I have to tell you that writing this blog was absolutely an instigator to get me to take some lessons again. Knowing that I had a place to come discuss everything really makes me very, very happy! I don't even care if nobody reads it, I just always have so many thoughts and feelings about riding and horses in general, and heaven knows my poor family gets that glazed look after about five minutes of Mom babbling on and on... so writing here is awesome. I'm going to split this post so you don't get too much babbling!
I was really nervous all day Saturday before this lesson. Like, if I thought about going, my stomach did a slow twist, so I tried to focus on my work (I had to work from 9 - 3). Why was I nervous? Mostly fear, I guess. Not fear of falling off. I really don't worry about that, thank goodness. Fear of looking/acting stupid. Fear of suddenly forgetting everything I ever knew about riding or horse care. Fear of people being snobby or rude, because let's face it, you do run into those types at H/J barns (probably any horse barn). General fear of the unknown...
Oddly, by the time I actually got to the place I was doing okay. I reminded myself that I was paying them to do something, so I was the customer, and I had "rights," too, among them to be treated nicely. :-) Furthermore, I have at least one friend who boards there and she had assured me that I would be fine. I had no idea when she's usually at the barn, but was crossing my fingers that on a Saturday I might catch her. I laughed at the sign they had on the side of the driveway: "Old dog. Stupid Dog. Slow Dog. WHOA!" I was pretty calm when I pulled into the lot and parked my van between a Mercedes and a BMW (*koff*). I hopped out and snapped a few photos so you guys could see the farm. It's very nice and well-kept!
Oopsie... guess what middle-aged lady was wearing her contacts, the ones with which she can't see up close without reading glasses, the latter being cleverly left back home. The only way I could see a thing was to go back outside into the intermittent sun, and even then I have the feeling my name/address/signature/insurance info. are probably not terribly legible on those forms! Saddles make decent writing tablets, though, come to find out.
Once the paperwork was dispensed with off I went (Sally had disappeared to put her horse away). I had been told I was riding a horse named "Thumper," who I assumed was a gelding. Well, okay, there was a chestnut horse wearing a blanket standing on cross ties in the aisle. Halter plate said "Tucker." It was a mare. Didn't think this was my horse... but wait a second, the blanket said "Thumper." ??? As I pondered this dilemma, a smiling girl came around the corner. "Hi," she said brightly, "Are you RW?" Yep, that's me, but more importantly, is this in fact my horse? She was!
I groomed Ms. Thumper and Katherine brought me her bridle and a half-pad. My own saddle pad would do on the bottom. I hate to tell you how old the plaid thing is (it was made by Wilkers and I think dates to around when I graduated from HS - it came with my first saddle), but it's still functional. Thumper was a good girl and definitely had the "been there/done that" aura of a seasoned school horse, which was fine with me. No snorting, pawing steeds necessary right now. She did give me a wee bit of trouble when I went to bridle her, because literally the instant her MC was off and one tie unclipped she was all about cribbing on the stall door next to her. I've never had to deal with a cribber that dedicated, and now I know all the things I've read about them are true! (Wendy, I'm thinking of Jag, of course) I managed to wrestle myself into the new half-chaps and they felt okay.
When we were ready we went out to the arena. The big group of juniors had gone and I was alone but for one girl riding a beautiful B/W Pinto WB. My instructor was the head trainer, which was a little intimidating. I climbed aboard - and gosh, it was nice to sit in my own saddle again! :-) I adjusted the new stirrup leathers, which went okay, thank goodness. I had noticed in the tack room that all the schoolies wore those faux-sheepskin comfort girths. They are nice for the horses but whew, I'd forgotten how stretchy they are! I thought I'd gotten the darn thing pretty tight but was able to take it up two more holes once I was sitting on the horse. I finally got everything situated and we headed towards the rail at a walk....
A verrrrrryyyyyy sloooooowwww waaaaallllkkkkk. Oh, dear. Thumper was a sweet girl but turned out to not be terribly inclined to movement unless heavily encouraged, and I was immediately afraid that my out-of-shape legs were not up to the task. Squeezing really didn't do much and I almost immediately had to apply some mild stick to her backside. Shades of my old chestnut mare friend Polly! (But at least this one hadn't tried to kill me on the cross ties) The trainer told me to get up in 2-point, which they like to do to stretch riders and horses at the beginning of a lesson. That was okay, but staying in 2-point while also trying to squeeze Thumper on was rather difficult. I did my best and we walked a lap or so around the ring that way. Then we picked up a trot...
TO BE CONTINUED