Saturday, September 24, 2011

My first lesson with Toad!

Yesterday I showed up at the stable to watch Toad's training and was wearing my breeches and boots in hopes they would let me ride her after training.  I was dubious though because the weather was in the low 80's and extremely humid and here in the Pacific NW the people are not acclimated to such high humidity and the horses are even less acclimated, so I knew we couldn't work her very hard.

But when I got there Trainer K. said that Trainer V. was having a personal issue she had to take care of so wouldn't be able to come to do training.  I asked what that meant and Trainer K. said, "I guess that means we're going to ride her."  Yay!  I was surprised because Trainer K. had originally said she wouldn't ride Toad, only do ground work training because she had such a reputation of being crazy.  But that reputation was not unfounded, her previous owner had been thrown off her the first time she tried to get on her in an English saddle and she'd bolted on her a bunch of times.   And she would dance and kick in the cross ties and throw her head and literally drag her previous owner down the aisle when she was trying to lead her.  I have a new theory though - I'm wondering if she was having her chiropractic issues on and off then too. I wonder if she was having pain in her face like she was before the vet came out a few weeks ago.  It must have come and go because she was so mellow when I started working with her before her neck seized up.  Maybe it was that and she didn't have firm, consistent handling to help her feel safe.  All I know is she is uber-sensitive, but with a lot of firm but gentle handling and *a lot* of snuggles and love she is very calm and happy.  She loves it when I kiss her on the nose and give her big hugs on her neck.  She'll even lift her leg to beg for more hugs!

So thanks to Trainer V. being so adventurous she had ridden Toad enough that Trainer K. was willing to work under saddle with her.  I was still nervous about taking a short lesson with her though because it's one thing for two Grand Prix level riders to ride her, but I'm still at Training Level at best (The dressage levels are Intro, Training, Level 1 through 4 - so that shows how much farther down the scale of riding ability I am from my trainers.   And just to clarify, few people out there riding horses or taking riding lessons ever actually get to Level 4 in dressage). This is an example of Level 4.

But my short little lesson went really well.  I wore an eventing vest to help with my confidence, but honestly it's only prudent.  I'm in my forties, I've had a broken neck so all those muscles are messed up enough that they take a long time to heal when hurt and I have severe rheumatoid arthritis and whenever I get hurt it causes a huge, painful flare-up.  And since I couldn't ride for six weeks when I got thrown off a horse last April, it is only reasonable to wear an eventing vest when riding a new horse that everyone said, "Are you nuts? Why are you buying that horse?" when I bought her (well, everyone except Trainer V. who saw what I saw in her).

I didn't do very well when I first got on because as with the last three times I rode her I was super nervous.  But after a bit of instruction (especially on relaxing and breathing) we did pretty well together.  Trainer K. said she thinks we will make a good team.

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