I’m going to throw up.

I’ve been dawdling this morning. Delaying the inevitable departure for my lesson. There’s a substitute instructor and I’m not sure how I feel about her. Wait. Yes, I do…I’m going to throw up.

Deep breath. You can do this! Oh, God.

A glance into the indoor confirms my suspicions. It is HER! (gulp)

EN AL mezzI’ve watched this instructor and she pushes her students. Enika’s loud and comes off as slightly abrasive. If she asks you to do something, she wants you to do it. NOW! (Okay, so does my instructor but she’s, I don’t know…nicer.) The problem is that she knows her stuff. I mean really knows her stuff. She studied at Meredith Manor and rode with the Wonderful World of Horses performing airs above the ground with the Royal Lippizan Stallions. Our interaction has been pretty much limited to my practice rides. On those nights she’s usually teaching while I “practice”. I’ve watched her and then been thankful that she’s not my instructor as yet another student eats dirt.

That changes today.

I get Enika’s attention and announce that I’m her 10 o’clock lesson.
“Great! I’ve been waiting to get my hands on you!” Oh, God. “I’ve wanted to help you and it’s been so hard not to. I’ve seen improvements in your riding too.” Really?

I’m asked to get the horse that’s hardest for me to pull together. Okay, that would be Buttons. She’s stiff and being her marish self fights me for about 20 minutes before deciding it’s easier to come down into my hands.

Let the torture session begin.

I really need to get her forward. Without the forward I can’t get rhythm and contact. Then we worked on straightness and suppling. All horses are naturally crooked and to ride in balance we need to straighten them. Today Buttons was stiff on the left. Especially the left hind. I utilized the whole ring to work on suppling her by counter flexing her to the right. Of course this made her look at the scary stall cleaner and spook. Again. And again. Finally the door was closed. As part of this exercise I had to tell her where I was feeling resistance and make adjustments. One moment it was the front right shoulder, then the hind. Buttons tried some evasive maneuvers like cantering but we rode through it. Eventually, Buttons was on the bit. Then I had to keep her from falling behind it.

Not bad so far.

Enika said I had the trot nailed so it was time to canter. (gulp)

The commands are flying out of Enika’s mouth faster then I can process them. I asked for a canter around the ring. Not what I usually do. I usually canter on a 20 meter torture circle. The canter was flat. She was hollowed backed. That’s okay though. I’m warming up. Next attempt kinda the same but worse. Clinging leg. I have to slap her with my leg and not cling! (I know. I know. Breathing legs.) Flying down the long side. Wait. Is this a canter? Feels like a gallop. Not that I’ve ever galloped. Have I?

Now to apply the same stuff I did at trot to the canter. I need to flex her head to the right. Give with the inside left rein and make her stand up on the left shoulder to straighten her. Forward! Almost had it.

I feel pretty good. I overcame a number of things. My fear of Enika and cantering out of control. If my instructor goes to Florida this winter maybe I’ll ride with Enika.

Oh, God! I am a glutton for punishment.

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