I had a riding lesson in a different place today, in an outdoor school. I was on a lovely horse - very sensitive to my aids and willing. He's also bigger than the horse I normally ride.
All was going beautifully. I was luxuriating in being outside, riding in the sunshine with short sleeves (they seem a lot more relaxed in this school). Any way, about half way through the lesson, another horse is put out to pasture at the end of the school and starts rubbing itself along the fence. My horse doesn't seem too bothered by this and we trot by quite happily and onto a 20 metre circle (okay - oval!). As we come around again, the instructor asks me to give the horse by the fence a tap with my riding crop as I go past. I wasn't too sure about this, but thought I'd do as I was asked, but of course I made two fundamental errors!
1. Instead of just walking on the approach to the other horse, I asked for trot.
2. At the same time as asking for trot I put the crop into my outside hand and up - yes I know now - by his ears.
It was quite awesome - the power of the spooked horse. Firstly we went up into the air, and then off into a sprint around the school. I lost one stirrup and still had the crop up by his ears as I clung to his mane. It then dawned on me that unless I got rid of the crop, we'd never stop, but didn't fancy letting go of the mane either. Eventually - I say eventually but it all happened in a split second - half way around the school, I managed to stay sitting firm, letting go of said mane, and throwing the offending crop to the ground. I could've tried putting it into my hands the correct way but I couldn't think too straight while hurtling around the arena.
Poor horse! I will never do that again! But on the positive side...
1. I didn't feel frightened at all.
2. I didn't fall off.
3. I brought him back to a steady canter, then trot, and finally to walk in only 3 circuits of the school!
4. It was sooooo exciting! I love it! Even when they spook I love it. I think I must have a death wish, but no matter what anyone says - horses are never as scary as rock climbing!
Now I'm off to soak in hot bath because my legs are aching!