A small, six letter word, (worth 8 points), that can create anxiety and fear in many adult riders. Let’s face reality. We’re no longer young and bouncing back after a fall? Bounce? I think it’s more like splat and “oh, my aching ____” (fill in the blank with appropriate body part). Then there’s the “What If…” game. Have you ever played it? Come on. I know you have. What if…I fall…get hurt…lose control? You get the picture.

Well, I’m determined to wrestle this particular demon into submission! I will surrender control, without losing control. Sorta.

My plan of attack? No more negative thoughts, trust myself and lots of cantering. Lots. I need mileage. Cantering mileage. Right now my trotting skills are waaaaay up here and my cantering skills are waaaaay down here. I need them to meet up riiiiight about here. In the middle. See that? Good. Talk about a split personality, huh?

Let me introduce my secret weapon, Thunder.

This was all my trainer’s idea so I can’t take any credit. Thunder’s teen owner was riding the school master so it was a win-win situation. We both had lessons and the horses were exercised. I was thrilled! The last time I rode Thunder was nearly three years ago when he was still in the school program. He’s an atypical Thoroughbred therefore, a bit of a poke. You don’t get anything unless you really want it. Don’t get me wrong. If he isn’t worked he’ll kick up his heels like any other horse. He’s a special horse though. Why? Because he’s a confidence builder and I feel a bit like the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz in search of courage.

I mounted armed with my whip. We started out with walk and trot. I asked for forward. Then begged for forward. Even applied the whip to back up my leg aid. At one point I think my legs were wrapped around his shoulders in my attempt to kick him into a BIGGER more FORWARD trot. Nada. Same trot. I’m dying here, huff, puff.

I exchange my whip for his owner’s longer whip. Shoulda listened to her. Off we go. A little less begging and pleading. Huff, puff. My trainer calls me over and because I’m, cough, older she puts spurs on my feet. Spurs? He wasn’t even phased. Now, he listened to me though. Before long I had him trotting along in a nice, long frame. Totally relaxed and rounding over his back. Nice. He’s not easy either.

Now canter! He has such nice, long, smooth strides. We cantered the full arena weaving through and around traffic. Leg yielding him off the rail as needed. One big loop to avoid another horse. A slow canter around a tight corner. Rather pirouette like. Not that either of us know how to do that. It was awesome! I even discovered that I could slap! Both legs! On and totally off in a big slap! A slap! Major break through.

This horse does wonders for my canter! I want more! I asked his owner if I could ride him again in a lesson. I didn’t get a real answer but I’m not afraid to push the envelope. I even paid her a horse rental fee for allowing me to ride him. Hey, money talks.

Stay tuned…