Lesson Report 9/21/15: Kelsey on Blackjack

FINALLY, right? Sorry for the delay, guys. I know I’ve said this before, but I forgot how expensive college is. Living at home was nice because my parents bought my groceries and paid my bills. Here, I am on my own. So, as much as I would love for lessons to be at the top of my priority list, unfortunately I also need to feed my dog and my guinea pigs. And my kidneys appreciate something more than ramen for myself! Hah.

So my trainer Courtney and I sat down and discussed how we were going to approach rehabilitating the ankle and getting me back into some sort of competitive shape. Now, physically, I am not where I want to be. I’ve gained some weight this year, and being laid up for several months didn’t help me. I should have eaten better, I should have exercised more, all that drabble. The point is that I want to change that. Plus I have a lot of muscle to rebuild in my right leg. Courtney is a trainer who works a lot with biomechanics, not to mention she’s had a few injuries of her own to overcome. It made me feel a lot better to know that I’m in the hands of the right trainer to bring along my recovery in a safe way. If I was on my own, I know I would push myself well past the limits.

My lesson was at 9:00am. Usually, I am not a morning person. This day was no exception. My 6:20 alarm felt cruel, even if it was adorable. But Remy needed a walk and I needed breakfast before I got to the barn, so up I got. My hound is so needy sometimes. Readers, I cannot even begin to describe how excited I was putting on my breeches and boots. I felt like I was reaching out to a part of me that had been left behind in the turmoil of this past year––turmoil I would much rather not get into. Megan had been so great at helping me find that again. And I’m glad that Courtney is helping me there too.

I got to the barn at 8:15 to give Blackjack a stellar grooming session after the ponies had all eaten. He’s a Standardbred cross who is a little bleached out right now since he lives outside. Blackjack is not a cuddler, but I was still thrilled to even be handling a horse at all. Courtney and I caught up and chatted while I groomed. A trainer I worked for previously told me that simply grooming a horse can melt away any stress in your life, as long as you’re grooming right. She’s right. I could feel my anxiety lifting so quickly. (Not to mention, Blackjack looked pretty shiny when I was done.)

Thank all the powers that be that I spoiled myself with the Herm Sprenger flexible irons before I broke my ankle. When I mounted up at 9:00, I felt nothing but stiffness in my right ankle. Courtney asked me to drop my irons, and never have I been so excited to ride without stirrups. She had me start working on a twenty-meter circle. This is a foreign concept to my hunter-jumper mind, so my visuals were poop piles to be the points I hit on my circle. (You know you’re a horseback rider when…) We worked a lot on connection. I’ve never really been properly schooled in connection, nor had a trainer work me so hard on it. So while it may have appeared to be a boring lesson, I learned a lot. I had some really good moments where Blackjack flexed his back muscles and came onto the bit for me. I’m excited to work more on it and continue to rebuild my muscle. I think what finally made the concept of connection so clear to me is that Blackjack wears a leather bit. When I was training guide dogs, we worked them on leather leashes. Working guide dogs wear leather harnesses. The leather is a good conductor of motion, so I felt every move that Blackjack made with his head, his neck, even his tongue! I’m hoping that Blackjack makes the connection clear enough for me so that I can learn to feel connection on other horses too.

Looks like my 9:00 spot is going to be a consistent thing, which is totally fine with me. I like the cooler temperatures. It tends to stay pretty hot year round in south Georgia, so I won’t be needing a coat for a while. I can’t wait to post more about the rehabilitation, and I hope it’s not too boring to read about!IMG_9775 IMG_9777 IMG_9778

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6 thoughts on “Lesson Report 9/21/15: Kelsey on Blackjack

  1. Sometimes it’s the focus on the small details that really help your riding come together. Glad you’re getting back in the saddle!

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    • Me too! Yes, focusing on the details really makes all the difference. My high school IEA coach used to put me on the lunge line and we always saw HUGE improvements. So I’m hoping Courtney and I will see some progress in that direction.

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  2. Wow you’ve had a rocky journey. I tore a rotator cuff in my shoulder and there was talk of me giving up riding, but I wouldn’t listen to such nonsense. Kudos to you for jumping back in the saddle! Keep it up! I know you’ll get better with every ride. 🙂

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    • Thank you for your encouragement! We injured folks gotta keep working and prove it to everyone that we are just as capable as they are!

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