Getting Back on the Horse (Literally)

I just finished the second pass on the editing project I’ve been working on, and I decided to write a quick blog post before I started going through my double-check list on the manuscript. Not a blog post about editing or the manuscript itself, but a post about what I did after work yesterday.

I went for my second horseback riding lesson.

If you read my admittedly very long post about my first lesson, you know I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The whole ride back from the stable, all I could talk about was how I wanted to go back again. Well, last night’s lesson didn’t go quite as well. At least, not from my perspective. And the problem was all me.

Evan greeted us as we walked up to the barn at High Caliber Stables, and Chad and I watched for a few minutes while someone re-shoed Spirit, the horse Chad rode last time. As they finished up, we slipped past so we could get helmets out of the storage cabinet. On the way, we passed the lesson board and saw that, although Spirit was listed next to Chad’s name, the horse I rode last time, Oscar, wasn’t written next to mine. Instead, I was riding Chuck.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed by that. I loved Oscar! He is such a great horse. I honestly didn’t need to know anything, because he did all the work. But they had a full day of lessons listed on the board, and Oscar was scheduled for one right after mine, so I could understand needing to put me on a different horse.

And it was kinda fitting, me riding a horse named Chuck, considering I went home after the lesson and watched Chuck while eating dinner. (Yes, Chuck on a Tuesday. We time-shift. No cable or over-the-air signal for us. All online. So we have to wait a day or two after a show airs to watch it — or, in some cases, wait until the DVD comes out. Yes, Big Bang Theory, I’m looking at you.)

Once Spirit was set up with his nice new footwear, we mounted and started our lesson. Well, Chad mounted. I had to ask for a refresher on that. Then I screwed up on how to hold the reins, and Mary had to actually put my hands on the reins the right way to show me. Perfectionist that I am, I was unhappy with myself for forgetting something that basic.

I won’t bore you with a litany of everything I forgot. Suffice it to say, if they taught it to me during my first lesson, I forgot it yesterday. Well, except for keeping my heels down. I remembered that part. I just couldn’t manage to do it all the time. Namely when posting.

I didn’t know we were going to work on posting yesterday, or I wouldn’t have gone for a walk at lunch. Posting is kind of like trying to stand up on your heels and then sit back down again — while your chair is moving. Using only your thighs. Without moving your lower legs. If it sounds hard, it is. More than that, it’s hard work. I could manage maybe a quarter of the practice ring before my legs were just too tired to lift me any more. By the time we finished the lesson, the best way to describe my legs was “wobbly”.

But I apparently did pretty good at posting, at least for a beginner, because Mary and Evan complimented me as I was doing it. Then again, maybe they were just trying to encourage me.  😉

We also learned passing yesterday, thanks to me getting Chuck too close to Spirit. For a horse named Spirit, he’s not too keen on walking fast, and at one point Chuck and I started to overtake him and Chad. I was trusting Chuck to let me know when he wasn’t comfortable with how close we were to Spirit — remember, I know nothing about horses — and that was apparently the wrong thing to do. Nothing bad happened; these are school horses, after all, and they’re very easygoing. But Mary and Evan did warn me that I was too close and talked me through passing Chad and Spirit. I might have forgotten almost everything I learned in my first lesson, and I’ll probably need a refresher on posting next time, but one thing I will never forget: always keep at least one horse-length between you and another rider because a horse can kick a distance of eight feet. Also, never pass so you’re between the other horse and the rail. (In our training ring, the “rail” is actually a wall. But it’s still called a rail.)

By the time the lesson was done, my legs were so wobbly from posting that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to dismount (and, yes, I needed a reminder about how to do that, too), but I made it. Didn’t even yelp as loudly as I did last time. And, honestly, the time really flew by. I didn’t realize it had been a half hour until Evan told me to dismount. It felt like we’d just started. Well, except for the wobbly legs.

Before we left, I promised Chuck, “Don’t worry. I’ll get this right eventually.”

And although I spent the whole ride home this time berating myself for every mistake I made, everything I’d forgotten from the first lesson or done wrong during this one, I know that I will eventually get this right. I just have to keep trying.

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One Response to Getting Back on the Horse (Literally)

  1. Ralph Thompson says:

    great post thanks