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A lot has happened in the past year. At times I’ve thought that I just couldn’t do this. It’s frustrating, discouraging and disheartening.

And that’s just the trot!

Correction. That’s the walk. I still haven’t gotten him to trot!

I can’t believe this! I’ve reverted back to beginner level.
Why, why, why did she put me on Charlie?

Please trot. Please.
I hate schoolmasters!

“Most people don’t have this problem with Charlie. It’s you. You’re too tight today,” said my instructor. “Looks like I’ll have to chase you around.”

Ah, pearls of wisdom. It’s you. I know it’s me. Sigh. Now how do I fix it!

Uh-oh. Here she comes! (Trottt, trottttttt, trotttttttttttt)

Oh, the shame of it! (Hanging my head in shame.)
Someone please give me a paper bag.

I give up.

Wait.
Was that a trot?
Yah! Let’s go!

Nope. I don’t think so. Nada. Not happening.

Sigh. It’s just not happening today. I give up. Sigh.

Wait.
Another trot?
Hmm.

Let’s go!
Nope.

I give up. Sigh.
(Trot)

Hmm, I think I’m onto something here. My legs and fingers are relaxing when I sigh and say “I give up.” That’s allowing Charlie to move forward. Then when I start to think abut trotting and “Let’s go!” my legs start to grip and my fingers tighten. I’m telling him to stop not go! What’s wrong with me?

And that was an awesome lesson.

Maybe, just maybe change is good. Maybe. You see no one had told me it was Opposite Day. Okay, maybe not in the true sense of the word but believe me everything was — well, opposite.

For instance they swapped horses on me. Can you believe it? I’m not complaining though. I’m just praying that I’ll be able to avert New Horse Syndrome. Please, please, please.

Savannah was already being ridden so, I’d ride the schoolmaster instead.
Opposite!

The schoolmaster is stiff right, hollow left.
Opposite!

I was wearing my new winter riding stuff and —
Well, you get the idea.

The meat and potatoes
I’d have a chance to work on some lateral movements with a horse that did them easily. There was a catch though. Of course, there’s always a catch. Sigh. I’d have to ask for each movement correctly otherwise, I wouldn’t get it. As a matter of fact, I may not be able to get Charlie to move — at all! Gasp!

I was successful in getting him to walk, even to do haunches in and shoulder in while walking. It was an incredibly slow pace but I did it. Yah!

Then it was time to ask for the right lead canter from a walk. Ack, I can’t look.
“You may not get it though. Not many people do the first time.”
And off we went. Cantering around the ring.
Ahem, Opposite!

Soon enough, I was faced with an inability to ask and get for the canter. I was on the left lead, which meant that his stiff side was on the right. I could feel him ever so slightly, pressing against my right leg and instead of standing him up in the outside rein, I stiffened. Stiff right against stiff right does not produce a canter. Sigh.

Then I started to get nervous. Not because I was afraid in a fear way but because I was afraid I’d look stupid. Yep, stupid. I felt stupid because I couldn’t get canter, therefore I looked stupid. Do you like my logic? Sigh. A stranger was watching this part of my lesson and for some reason I felt the need to — well, not look stupid.

Of course, I didn’t need to worry about it because within a few strides I was cantering. Whew!

Then it was time for sitting trot. Oh, no. Sit a few strides then post a few strides.
Sitting…sitting…sitting…huh, comfy…sitting
“Lee, do you find him comfortable to sit?”
“Heck, yeah!”
“Not many people do.”
Really?…sitting…sitting…
“You go girl!”

I think I sat the trot at least twice around the arena! That’s two laps not two strides!
Opposite!

Dessert
Next up was the flying change! I was to pick up the right lead canter, cross the diagonal and around X ask for the lead change. Intentionally! I’ve never done this intentionally and guess what? Success! More than once.

More!
I want more!
More, more, more!

This is embarrassing. I mean really embarrassing. A grown woman is acting like a bratty two year old and her favorite word is “No!”  I can’t believe she’s talking to an instructor like that! She isn’t even doing anything difficult. Just some walk/trot work, mostly on a 20 meter circle. And the horse is gorgeous! A big, floaty trot when he’s truly engaged. <sigh> Most of us would kill to ride the dressage schoolmaster. She’s a good rider and can definitely handle it. What’s her problem?

Um, that bratty two year old? Uh, that’s me.
I know…I know… (hands patting the air)
Embarrassing, huh? A grown woman… (shaking my head)

My inner child was triggered by several things. I think…

  1. During warm up Thunder’s nose started to run. Green mucus, yuck! His owner took him to an isolated stall and placed a call to the vet. No fever though.
  2. This is my first lesson ever with my instructor’s replacement. Performance anxiety?
  3. A horse replacement scramble ensued and because the dressage schoolmaster had just been used… In the meantime, this is what I overheard: the rider complaining that he just wasn’t rounding. Not rounding = giraffe head. When his feet were done the other day an abscess was discovered. Amazing, that he never seemed to be in any pain. By the way, how was he? Bucking? (huh? bucking? gulp)
  4. Circles. Lots of circles. Nothing winds me up faster then circles. How can something so easy be so difficult?!

The lesson went something like this…

Pick up a trot on a 20 meter circle at A. Okay
Get your heels down. Sorry, bad habit. OK, down on the up…
Push him forward! More? No!
What?! He’s not even moving!
Not moving?! You’re crazy! Compared to Thunder…MOVING!
Don’t pull back on the reins. Aaarrrrgh!
Just in front of the vertical, on it, just in front…
He’s falling in on that circle push him off that inside leg. Tapping
Push him out with your whole leg. Pushing
Use your knee and thigh not just your lower leg. Thud
Don’t lose the outside rein connection and give with the inside rein. Aaarrrrgh!
Uh-oh, giraffe head. I don’t like this…I’m feeling really nervous.
Why? You’re doing fine. Pay no attention to his head and push him forward.
Oh my God! Butterflies. I’m actually starting to shake…
No! I’m not comfortable.
When was the last time you videoed yourself riding? Shrug
You’re a good rider and you can handle this. Uh, I can’t today.

Hmm, like I said, embarrassing. Get a grip on yourself woman! You’ve ridden this horse before. This lesson wasn’t any different from the others. Gee! Could someone please send the real Dressage Rider back?

I miss her.

Contact Me

leecullen@comcast.net

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