Day 10: Write about something in the last 24 hours that made you happy.
Yesterday I was able to go riding again for the first time in a month. That alone fulfills the requirement for this assignment, but I shall elaborate.
Chaka was off and Stringbean had thrown a shoe, so I was assigned a horse I hadn't yet ridden, a chestnut mare named Annie. I don't know what her story is, but I haven't seen her used in lessons often. Anyway, her most notable characteristic is a canter that is, to quote my instructor, "godawful." It's really about as uncomfortable a canter as you can get - herky-jerky, jarring, extremely difficult to sit. N, bless her, only had me canter once in each direction, "just to feel it," and then we did the rest of the lesson at the walk and trot.
You may be wondering how this qualifies as something that made me happy. Here's how.
1) After warming up in the indoor arena, we got to have our lesson outdoors for the first time in months. The weather was lovely, if a bit windy, and all of us were shedding layers of clothes as the lesson progressed.
2) Even though Annie was difficult and kind of bratty at the start of our ride, I eventually started (with N's expert guidance) to figure her out. By lesson's end we were working together much better. It took me weeks to figure out Chaka. Months, even. To make progress like this on a new (to me) horse in 45 minutes makes me feel like I'm getting my game back.
3) Annie threw in a few spooks and bucks, probably in part to test me and see how much she could get away with. At first I felt the familiar apprehension that has plagued me with Stringbean, but I was able to successfully beat it back and ride confidently through the little displays of 'tude as the lesson progressed. So I haven't completely lost my nerve after all. Yay!
4) When I woke up this morning, my shoulders, abs, legs and seat bones were all sore. Thus may seem like a negative, but it's actually what's got me happiest of all. See, Annie spent much of the lesson leaning on the reins with her head, pulling forward instead of softening her jaw and shifting her balance more to her rear end (which is the ideal). Though I was eventually able to convince her to do just that, I apparently handled the earlier, pulling, portion as correctly as one can hope to. I used my shoulder muscles and abs, rather than my hands and arms, to resist the heaviness of her head. My sore seat bones mean that my position in the saddle was correct. My legs are sore simply because I haven't sat astride a horse in a few weeks, so that one doesn't actually speak to any kind of skill on my part. Rather, it serves as a reminder that, hey, I got to go horseback riding this week for the first time in a while!
The last thing about yesterday's horsing that made me grin? N told me that next week, I can ride Vanya, who is her own, personal horse. That is a huge compliment, to be one of the handful of students in the barn whom she will allow to ride him. I may never again be as proficient a rider as I was at my very best, but as the saying goes, I've still got it. At least a little. ;)