Back in the Saddle: Phantomrose's Journal
My journey is restarting again, after being out of the saddle for about six years. I started taking riding lessons once again, in the summer of 2015... and what a journey is has been so far.
I started off my lessons at first by going back to the basics of riding. I was happy to know that I still had some of the things that I learned still in my memory, and was looking forward to the upcoming lessons. My first ride at the barn was an Appaloosa gelding named Gunnar. He was a nice horse, a bit lazy, but good for me to start off with. I alternated between him, and a paint gelding named Noony at first. Since I am new to the Eventing world (my old barn way back when was more trained in Hunters), I had to learn a bit differently, and started with Dressage as the fundamentals in my training. I quickly learned to love the Dressage lessons the most, as they taught me how to be soft, and supple with my lesson horse. I love jumping as well, although to this day, jumping still makes me a bit nervous.
Eventually, I went into my very first show in November. It was a Fall Fun Show, in which I did a Hunter Under Saddle Class, an 18" Hunter Course, a Trail Riding Course, and a Ride-A-Buck Bareback Course. I had a lot of fun at the show, and got second with Noony in my Under Saddle Class, and the Hunter Jumper class. I got fifth in the trail class, and ended up winning about seven bucks in the Ride-A-Buck, which was pretty neat.
During the course of my riding, my lessons would vary. Sometimes, it was hard to schedule a lesson due to my work schedule, or a conflicting schedule with my trainer, but eventually, we got a system flowing. The thing that I love about my barn is that in addition to lessons, the Barn Owner also offers a practice ride option, in which approved students can schedule a 45 minute ride alone with one of the lesson horses to work on things learned in previous lessons, and to gain additional time in the saddle. I have learned to love the practice rides, and incorporate them into my riding schedule in addition with the lesson that I already take.
By April, I was riding (and still am riding) and working with a chestnut mare, called Snickers. Now, Snickers is a neat little mare. I love that she offers me a few challenges, and helps me to improve to become a better rider. She can be a forward horse, and responsive to aids and cues. Her walk can be forward moving and powerful, and her trot is simply light and fluffy. Snickers is in her twenties, and used in the lesson program, although she was (and is) primarily the BO's daughter's horse. It is awesome in that I can talk to her daughter on the aids and cues she used on Snicks to work better with her.
Come June, I was starting to train for my first CT show. I had to learn Dressage Intro Test A, and try to gain confidence when jumping. At first, I had some doubt that I would be ready in time for the show about the jumping aspect, and talked with my trainer about it. She helped me, and pushed me in the right ways in my jumping, and I soon learned to jump confidently with Snickers. You see, when I first started jumping Snickers, I was a bit nervous and tense, because of her being forward moving. I had that unconscious fear that she would run off with me after the jump, even though she was always lovely with me, and took care of me. I had to learn to trust her, and just let go to let her do her job when she jumped... and she did that well. Now, I feel like that we work better together than we did in the beginning, and are still learning to work together.
July 16th was my first CT show... and I did rather well. I was so proud of Snickers, and proud that all the lessons and practice rides with Snickers had payed off. I ended up placing Second, which I was pretty surprised, humbled, and elated by. That day, I think I gave Snickers numerous amounts of pats, and love for being my partner for that show. I have another show coming up August 28th, and hope she will be my partner for that show as well.
And now on to the most recent ride. So, I rode Snicks today once again. It was my first lesson in lateral flexion and it went kind of ok. It wasn't bad, but I felt like it could've gone better. My mind does this thing, when learning something new in riding, where it tends to overthink things. When I was learning about lateral flexion, my mind was going into overthink and concentration mode. I think I confused poor Snicks a bit when learning as well. I mean, she would bend correctly, but then would not move off my leg when I asked her to. Sometimes, she would actually break into a trot instead, and I think that was due to the combination of me giving confusing aids, and me overthinking the whole thing. When my trainer told me not to think about the flexion, and to just see if she would go off the rail, I would get a good result... and I think she said that she saw flexion when I did it that way instead? It's hard to explain in words. I wish I could've gotten film or pictures that way I can review my ride. I love reviewing my lesson rides..
So, next Sunday instead of a lesson, I have a practice ride with Snickers. I already know what I am going to work on for that practice ride, and going to watch videos on flexion, and read articles about it, that way I can get a better idea of it. I hope that I will improve with the flexion, and that I don't confuse Snickers again. I want to get that "ah ha!" moment. I love it when I get those "ah ha!" moments in riding.