And man, was it a humbling experience. It’s hard going back to a sport you were once quite skilled in and having to have the equivalent of training wheels put on. I went last night. This was a birthday present from my hubby–BEST GIFT EVER! (Well, for me!)
I’m soooooo excited to be back in the saddle again. It was quite humbling, as it has been more than 10 years since I rode regularly. I’ve taken trail rides here and there, but actually focusing on riding skill…eek! Plus, I’m now taking lessons in Western (I always rode English huntseat–jumping, basically), and you’d never know just how much can be different between the two disciplines. The way you sit in the saddle is near opposite, and tacking up is a bit more complicated. Even how you hold the reins and steer–and how you use your legs–is very much a different approach. So, not only am I in the saddle for the first in many years, but the way I was taught has to be re-taught. (I chose to learn Western for two reasons–one, it’s a discipline I should know to round out my knowledge, and two, if I ever do own a horse for pleasure, I would ride Western. Trail rides in English are pretty silly.)
I rode a 24-year-old mare named Beauty, and my lesson included retrieving the horse, brushing her down and picking her hooves, and tacking her up. Considering I used to work at a stable getting lesson horses ready, this was a bit humbling too–I had to relearn quite a bit. Then, once I was finally in the saddle, the mare had a long line on her–that’s basically a long leash that attaches to the bridle and was held by my instructor (and the equivalent of training wheels). It wasn’t entirely necessary, but considering this was my first lesson with her, and first in the discipline, and first in over a decade, I understood. All I did was walk and trot, but it was so hard! Because I was taught to sit with my butt tucked out from under me (so I was perched on my pubic bone), and because Western dictates the complete opposite, a lot of my lesson was just focusing on sitting correctly (and it’s necessary, too, otherwise you just smack delicate parts against the saddle!). For an old gal, the mare was very sensitive to my legs, and as an older horse does, she was teaching me rather than I was guiding her.
It was mostly a lesson in balance and positioning, as well as developing a new feel for the horse’s mouth/holding the reins.
But…I loved it! My instructor was awesome and we got along swimmingly. We chatted horses for a while after, and she let me go visit her new pride and joy–a one-week-old foal. I even got to go into the stall with mom and baby and get greeted by the very friendly little girl.
Heaven, I tell you. Heaven. I can’t wait to go back!
(and I just had to share!)