Friday, May 29, 2015

Good News Today

It's been a good day.

I had my annual physical this morning and was pronounced well, very well indeed, considering. Got vaccinated for pneumonia and shingles while I was there.

Then this afternoon I rode -- not Royal this time, but a different horse, another of Hilly's schoolies, a mare named KC. I'd tried her a few months ago, my second or third time back in the saddle after my long layoff, and had been forced to use a Western saddle instead of my Aussie, which didn't fit her. I wasn't comfortable in that saddle; the stirrups were just too long; she seemed unnervingly wiggly, when being groomed and under me; and in short, it just wasn't fun, and after ten or fifteen minutes I gave in to my insecurities and quit.

But today was a different story. Today, with several successful, confidence-building rides on Royal to encourage me, I decided to try her again. My Aussie saddle still didn't fit her, but I brought my dressage saddle to the barn and with a foam pad it fit her well. Sure, it's not as secure as the Aussie, but it's my saddle, I'm comfortable in it, and the stirrups were the right length. (My dressage girth, sized to my big-bellied 16.1 hand TB, swam on her but fortunately Hilly found one that would fit.)

Now, KC is a quiet horse. A very quiet horse. Rather a slug, to be blunt. Also not straight, especially going to the right, requiring strong leg to keep her from sagging in toward the center of the ring, as well as strong, constant riding forward to keep her moving along in the trot. So after about 15 minutes of walking and trotting, I was so tired I said that's enough. I don't want to work that hard for my fun!

But! I was not afraid! I did not get that "OH SHIT" stab when she broke into her trot, as I had before; I felt completely in charge, even if frustrated at the effort it was taking, throughout the ride; I didn't even feel scared when KC caught a hind toe at the trot and took a couple of stumbling butt-dropping steps. In short, I have come a wonderfully long way from my last ride on her, and it feels great!

Royal's gaits are smaller than KC's, but once you put him in your chosen gear he pretty much stays there till you tell him to change, with minimal input. More fun for me to ride, and I'm going to stick with him henceforth -- for now, anyway. Hilly's currently investigating a Morgan gelding for sale in Vermont who might be perfect for me as well as her school program. If he doesn't get sold to someone else before then, she'll be going to check him out next weekend.

But whether or not we get that Morgan, or some other horse that would suit me comes along some day, I now feel confident that I will be able to move onward and upward in my riding. No, I'll never be the rider I was a decade ago, but I'm not done yet.

Here's KC with Hilly up, back in November shortly after her arrival at the barn. She's a nice mare, a pretty girl, easy to handle. Just not the right horse for me.

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