Before I left town for the weekend, I had another lesson.This time I rode this horse.
Zoe is an 11 year old Saddlebred mare. She is a lot more horse than the one I rode in my last two lessons.Saddlebreds even look different in stalls. They are so upright- their heads and necks are up, and they move quick and watch you with expectant, bright eyes. They just look a little more intimidating and exiting than your average stock horse.
I heard that Zoe could be a pill on the ground. While waiting for my instructor to finish another lesson, I scratched her neck and softly stroked her face through her stall, pleading please don't buck me off when I ride you, please don't buck me off when I ride you.She was very sweet, shifting sideways to the stall bars so that I could reach her, her eye starting to close sleepily. Okay, she seemed to like me.
I wasn't actually nervous to ride her. But oh goodness, I felt a little out of my element! This isn't a push-button horse. She doesn't just trot while you sit up there and look pretty. Which is okay-dokay with me. I want to learn to ride her. And this mare makes you learn how to ride. How to get her head where it needs to be. How to get her set back under herself and use her body correctly.
I'm still working on my leg position. Now I've added an additional set of reins, as Zoe is ridden in a full-bridle (curb and snaffle.) And I'm on a horse I've never ridden, with a completely different form of movement than the Arabian I rode the last two times.
I was fairly happy with the lesson. We had some moments, me using my hands and the reins wrong, confusing her or upsetting her mouth. I had her trotting and cantering a little too fast at times. My downshift transitions from trot to walk or canter to trot were pretty ugly. And I kept losing a stirrup now and then (I am getting better about getting them back while in motion though, thank goodness!)
When you don't ride Zoe right, she stops and parks out, refusing to work for you. She did this once during the lesson, but I was able to get her going again. I felt good being able to get her working again, it shows I had some confidence and she sensed it.
I am at that point though- where I'm like wow, this is hard work. I mean, I never expected it to be easy, and I don't want to ride something push button- I have my own horse for that. My goal was to broaden my skills and learn something new. It will be frustrating at times. I joked with my instructor- can you just duct tape my legs where they are supposed to be? I don't understand them, they won't stay where I tell them! And who invented these tiny narrow wobbly stirrup leathers, anyway? I think I will probably hit a major moment of frustration at some point. But don't they say that is usually the case before a major breakthrough?
I asked my instructor to take some video of me riding. At the end of the ride, I asked her if she'd gotten any and she said oh, no, I forgot! So I went a few more rounds but Zoe was done. When she is near the end of a lesson, she tries to drop her head down (you'll see her do it in the video) in an attempt to get away from the bit and me in general.Regardless, hopefully this video gives you a taste of where I'm at. You can see when she tosses her head a bit (nose up) she is trying to get away from the bit, which means I am being too hard on her mouth.
It's all in the feel and I know that next weekend, I will ride her a little bit better. It was helpful for me to see a video of what I looked like up there on her back, and that even though my legs are too far forward and I'm using my back too much when posting, I don't look quite like the train wreck I felt like! I hope to have Paint Girl take some more video when she returns from her trip.
All in all, I think Zoe was pretty forgiving of me and was really trying for me. I really enjoyed riding her and hope that in the next few lessons, I can start to figure out this style of riding. I am really enjoying it! It's hard to believe that I have cantered two new horses in the last three weeks, and been fairly comfortable doing it. I do believe I am getting over my cantering issue!
I am out of town visiting family. For Valentine's day I got to ride my mom and aunt's horses, then watching some of the Daytona 500 and the Olympics, going on a walk with my cousins, and eat homemade lasagna and apple pie at my Nana's. I'm hoping to use the Nikon a lot this trip, I feel like it's been a few weeks since I've really taken any pictures! I hope you all had wonderful Valentine's and if you have President's Day off, enjoy the extended weekend!