Saturday, May 30

Riding lesson

Greetings. Today’s lesson was all about balance and feeling the various muscles that are used to assist in balancing, such as the lap muscles below your shoulders. Also in not tightening my legs around the horse’s middle, since this can tell the horse to speed up. I noticed that I also lean forward a lot, which I’m continuing to work on. More leftovers from the prior mainstream riding center, since I struggled with balance and leaning forward at that place. I was on bareback a lot there, and thus my legs over time got tighter around the horse instead of being loose. The more relaxed you are the better. Brenda said at one point that in a riding class she took, she was prevented from riding bareback for just this reason, that the legs become used to being tight around the horse instead of loose.

After doing some walking around the arena in one direction, we turned and started going the other way. We worked on standing in the saddle when the horse was standing still. Well, perhaps standing isn’t the right word, it was more like rising up. Since I’m so tall, my stirrups have moved further down the horse’s sides, so when I stand or rise, it doesn’t feel like I’m standing. Rather, it’s like I’ve moved a few inches above the saddle. This led Brenda to talk about trotting and posting, and how rising up in the saddle will help when I start doing those things, and later when I eventually move to another horse after Paint.

We then started having Paint walk faster. Suddenly the arena got lots shorter. Brenda helped count the steps along the sides, but after awhile, I felt like we were constantly turning to the right and going in one large circle. The corners of the arena were blurring together for me and I was getting dizzy. I then stopped Paint and tried to explain this to Brenda. She seemed perfectly willing to take things at my pace, which is good. Later, at the usual time when I would dismount in the arena, Brenda suggested that I ride Paint back to the stall area instead of walking beside him. I initially was wary of this since part of it involved going up a hill. I mistakenly heard at the last place that you lean back when going up hill. Brenda told me that you actually lean forward, which I was much more comfortable with. The ride back went fine. I was sure grateful for the grab strap on the pummel of the dressage saddle though, especially on that uphill climb.

One other interesting thing happened today. Before I even started my lesson I went and was visiting the other horses in the stall area that I normally groom and saddle Paint in. Bullwinkle, the 18 hand horse, I was told was getting some hay to eat, then dipping it in his water bucket before he ate it. I quipped to Brenda that he was doing the cookies and milk thing. I then made my way down to First Choice, the other tall horse at this farm who’s stall is on the other end of the 4 stalls from Bullwinkle. After we convinced her to come over and see us rather than eat, Brenda gave me some peppermint pieces to give her as treats. After she ate the two pieces I gave her, she started licking my fingers, then my hand, then my arm. Then, she sniffed and licked my shirt, in front and on the side and in back. It was quite funny. Being the horse lover I am, I just stood there with a grin from ear to ear and in bliss, with this large animal essentially licking my shirt and my left arm and hand. Meanwhile, Brenda and one of the volunteers were cracking up. That was one of those moments that will stay with me for awhile and one I wish I had a picture of. Perhaps we can recreate it later and get one. It was sure fun though. Incidentally, Gucci has had an interesting time discovering where First Choice was licking me and the smells associated with that whole event. Until next time, happy trails.

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