Saturday, 6 December 2008

Discovering the 'on' button!

Poor old Siobhan. Always being accused of being lazy for not moving off fast enough in the walk, or taking an age to trot, or only doing a couple of strides of canter and then stopping again... when the whole time



When I arrived for my lesson yesterday, S (my instructor) took one look at me and said, "Are you sure you're okay to ride today?!" As usual I said of course I was, but she wasn't convinced at all, and I had to admit that perhaps jumping wasn't such a clever idea! The truth was I'd been awake (again) since 5am with stomach pains (now known to be simply constipation!), taken my double dose of oral opiates, managed to go to the loo eventually (but very uncomfortably), and had been deliberating as to whether or not I should cancel the lesson (but since I cancelled Wed, I knew I had to make an effort for my own sake). So I pulled on my jodhpurs, downed some anti-nausea pills, and set off anyway. As you do.

I promised S that I'd tell her immediately if I wasn't up to the job, and asked her if we could work on some things I'd been reading about, like knowing which leg is moving and when. Turned out to be one of those cracking lessons where it all starts to come together and make sense!

It isn't easy to work out which of the horse's legs moves first, or last come to think of it. Siobhan is often sluggish in the school too so that ought to have made it easier, but each time we set off in walk, and S asked me which leg moved first I looked at her with a blank expression. I was trying to think the answer when you have to feel for it instead. It got even more complicated when we moved off into trot, and I had to workout/feel which diagonal pair moved first. I struggled to 'listen' with my buttocks, but still didn't trust them, so when a fore-leg seemed to move first alone, in trot, I used my head and got it wrong - it was a lesson in following your instincts - to really see what is rather than what you think something should be!

After a while my brain (and buttocks) were frazzled, so we moved on to looking at the 'aids' in more advanced detail. In riding, the natural aids are voice, legs, hands, and seat (that is, the things you use to ask the horse to do something). The weird thing is you have to learn one way when you begin, and then as you progress, you learn more advanced methods to do the same thing! So the aid for 'walk on' becomes a squeeze with one foot and then the other (once your buttocks know which sequence the horse's legs are moving in), and trot becomes a squeeze with both legs (as opposed to it all being a squeeze with both legs!) Siobhan became a different horse in an instant, as though she said to me, "Aha! Now I understand what you want!" She walked off with a spring in her step, and moved into trot instantly, rather than ignoring my (previously unclear) signals.

And canter too! Wow!!! S moved my feet into position to ask for canter and a light went on - "Oh!" I said, "It goes that high up!" After a bit of work on co-ordination - trying to raise one foot up towards my own buttocks without losing a stirrup was hard - while keeping the other foot on the girth and squeezing inwards at the same time - I kept forgetting to move the other foot back in time, but Siobhan became a Ferrari! She was clearly pleased with me! Instead of waiting for her to canter - she turned her ears to me, saying, "I'm ready!" and the minute I squeezed the girth she cantered, and kept it going too!

So to all of you who think you just sit there, and kick the horse, and pull on the reins - it's just so not like that! Instead you need masses of co-ordination and a horse with tons of patience.

Spending Money again!

I finished the lesson with a feeling of achievement and deep satisfaction, and looked much better than I did before I started, so went to the tack shop and bought the little one some jodhpurs and riding gloves for Christmas, much to the bemusement of hubby. (He's lucky, I nearly bought her a pony to go with them ha ha!)

Still feeling Betterer and Writing - hurrah

The pain meds are working well, and I'm less woozy from the additional morphine-like stuff. If I can get my bottom sorted out, I'd be on cloud 10! Still doing my evening meditation cd, and repeating to myself that I am healthy and strong! I refuse to give up on my life! Just want to be healthy again... little else matters... also writing again and should have the next bit done by early next week!


Debs said...

Isn't it wonderful when it all clicks and everything comes together. Reading your post reminded me what a wonderful feeling riding was - I haven't riden for about 17 years now.

LOL at nearly buying a pony for the little one.

Good for you with the writing.

JJ said...

A pony to match her jods? LOL.

You sound terribly capable. I'm not sure I ever learned that stuff - or if I did, I've forgotten in now.

(The word verification is an anagram of siestas! How apt.)

ChrisH said...

I haven't ridden since I was a horsey teenager... I think most of my instructions to the horses must have come across to them as 'Quick! Chuck me off as soon as possible!' I'm glad you got it sussed.

hesitant scribe said...

debs - oh yes, although my body has to catch up with my head still, if you know what I mean! 17 years - I think it's high time you went and booked yourself a ride somewhere!

jj - couldn't find a candy striped one anywhere! Not sure I'm that capable, I'm just obsessive with everything I fall in love with! Have read loads of books on horses and riding now, and love it when the theory starts to make sense in practice!

chrish - I was desperate to be a horsey teenager - like Debs, you need a hack or something - maybe the next Novel Racers Meet could be on horseback, ha ha!
p.s. a long way off sussed - I think the horses I ride are thinking, "Oh, she's got it, she's got it, she's got it - Oh Bugger! She's lost it again!"

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Blimey, I never realised riding was so complicated. I thought you just sat on a horse and it went. Such good news that you're writing again, and that the pain meds are working well.

clairesgarden said...

heres some clips from the Footfalls dvd, should make it as clear as mud...

Mistlethrush said...

Listening with my buttocks - yes I'd find that confusing too!

Good luck!

sexy said...