My darling Copper. We are still in the getting to know each other phase and man, this horse has so much talent and training. These last almost 4 weeks have been a fun experiment in getting to know him and figuring out what his different buttons do along with where exactly they are located.
For my first several rides, we would go perfectly straight in one direction and then when we would change direction he would go into a pirouette. It took a few weeks but I finally figured out how to prevent the beautiful pirouette. So now since I was able to do it in the walk, it was time to do it in the trot.
Goals. I’ve learned that one shouldn’t set a goal when it comes to riding because you never know how your horse is going to be that day. They are living breathing animals with emotions, aches, pains and feelings. You can wake up and say, today I’m going to do this, this, this and that with my horse and realize shortly into your ride, your plan, your goal for the ride is completely thrown out the window. So my goals I set are small, usually if I can just get on my horse without anyone holding him that’s a win for me. But today, my goal was to trot in Copper’s harder direction. And when Judy sets herself a goal, watch out everyone, I’m going to see it through as best I can.
Our lesson started out great. Walking in both directions went very well, even crossing the diagonal to change direction was beautiful and so much more improved than a week ago. Then came the trot. We trotted several laps around the arena in his good direction. It was amazing. I was breathing, I was calm, I was having fun, I was on the correct diagonal most of the time, and when I wasn’t I corrected myself. I felt such joy being able to do this with him. Then we changed direction. And that’s when it all fell apart. That beautiful trot wasn’t happening, in fact he basically out right refused to trot in his harder direction.
So, I got off and my trainer Kari got on, to see what the issue was. Well, the issue is me as well as the saddle. The saddle we are using for Copper fits him but not the best. Our saddle fitter is coming next month and I’m hoping she can re-flock my saddle (basically readjust the padding) so that it will fit Copper. So between my wonky hip and a saddle that hasn’t been properly fitted to him, it’s giving him the wrong cues. While she’s riding him around in his hard direction at a trot, he picks up the canter. It’s beautiful. Kari is smiling and my heart just explodes to see this lovely canter.
At this point Kari gets off and I get back on. Copper is so confused lol. My goal, let’s just get the hard direction at the walk and try again. Again, the walk is good but the trot is a no go. Kari says, trot in the good direction and then trot him down the diagonal and change direction at the trot. That way, he’s got forward momentum and maybe we can “trick” him.
Well, Copper isn’t stupid lol, and I tried several times but failed. But I didn’t give up. In one last ditch effort I ask for trot in his good direction…but instead of trot, he cantered. I hit the canter button. Oops.😂
Now for those of you who’ve been following me for awhile, you all know I’m what you call a timid rider. There’s a risk to riding horses, but I have done my best to make the risks I take a bit more calculated as to limit possible injury – hence why I have spent so many lessons perfecting my seat at the walk. It’s that fabulous seat that kept me secure and calm in the saddle while my new horse, who I’ve only had for just under 4 weeks introduced me to his lovely canter today, and I didn’t freak out. 🎉
We cantered about 4 strides and I calmly collected him back to a trot because I still wanted to trot him in his harder direction, even though we skipped right to the canter lol. So I round the arena, we cross the diagonal while trotting, and look at that, we are now trotting in his harder direction!!! I let out a WOOHOO and transition him to a walk and our ride was done. Holy Cow!
Today was beyond awesome. I am so incredibly proud of myself. My growth as a rider and horsewoman is a miracle. For so many years, I doubted my abilities. I doubted my Alfie. I had convinced myself that maybe I just wasn’t good enough, wasn’t skinny enough, wasn’t strong enough – mentally and physically to succeed in this sport. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, this sport isn’t easy at all. What changed for me was a change in environment. What started out as wanting a different environment for Alfie quickly made me realize that I needed a change for myself.
My trainer Kari has led me on this incredible path. She not only turned Alfie into a dressage horse, but she introduced me to Martini, who taught me so much, including believing in myself.
Over 5 years of hard work, the last 2 1/2 years taking two lessons a week, have led me to this point. Cantering my new horse, not being afraid, smiling, laughing, being carefree, these were all things I never imagined for myself, and now they are a reality for me. I’m savoring today, because I have such an appreciation for when things go well, but I have an even bigger appreciation for when they don’t go so easily – because when they don’t – that’s when the true miracle of growth happens. And what a miracle it is.❤️🐴