I managed to fit another riding lesson in last week, my work schedule being too crowded to allow one the previous week. I was excited this time, whereas I’d been anxious the first time (would I get on with the horse and instructor? Would I embarrass myself? Just how much work would I discover there is to be done? And so on… I’m extremely self-critical).
So I arrived for my second lesson more relaxed, nerves regarding being judged by a new instructor gone. I was assigned the horse I’d ridden previously, enabling me to feel even more secure. I rode in the indoor arena this time – a space which I’m spookily familiar with, having spent 10 years riding around it as a child and teenager. Leading the horse into the arena brought back a lot of memories – most of them brilliant ones, I’ll hasten to add! – and I quickly settled down to work.
As before, I experienced that beautiful mind-emptying moment as my leg swung over the horse’s back, and I was lost to the experience of being in the saddle for the next half an hour. I concentrated fully on what the instructor was saying, how the horse was responding to me, and how I could make it all better.
We warmed up, and I ran through some responsiveness exercises (for both of us) and a trotting exercise (for me – I was better this time, but I’m still finding it hard!) before my instructor asked how I feel about jumping. The answer was a quick run-through of where I’m at and what I’d like to achieve, and some trotting poles were duly placed.
I made easier work of the poles than during my previous ride and was then given a different exercise to do, to ease my nerves about leaving the ground again. I was soon hopping a small fence combined with trotting poles on a 20 metre circle – I’ve always loved this exercise as it’s quick and makes you keep thinking. There’s no let up, and the motion of riding on a circle makes you constantly re-adjust and think about how to improve whilst moving forwards.
Left canter still eludes the horse and me, which is very frustrating: this was a problem we had with the unschooled horses at camp over the summer, compounded by the fact that left is my weaker rein by far. It seems to have come home with me (I tried to leave it in America!) and I’m now concerned it’s going to be a tough one to break. Hopefully my instructor and I can come up with a strategy to fix it – anyone else have any ideas?
The big plus for me in all of this is that I’m getting to ride fairly regularly and it’s going well so far – I’ve improved from one ride to the next, as well as enjoying it. Long may it continue! My next lesson is coming up quickly – it’s tomorrow – but beyond that I’m not sure when I’ll get to go again due to the Christmas break. Hopefully it won’t be far into the new year before I’m back in the saddle and continuing to progress.