It’s been a hard week. Long days in the hot summer sun volunteering at horse camp has left me exhausted and my new boots have me feeling like an incompetent beginner again, which makes for some pretty disappointing rides. Since it was horse camp week, we also didn’t have any lessons (except one late Thursday afternoon, but I’ll talk more about that later…), so by Friday I was feeling like I’d made -10 progress over the course of the week. On the other hand, more time at the stable meant I got to hang out with The Show Buddy everyday, which was a lot of fun!
Here’s how this week of rides went:
I gave The Pony Monday off to recuperate from the 4-H show.
Tuesday Haylie and I gave something new a shot and saddled our ponies in dressage saddles. We set our irons down really low and gallivanted around the arena in our deep dressage seats. I even worked on extending The Pony’s trot and we put on some music and pretended to freestyle (rather poorly, of course!). It was a lot of fun and it also showed me that I might have some sort of problem with my all purpose saddle, because the change in stability I felt riding in the dressage saddle was ginormous.
Wednesday‘s ride is barely worth mentioning. I was only in the saddle for all of thirty minutes, most of which was spent walking around, bemoaning my new boots. I did pop over a cavaletti a couple of times (while Haylie shouted reminders to count my strides from her place on one of the cushy chairs on the viewing platform).
Thursday was our 5:30PM lesson with Molly. My mother came out to the barn for the first time with the video camera, so she got to meet some of the horses and see where I’ve been riding lately. Unfortunately, when I went to get Belle her stall was empty… her 4-H rider had a lesson right before mine 🙁 . I watched the tail end of them jumping the course and it was pretty clear that The Pony was exhausted, so I went and got Boston out instead.
I haven’t intro’d Boston on here, but here’s a quick overview: Boston is 16hh, broad, classically handsome, sensitive, and nervous. We call him Chicken Little because he acts like the sky is always falling. As awesome as he is (smooth gaits, nice frame, good looking), he also makes me nervous. He tends to overreact to my cues—if Belle is a pounds and inches horse, then Boston works in ounces and centimeters. They’re both challenging rides, but in completely opposite ways—and falling off of a 16hh horse is different than falling off of a 13.3hh pony.
I gave Boston a good lunge on the line to work out some of his spazz and then mounted up. Our lesson was being split between three people instead of our normal two and there was a full course set up throughout the arena. There was a lot of stuff going on and I set about getting warmed up while the other two riders did a little bit of coursework, all of us weaving in and out around each other.
I was fine through our trot work, but once we started to canter a sense of uneasiness set in. The Trainer had me move off the wall to work on our circles and serpentines… all while paying attention to who was jumping what and where the other two horses were. Ultimately we turned down the center line and Boston, thinking I had made a cue that I hadn’t, tucked his hindquarters in and locked up through the front, popping me right up out of the saddle. I had to fight with him to get him stopped while he blew threw my aids to halt. We were both unsettled and confused and the whole thing left me shaken enough that I walked him back to The Trainer, got off, and had to call it a day without going over a single jump.
I’m going to be honest, I cried. I spent the whole night sulking, disappointed in myself for letting Boston intimidate me. Looking back at the video, I can clearly see that I have everything under control and we look good together (which is exactly what The Trainer told me afterwards), but at the time I felt like everything was falling apart. 🙁 🙁 🙁
Friday was a day dedicated to having a good time with The Pony to make up for Thursday’s heartbreak. Haylie and I had a light ride around the arena after camp and then went out behind the barn to the 3/4 mile track. We walked around for a while, then dismounted (after a bad experience with a haul-in rider that rudely galloped past us at full speed, spooking our horses) and introduced the horses to some of the trail obstacles and cross country fences in the middle of the track.
What to Expect Next Week:
We’re back to our normal schedule next week (unsupervised rides Monday/Tuesday, flat lesson on Wednesday, jumping lesson with The Show Buddy on Thursday). Hopefully my boots will start softening up and I might have Mom out again to get some actual video of me jumping The Pony. I’ll be working on my two foot fences and I also have some big news that I’ll be unveiling at some point during the week.