Thursday, March 10, 2011

Humbling experience

I went out today and took a riding class with the woman who is going to be teaching my daughter riding lessons on her ponies. I figured I should check her out and see who's going to be teaching my daughter. I really like her, but she doesn't teach beginner adults and the only beginner mounts she has are little ponies for all the kids she teaches. She has two of her own horses, one who's really big and only been ridden for less than a year and one that she teaches some intermediate/advanced teens on. I know technically I am supposed to be an intermediate rider but in the new environment with a young, terribly spooky Arabian I felt like a beginner all over again. I told her that and told her to just treat me like a beginner (although she said if I were a beginner I wouldn't be riding her horse Rolls).

It didn't help that it was really windy and she said that it was right on the verge of it being too windy for her to give me a lesson because she didn't want her horse to freak out with me on him (um ... me neither). It seemed like all my bad habits came back as soon as I got up on her horse so it was very humbling. We mostly walked and talked about dressage leg position vs. Western and she talked about how leg position helps balance. Pretty much I just asked her lots of questions about a dressage seat and collection. I'm glad we were walking because I heard a big gust of wind come up and the next second something outside went "thunk!" and Rolls spooked and did that JUMP! And start to bolt and I instinctively leaned back (too far she said) and sat down in the saddle and pulled back and said, "Whoooooa," long and low and Rolls stopped. The instructor came rushing over and said, "You stopped him! Good job! Barely three steps and you stopped him! That's what I want to see!" So, that was good.

She did years of eventing and road in the Grand Prix so I asked to see her ride. She's two years older than me, but she hopped right into the saddle without a mounting block. And I was relieved to see that Rolls did some dancing and spooking with her and even did a little buck when she asked him to canter, so it wasn't all me being an inexperienced rider. But it's fun to watch someone who looks as natural on the back of horse as when they're walking around. Very inspiring! She seems to really like teaching young children and it sounds like her oldest student is 16 years old so I feel confident now that she's probably going to be a good instructor for my daughter. We'll see tomorrow at my daughter's first lesson on her ponies (who are apparently perfect for beginners)!

As for me, I think that mechanical bull experience was good for me because I wasn't quite as scared riding Rolls because I remembered that falling off is not that awful. That was one of my main motivations for riding the mechanical bull because I haven't fallen off a horse since I was about fifteen (knock on wood) and it has been built up in my head as being terrifying. It brought it back into perspective getting bucked off the mechanical bull. Sure, it wasn't cantering or galloping, but it did remind me that you *can* fall off and live through it without being killed or maimed. And I have fallen off cantering horses. And jumping horses. It just sounds a lot scarier in your 40's than in your teens. But, I had a rheumatologist appointment yesterday and I asked my doctor if it was safe for me to ride a mechanical bull and she said it was just as safe for me as anyone else. I don't "break any easier than anyone else" she said. Then she asked what everyone else does, "How'd you do?!" But it's good to hear from my actual doctor that I am not any more frail than anyone else - at least as far as being breakable. She did emphasize that she forbids me to do anything that messes around with my immune system like taking immune boosters and stuff like that.

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