Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good-bye to the stirrups

Things have been a bit strange at the stable where I keep my horse because one of the owner's dogs is dying. She'll probably be put to sleep tomorrow. So the owner/my instructor has been very distracted. I've been a bit sad about it, but it hasn't really affected me until today. My instructor's boyfriend was going on an errand and my instructor was teaching a lesson so I said I'd check on their dog.

The dog was lying on the floor breathing heavily and not opening her eyes and it definitely looked like she was dying. It reminded me of how painful it was for all of us when our dog Mr Boone died. The last few days while he was dying and just lying on his bed not eating and eventually not even drinking water were really hard and painful for us. I wish I could something for my instructor and her boyfriend but this is one of those times when there is nothing that can be done to make it better.

The sad thing is, is that just a couple weeks ago my friend, Tami's horse died too. And another friend told me a couple days ago that her husband moved out after a horrible fight. It just seems like there's been a lot of sad things happening.

Despite that I was feeling sad and distracted though I had a good riding lesson today. My mom wanted to just go for a practice ride but I thought she should take a lesson but as it turned out she went out to warm-up and ended up riding for almost an hour and my instructor never came out. So, it worked out really well for her.

My lesson started out ok although I was a little nervous because the new guy who started taking lessons this week was watching and whenever anyone new to the stable watches my lessons I'm always afraid I'm going to fall off and scare them away from taking lessons. I know, it's a weird hang-up.

Girlfriend and I did fairly well. The big deal was after we did some trot work and canter work, even though it was about 80 degrees out and I was feeling tired (I'm a heat wimp) my instructor asked if I wanted to call it a day or let her torture me for 6 more minutes. I asked what she had in mind and she said she wasn't going to tell me unless I agreed to try it. Out of curiosity I said I would try it even though better judgment said I was too tired. So, she said, "Well, cross your stirrups over the saddle because we're going to trot without stirrups."

This is actually not that big of a deal and I've done it on her lesson horses. But I figured I would never do it on Girlfriend. For one thing she's small and squat and because of her build her trot is uncomfortably bouncy. Her old owner who only rode Western used to post when Girl trotted even though posting is an English thing, but she said it hurt her butt too much not to post. It is very hard to "sit the trot" on Girl because even not posting one is bouncing a lot. And besides that she has a super bouncy trot, she also has a tendency to bolt and swerve and do all sorts of things that make it hard for me to actually stay on her back unless I'm using the stirrups to help me balance. Which apparently my instructor wants me to stop using the stirrups to help me balance because she took them away.

At first it was close to catastrophic. Ok, it wasn't but it was all discombobulated. I was boucing all over the place and sliding from side to side and would grab onto her with my legs without thinking when I'd start to lose my balance and slide off, which would make her bolt, so I'd pull her back and then lose my balance and accidentally grip with my legs and she'd bolt and I'd pull her back until she had her ears pinned back and my instructor told me to walk her so she wouldn't buck me off.

She told me to bring my knees way up and my feet forward so they were over the girth and that cause me to lean way back on my butt and when I did that it felt like the saddle suddenly went from a wisp of thin leather to a large, suede bucket that my butt fell right into and it felt like I was so deeply entrenched in that bucket that I wasn't going to slide off even though Girl was bouncing and trying to bolt. But then soon after I felt that mojo of feeling like I'd just fallen into a sturdy bucket of a saddle, Girl calmed down and her trot became much smoother and she stopped bolting. It was one of those really cool epiphany moments where I suddenly understood how the Native American Indians could balance on a galloping horse bareback. It was very cool!

It was also really hard work and after that six minutes (which was actually longer) my inner thighs were burning from holding my legs up in front of me and out enough away from Girl's side so as not to upset her and my core muscles were burning from holding myself up and keeping my balance.

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