Lesson Report 2/4 – Kelsey on Audio

I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT! Today, Audio and I jumped my first course in over a year. And it may not have been the prettiest or well executed course, but you know what? I got out there and fucking did it. And I am proud of myself for not going off course, not falling off, and actually remembering to breathe. It felt so incredible to ride the course and be back in my element. I even got to jump the roll top and the brick wall. I jumped every damn fence inside the arena. After weeks of watching girls younger than me get around 3’6″ courses, I happily putzed around my little 2’3″ eight jumps with the most focus and concentration I’ve exhibited in literally months.

This weekend has the barn rolling up to the local show grounds for an unrated schooling show, so this is show prep week. Megan told me when I entered the arena today that today was going to run similar to a show. Warm up was basic and limited and mostly on my own, which in its own way is highly educational. It teaches you to prioritize and challenges you to think about your horse’s muscles as well as preparation for the show ring. Sure, it would be nice to school that scary jump ten times, but before you even get there, you need a horse to be warm and ready for any kind of hard work like that. So I love it when a trainer trusts me enough to warm my own horse up. Megan did test us a bit when I cantered. My working out has at the very least paid off so I have endurance now! I made it through two laps of canter, a lead change, more canter, and even maintained a great posting trot afterwards.

Our warmup jump was also done on my own. I feel like I shed some training wheels today! But rest assured, there are still many more sets. I am by no means ready to just take myself to a horse show. I’m far too mental for that business. We trotted a vertical three times. The first time was okay. The second time, I jumped ahead. And the third one was great. So then we moved on to a canter approach to the warm up jump. Megan said to count out strides, but I kind of forgot to… I’m only human!

Our course was full of turns. It was so fun. Hanger jump to single in the center of the arena, outside line four strides, rollback to the inside single gate, outside bending line, and rollback to the inside single. Audio, of course, did everything perfectly. It’s so nice to be on such a well schooled horse because it makes it very clear when I make mistakes without getting too hurt. Audio has been there and done that. So a little course like this is kid stuff to him. It’s very comforting to have a confident partner. Our first run through this course was a little manic. I kept rushing everything, and before the bending line, I completely spaced out and forgot where I was going and had an awful approach to the first of the bending line. We were able to recover, but my mind was rather frazzled and we ended up trotting the final jump. But our second round through the course was much smoother. Audio took care of me, as always. I’ve found that I ride better when I have as few thoughts as possible. It means I interfere less with the horse.

Megan and I had an interesting conversation about that today, actually. I asked about my equitation on the first round of the course. Now, you should know some things about me. I’m not even 5’5″, I have a long torso and short arms and legs, my posture is pretty atrocious, and I have a bad habit of looking downward in all that I do. How does that sound for equitation? Let’s just say that I may be blessed with the knowledge of the sport but most certainly not the natural ability. This means that I will always struggle to equitate well. Megan did, however, inform me that I am extremely capable of staying out of the horse’s way. I am very good at knowing what’s about to happen. I may not see my distance five strides away, but even if the horse does not take off at my distance I can still follow the motion. I don’t catch horses in the mouth. It is a skill, according to Megan, that few people possess. Needless to say, it’s flattering to hear that I’m good at something. It also opens my eyes. That’s why I ride better when I don’t think as much: I’m listening to the horse instead of interfering. That’s my competitive edge. (I should totally be a catch rider, just as soon as I fit in my show clothes again.)

In the mean time, I can’t afford to lease Audio anymore because $8.15 an hour really isn’t as much as I thought. So I’m down to one ride a week, which means a lot more butt kicking at the gym. Any exercise suggestions are welcome. I’m trying so hard to diet to get better results, but it’s tough. Hopefully I can kick it into gear within the next couple weeks and see some results. Seriously. My fat breeches have holes in the thighs and I’m too broke to afford new or even new-to-me breeches. I have a lot of great breeches that fit me when I’m at a healthy weight. They’re calling to me.

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