Decades ago, as a high school senior, I had an accident after my barn-sour TWH gelding bolted with me on the first day of spring. I didn't fall, but he ran me into a barn overhang that ended up skinning my back from shoulder blades to waist. My parents sold my horse while I was recuperating, and I quit riding til I was in my thirties. Since then, I've owned a couple of TWHs, but have given up on the breed because they're too forward for me.
Truth told, I've never gotten over that bolt. To this day, I don't like to canter and will avoid it, if at all possible.
Fast forward: I'm in my late forties now. Three months ago, I bought my QH mare, Sooz. She's an excellent walk-trot horse, 4H grad, lesson horse extraordinaire, which is why I purchased her. She's trust-worthy, for the most part.
Several weeks ago -- much to my dismay -- my instructor began making me work on cantering. Honestly, I didn't feel ready, emotionally; but she assured me that my seat was good enough to give it a go. So we did.
First time was short and sweet. I didn't like it, but I did it. Second time, we spent about 5 minutes on dedicated cantering. Again, I didn't like it, but sat it better. At the end of that lesson, I had a slight headache. Attributed it to stress and the fact that I still didn't have a great seat.
Today, we cantered for 10 minutes at the end of the lesson. Sooz didn't want to do it, and neither did I. She fought me for much of it, alternating between a really fast trot and a canter. But I finally made her canter for two full laps around the arena, both ways. That trot-canter thing was NOT smooth, nor was it comfortable. Add to it the fact that I was extra stressed because I changed over to split reins today from laced English reins and ...
... I ended up with the Mother Of All Headaches. Felt like a steel rod had been driven straight through my temples, behind my eyes. Felt like a little imp was pounding on that steel rod with every pulse of my heart. I'm thinking migraine or tension headache. Took about 20 minutes for it to subside so I could drive home.
Questions for you:
(1) Have you ever had a headache after cantering?
(2) Does this sound like it's stress-related? Or is it related to getting martini-blended ("shaken-not-stirred") during the trot/canter? Or both?
(3) Would I be a weenie to insist on putting off the canter til I feel more comfortable with my horse? And with my new saddle? And with the split reins? (I'm thinking there's just been too much new stuff lately, which adds to the stress of having to canter.)
Thanks for your input. (Now I'm going to take a couple of Advil and lay down for the rest of the afternoon...)