Thursday, February 15, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

Riding Lesson Recap: Learnings from week 2

1. I have a new love in my life. His name is Carter and he's 11 years old, 16hh and 1400 lbs! I've always been a sucker for a gelding, especially a dark chocolately brown one, and this guy is as stunning as they come. Although I hope to have the chance to ride all of the horses at the Academy over time, if I get to choose my horse in the future, this guy will be at the top of my list.

2. Seven, the mare from last week was a very gentle ride, a little on the lazy side because she'd been ridden on and off all day. By comparison, Carter, while sweet natured, is frisky and raring to go. He hates to stand still so we spent a lot of time shifting around while our instructor tried to hold my attention and teach me a thing or two. No kicking required to get this guy into a trot. The slightest loosening of the reigns and we were off.

3. I'm dying to canter. My classmate V1, who rode with me this week, lost control of her mount (Honey) for a minute and as a result ended up in a surprise canter. Watching her reminded me how much more comfortable a canter is than a trot, smooth and silky, and the best part? No posting required. My inner thighs were already shaking by this point so a canter would have been a sweet relief. Maybe next week?

4. Horses are a lot like dogs. They are playful and manipulative and will take advantage of you if you let them. Although they are about 20 times his size, these giants are not much different from The Momes. They are creatures of habit and routine is so important that the slightest variation can cause massive distress. They have a pecking order and when they are turned out in the paddock together during the day they will scrap and play just like pooches at the dog park.

5. This week we got to ride freely in the paddock (meaning not on a learning lead) in groups of two. For me it was much easier to have full run of the ring because it allowed me some alone time with Carter, while our instructor was at one end working with V1 and Honey. Without the scrutiny of the instructor, which makes me a little tense because I'm trying so hard to be perfect, I was able to relax and a lot of the stuff I'd learned as a kid really did start to come back. So I take it back, it is sort of like riding a bike. (A big furry bike with feet and teeth).

6. They sell riding gear for a reason. And it's not just because of how hot some people look in breeches and tall boots. Riding breeches have built in leather or suede patches on the inner thighs, calves and bum to prevent rubbing and banging against the saddle and the stirrups. My legs from the knee down are currently covered in bruises from riding in simple work-out pants and Doc Martins. Paddock boots are ankle height and perfect to wear with a pair of half chaps. My Docs would be okay if they were a little more broken in, but because they are so stiff, they rub against my shins when I'm pushing my heels down (a must in English riding), hopefully they will break in quickly. Thank God it's not bare leg season.

Introducing Carter:

Carter and Seven:

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