Last week Trainer told me she was going to put me on another horse. Today, that came true: I rode Mini.
(Scooby was kind of cute, though – he was whinnying at me when I went to go fetch Mini from the pasture. I had to tell him “sorry buddy, not today.” He followed us to the fenceline. He’s probably the most socially-oriented horse I’ve ever met.)
Before I got on, I knew approximately two things about Mini: 1) apparently she is fast? and 2) I really hate her boots. (There are like FIVE LITTLE TEENY FINICKY STRAPS per boot. That is just entirely too many straps for me. It’s winter. My hands were cold. Also, I am famously lazy.)
After finally managing to get the Finicky Boots right, we went down to the ring, where I was immediately informed that “you look like you’re a SWAT guy” – because I was wearing black boots, black breeches, black gloves, a black long sleeve shirt, and a black velvet helmet. And sunglasses.
I’m not a big fan of colour.
Upon getting on Mini, I learned a few more things.
- How do I hold double reins again? Oh, wait, I remember!
- “I feel very short right now.”
- She is, indeed, quite speedy.
I was a little worried because I have been (very accurately) described as a “battery pack” for horses. When I was a bitty kid I used to get put on the pokiest lesson ponies simply because I could make them go. So getting on a horse that is known for being fast is always a little tricky for me. (And yet? I still love Thoroughbreds.) After our warm-up walking and trotting while I got used to her, Trainer had me two-point at the trot! I am proud to say that my wall-sits last week helped. (Okay, it was only three wall-sits, and they were all on the same day, but hey, it still counts). I was able to two point without immediately falling over. Instead I fell over after thirty seconds.
I’m still counting that as an improvement.
Of course, then she had to ask me to post without stirrups.
Okay, so admittedly, this was on my goals list, and I probably needed to do it, but I really didn’t want to. I did it anyway. It was not a disaster but it was also not great. I did, however, do better when I was expecting. Luckily, we ended our trotting with sitting trot circles – which, as you may remember from last time, is kind of my specialty.
After a brief canter (Mini builds a lot) we got to jumping. Here is a diagram I drew in Paint of the relevant jumps:
We started by trotting the light blue jump in either direction. I’m getting a lot better at trot jumps! Mini was, true to form, very happy about the fact that we were now jumping. I had a lot of work on my hands keeping her quiet-ish. Then we graduated to a trot-in, canter-out of the outside line (light blue to light green) in five. Mini had no trouble whatsoever making it happen! I just had to keep her straight and wait.
Then we put together today’s course: the brick wall in the middle of the ring off the left lead, rollback to the blue, with the intention of adding the orange-to-red one-stride.
I had a lot of trouble getting the right distance to the brick wall. Remember, I grew up in hunterland – and though I’ve always been a jumper-style rider (compared to most hunter/eq riders), my eye never really developed for particularly tight turns. Normally I almost always go for the long spot but I think Mini made, and continued to make, the right decision here by adding. The first ride through with just two jumps was great so we went ahead and added the one-stride.
And somehow, it was perfect.
(I have no idea what I did. I mean, I did a lot of things, but the stars just aligned for that ride.)
Of course, I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, that was really perfect, maybe we should just quit.”
We didn’t quit. And the next rides were not so perfect! xD Witness: me inventing a cool new sport called “slip your reins in the air and jump with them dangling.” It’s super fun and super safe; highly recommend! 😉
In all honesty it was kind of funny; no one got hurt and we all got a bit of a laugh out of it. (Also, I was proud of myself for staying on. My muscles are getting stronger!)
The third ride-through was much better and more balanced, featuring such fun developments such as: Correct Leads! Releasing! and Not Falling Off! Still not as good as our un-videoed perfect round, but perfectly acceptable.
We quit on that with much praising from trainer. In all honesty, I don’t think I really ‘clicked’ with Mini, but she was certainly a learning experience – less worrying about the horse and much more worrying about me, which is definitely valuable, especially at this unfit stage. That said, we did get along – it’s just that I’ve only ever had one horse in my entire life that I simply could not ride, and I did okay enough on him until he gave me a concussion and I promptly decided I wanted nothing to do with him, so it’s hard for me to judge whether or not I match up well with a horse.
After our long walk and a good grooming (and Kelsey pulling off my tall boots with much commentary from the peanut gallery) we went out to dinner together, and then it was off to run my errands.
I had a lovely chat with the deli guy at Publix and went to the post office to send a package I’d been procrastinating about. Then I was welcomed home by my dog crawling directly into my arms and refusing to move.
So all in all, I would definitely consider the day a success!
Things improved from last time:
- Two point was a lot better!
- Straightness – although some of this was just because of the horse?
- Recovering from mistakes much better
Things to work on for next time:
- Not leaning to one side, or into the turns. Don’t get thrown off balance.
- Two point – yes, it was better, but I still have plenty of work to do!
- Posting without stirrups! I have no idea how to work on this at home – if I belonged to a gym, I would use a hip abductor machine, but I don’t. Anyone have any ideas?
- Wait for the jump. It’s okay to not take the huge distance.