Friday, March 3, 2017

More guest lessons: jumping, legs, seat, and... falling.

I had three more lessons up in North Bay, after the first one there that I last wrote about. These ones went much better, and I surprised myself with some of what I was capable of, especially after such a long time off this winter.

I switched horses after the first lesson, and rode an older little chestnut mare. 18 years old and about 14.3hh. She had a bit of pony-tude, but only enough to be fun. She was a pleasant ride, very clever and very very smooth. Sitting her trot and canter was easy and nice!

She had a cute little jump. Very pleasant. And even when she didn't come in on a perfect distance, her stride was short enough that it never felt too jarring. Over the course of three lessons, I rode her at WTC, and put her over some cross rails. I got better at waiting to fold over the jumps, and keeping my eyes up, and it started to mostly feel pretty good. By the final lesson, I was doing a little five-jump course. Just cross rails still, but I'd rather jump tiny and well than bigger and poorly.

My first lesson on her, and a bit on subsequent lessons (though it was better after I brought my crop), she would acknowledge my canter aid by pinning her ears and proceeding into the FUCK YOU trot. Around and around... The instructor had to snap a lunge whip at her a couple times on the first ride. By my third and final (for now) lesson on her, though, we were understanding each other better and she'd (mostly) canter when I asked, or at least do a shorter bit of the FUCK YOU trot first!

I also had my first refusals since starting up again at the jumping. My usual ride is SUPER keen into the jumps, so instead of having to push her into them, I have to half halt half halt half halt to keep her steady into them. With this little old school horse, I was dropping my leg a stride or so out, so she'd just go "Oh I don't have to?" and stop. Happily, not an abrupt stop.

She was much better, generally, about the snow coming off the roof. She only spooked a couple of times, and they were very minor, but...


Yeah, so, I was tasked with cantering the whole five-jump course, after having gone through a couple of times at a mix of trot and canter. The instructor said, "Just keep her cantering steady and she'll sort out her distances. Don't worry so much about them."

And then I said, "It's okay, I'm actually not TOO worried. Not to jinx myself, but I seem to be pretty sticky! Haven't fallen off since I started back riding."

Saying "Not to jinx myself" is not a very good protection against jinxing yourself, apparently, because after the second jump on the five jump course, she landed on the wrong lead. I was instructed to do a simple change to fix it. Which I started. This little horse has very abrupt downwards transitions, which I still hadn't fully gotten used to. So as she dropped to trot I got slightly ahead of the motion... and at that exact second, snow slid down the roof and she spooked sideways. I pitched forward and wound up on her neck, starting to slide forward and down. She started to turn on the spot abruptly and there was too much going on to haul myself back up. Decided I was past the point of no return, and I let myself let go and drop.

I actually landed quite well, considering. I was aware of my body and her body and I dropped onto my back and shoulder and curled into a ball, trying to roll away from her feet. As super awkward stupid falls go, I actually executed it pretty well.

When I got up I was more amused than rattled -- mentally. It was just such a dumb little fall. But my ADRENALINE had other ideas and I was trying to explain that "I'm really perfectly okay!" while sounding like I was going to break into sobbing at any second. "I'm not REALLY going to cry, I swear! *loud plaintive wheeze noise* It's just the ADRENALINE!!"

I got my breath, walked her back to the mounting block and hopped back on. Walked most of the way around the ring to get my bearings again, then felt good enough to re-do the course. And I (pretty much) nailed it!! No refusals, got every lead, didn't break from the canter. I did start leaning forward and twisting my upper body to the right -- I think the remaining panic in my system was bringing out and exaggerating every one of my quirks. Bodies are so weird.

But I did it!!

I think that was my first time successfully navigating a whole course like that, using the whole ring, with a number of jumps, and keeping my canter throughout -- and nailing the leads and everything! Even though my form was a bit compromised, especially towards the end, I got the job done and didn't look terrible doing it. It was a very good note to end on after that silly fall.

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