Saturday, May 9

Riding lesson

Greetings. Today when I arrived at the farm, Paint was already in cross ties ready for me to groom him, which I started doing as soon as I got Gucci tied to a wooden post nearby. Shortly after I started grooming, Brenda came out and chatted with my driver for a few minutes than came over to me and we chatted for awhile. It seems like I always notice something about a horse when I’m grooming them, be it something with their body structure or something else. Today it was the overbite that Paint had. When I asked Brenda about it, she said it was mainly due to Paint’s age and the fact that he’s older. After a few minutes talking about his overbite and folding his lips back, I think Paint got a little tired of having his mouth messed with because he started pulling his head back. This is a gentle horse that wouldn’t hurt anyone, but we got the message.

Soon after I finished grooming him, I tacked him up with the riding blanket, spongy saddle pad and saddle, and then it was time to put on the bridle. I had alittle trouble getting the straps in the right places, but Brenda helped me, at least this first time. I have a feeling that this is another thing I’ll be doing on my own very soon. We then walked Paint down to the riding arena. One of the volunteers tied Gucci to a nearby rail so she could see me and what we were doing.

This lesson was more on controlling the horse with my thighs and calves. We practiced stopping and starting the horse with my legs, thighs to stop and calves to start. Brenda showed me how to get Paint going if the squeeze with the calves didn’t work, which was to give him two light kicks with my left foot. After doing this for awhile, she then asked me to do something which I wasn’t sure about: standing up in the saddle. We did a few rounds of this when Paint was standing still, which wasn’t hard. I even found myself lifting up a few times without being asked or prompted to do so. Each time I stood up, both when Paint was standing still and later moving, I put my hands on his mane, and gradually got used to simply lightly resting my hands on the mane, which was a weird feeling since all of the weight went to my legs and feet in the stirrups. Brenda then threw out the idea of me to stand up a little when Paint was moving, which I reluctantly did. One of the times that I came down though after rising up a few inches, I was leaning a little to the right, and that made me dizzy. The dizziness continued for awhile and didn’t really stop until after I had dismounted and we had walked a little ways. Standing in the saddle is preparation for later activities, such as posting while trotting. We also talked of paying attention to the horse’s movements, such as in his shoulder and when his left front leg was forward, then when it was back, and forward and back, etc. Brenda said this would be important later when we were posting. I got the feeling that posting wasn’t that far away in the lesson structure.

I had a little trouble dismounting since my right knee has been giving me trouble in the last few months. It can hurt at different times. I wear a flexible brace, but there are times when the brace doesn’t relieve the discomfort. Swinging one’s right leg back and over the horse when the knee is really hurting can be a trying experience. Since this current therapeutic riding program uses volunteers, verses the last center I was at that didn’t have them, though it wasn’t a therapeutic center, I took advantage of that and got one of the volunteers to help get my right leg started in the swinging motion. This helped me in the dismounting process. I felt a little awkward asking for this help since it seems like something I should have no trouble with, but I’m glad I did since it helped having someone else propel that leg. Once the leg got to the horse’s rear, I was able to carry it the rest of the way and dismount. Brenda observed that though tall horses are nice, when being not far from the ground is a plus when dismounting, which I agreed with.

Then it was just a matter of taking Paint back to the cross ties, brushing him off, and then making the way back to the car for leaving. I should say that when going from the cross ties area to the arena and back, Gucci’s not in harness. Last week she behaved herself pretty well, but today, she was wanting to sniff everything along the way. There were times I had to snap her leash and pull her forward in trying to get her to pay attention. Perhaps next time we’ll try that walk in harness to get her attention back on walking/guiding, rather than sniffing. I’m not sure when that next time will be, but sometime in the next week or two. Until then.

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