She has 26 stalls in her barn, each with an outdoor run, and everything is IMMACULATE and BEAUTIFUL.
So Holly had me riding her own Paint horse, an AMAZING ex-Western Pleasure champ, who is ALSO trained in English, and understands both Western and English aids...(as well as being a babysitter-horse for folks like me who haven't ridden in SO many years--she is the horse Holly can put anyone on and safely assess their skills before moving them to another level of horse) Fancy is a BEAUTIFUL mare--I will try to post pics below!
So, I was there for THREE HOURS!
The first hour, Holly gave us the facility tour, and we all three talked like crazy!
Then, we brought Fancy out, I groomed her FOREVER...it felt sooo good to have a horse to GROOM AGAIN! Then she helped me tack her up, went out and I got up on her and we went up to the upper round pen to "check out my skills"...Sadly, my skills were basically NUTHIN'! My legs were like wet, useless noodles after about 15 minutes! And that wasn't even from DOING much of anything--basically from just being in the SADDLE! Arghh...(Holly reassured me this was totally normal and to be expected and gave me lots of exercises to build core, lengthen calf muscles, (help to keep those heels down) and inner thigh squeezez...I will soon add these--the minute I can again walk w/o stabbing PAIN everywhere-- to my daily 4 mile power walk for cardio-fitness which H and I have been doing forever...
I did get to walk, trot, trot w/o stirrups for a bit in order for Holly and myself to see if I had ANY core strength or balance whatsoever...I do surprisingly have SOME...(I use the word "some" loosely, ha!) Somehow I have managed to retain the feel of how to properly SIT on a horse at least and feel somewhat centered. I was able to pick up the correct diagonal each time to post the trot, but had only enough strength in me to go around about three times...SAD, folks!
I AM happy to say that she offered some very kind compliments to me and my riding, and they are as follows:
1) I have very quiet hands, and even the few times posting when my balance would wane, I in no manner even came close to jerking her mouth, or doing anything except maintaining contact...
2) I have naturally good position. She says I am not too far forward, nor too far back and have the correct posture and basic shoulder/hip/heel line down to start, so that really helps...And finally,
3) I have good "horse sense" and clearly know how to be SAFE around a horses...I don't speak loudly, don't do anything hastily, and understand the need to "get" everything I am doing before I DO IT. And, I didn't hesitate to ask questions before ACTING. Lucky for me, Holly LOVES to teach, and I learned more that day from just her telling us informative stories of all kinds.
Plus, as I mentioned before, she teaches no more than 6 lessons MAX per week, and as she explains, she simply does it because she LIKES to TEACH and WATCH people LEARN and feel GOOD about it! Talk about the perfect trainer for me.
**Neat little side note: The place I want to start volunteering about 3h/week working with disabled kids and military veterans on horseback is the SAME place that SHE, too, coincidentally, has been volunteering with for MANY years! She knows everyone and says she will put in a positive word for me, having now met and worked with me. YEAY!
Okay so after my hour or so of riding, we then went back to the barn, untacked Fancy, I groomed her again, and she went back to her stall after a bunch of treats.
What a DAY! It was so great, and I am going back not this Fri but the next (@ first, I am only going to ride 2-3x/month, and build from there...)
I am SO SORE!! But it could not be MORE worth it. I will ride Fancy one more time, just to get my legs a bit more ready, and the third lesson will be on the horse I wlll be staying with for some time.
I can hardly wait...My husband is going to start Western lessons, and I will ride hunter jumper for now, until I decide BETTER what I want to do, so he and I may be able to ride together in lessons, at least in the beginning, even though she will be teaching each of us different styles. I suppose that will work out since we are both newbies again, and the first few months will just be basics for each of us!
Thanks a ton for "hanging in" for the long story! I hope it was positive and brought someone looking to restart lessons some HOPE!
Me just after mounting Fancy and Holly working to bring my leathers up high enough for my puny short legs (I am 5' even!), so we had to wrap them for that lesson! And then Fancy in action, about to pick up a slow, western pleasure-y feeling, floaty trot. What a dream!