I woke up at 5:15 a.m. on a drizzly Saturday with an awful migraine wannabe. OH NO! I can't miss my first lesson! I got up, ate something, took Advil, and went back to sleep.
Luckily, I felt better a few hours later and was able to rouse myself and get ready to head to the stable. It was an early lesson so I was the only one there besides the instructor and a stall cleaner.
After reviewing my past experience and what I wanted to get from the lessons, the instructor debated what horse to put me on. I told her I had no problem with her having me ride a beginner horse and assessing my riding ability. After all, I know instructors probably have plenty of students show up that say, "Oh, I've ridden before." Meaning, they rented horses while on a vacation in Colorado. I am fairly comfortable admitting I am an intermediate level rider, but wanted her to be the judge. And, since it was my first lesson and I was a little nervous (but not as nervous as I thought I might be) I figured I'd rather start gently and work my way up!
Since I was 1)new to saddleseat, 2)knew how to post, and 3)haven't ridden much this winter, she put me on a "Steady Eddie" Arabian in his twenties, a retired western pleasure show horse. She did put a cutback saddle on him, but used an English bridle with a kimberwick bit and one set of reins.
I have no pictures from the first lesson, but I am hoping to feel comfortable asking the instructor to take some of me in the future. After she gets back from Scottsdale, Paint Girl is going to come watch one of my lessons so she can see what I'm doing and I will have her snap some photos and video.
The horse in this picture is not the horse I rode. I found a random photo on the web that looked like him. The horse I rode was completely grayed out, almost pure white, with large dark eyes and a long white mane and tail. You know, I think this lesson was the first time I have actually ridden a purebred Arabian!
I have to tell you, it was very cute, she started me out on the longe line! A few rounds at the trot and she said okay, I can take you off the longe line. It's obvious you know how to ride!
The Arabian, being a western horse, needed a lot of encouragement to move forward from a western jog to a trot. It is not easy to post on a slow trotting horse! I was trying to get the position in the cutback saddle figured out. You sit back in the saddle. Roll the thighs in (it's all in the thighs) keep the calves off the horse, your weight on the ball of your foot, in your big toe. Lift your ribs! So much to remember. I have no muscle tone from lack of riding. At one point she had me try, and I say try, a two-point, I could not even stand up in the stirrups for more than 2 seconds! Sad!
At times, I felt like a bumbling idiot, loosing a stirrup or bouncing around or on the wrong diagonal. I think I felt worse than I looked. We are always our own worst critics. The instructor told me I did very well, she said she's had students ride in a cutback for the first time who have their legs swinging all over.
But the Steady Eddie's canter, oh golly! I loved it! For all the issues I have with cantering, I could have cantered him all day! Nice smooth lope, he stayed in it, it was slow (but not his western show horse lope.) I felt like I was on a carousel horse. I've decided my issue is not with loping, but with loping my horse! His lope is not comfortable nor is the speed consistent. Something I need to work on.
Overall, it was a good lesson. I enjoyed the instructor, I felt she gave me good information and critique, as well as praise and encouragement when I was on-target. I have a lot of muscle strength to build. I also tend to over analyze everything I'm doing, I need to just relax.
Once I get on a Saddlebred, a horse that is more upright, she said I won't have my leaning forward issues as the horse's head will be raised and you'll naturally sit back (steady Eddie had a western head set.) The more advanced lesson horse will have a much faster trot and momentum, which will help propel that post. To the point she said I would have to remember to sit down!
I'm not going to be able to take lessons very frequently due to finances, so, my learning curve will be slow. I can practice the leg positions on My Boy, even in a western saddle. The instructor said riding in a cutback is a lot like riding in a western saddle. Although, she said a cutback saddle does nothing for you. She said it's all you- you have to do all the work!
And let me tell you, I am suffering. I am feeling the work! I am walking like an old lady today. It's better when I keep moving. If I sit down for any length of time then get up....yowsa!
For the next lesson or two I get to ride the Arabian again. After that, we'll see if I get to ride the horse she calls a "pistol."