Friday, March 12, 2010

"Post about your riding"

Hmmm... there's a novel thought. Post about riding horses... something I do weekly at least twice... Perhaps I should post about my RIDING... :)

Truth is, riding has been hard for me the past few months. Last April, Debbie switched barns from the Woodland Stallion Station to Willow Creek Horse park. Since she's my riding instructor and I love her dearly, and since she is ridiculously generous with saddle time for me and knows everything, I went with her. Transitions are never easy, no matter how you look at it... and honestly, this one has been pretty rocky.

I like WC a lot. It's a fancy barn, well maintained, great LARGE (and by large I mean GIGANTIC) arenas, warm water in the wash rack. It's perhaps not as homey as WSS. And no where near as beautifully situated. WSS is a gem of a boarding facility with the vineyards and the eucalyptus grove and the pastures. I definitely miss the scenery. And I miss the worn feeling that everything had. No, it didn't always mean that I could open the gate to the indoor arena, or that I wouldn't find spiderwebs covering the tack room and in every crevice... but WSS is a place unto itself... and has its charm.

I think the hardest part about leaving WSS, though, was leaving Omega, the lovely old gentleman Morgan gelding. No, he's not the brightest star of a horse... he's a brilliant horse for a beginner, though, and that's when my relationship with him began. I was a beginner, fresh off of two quarters of weekly lessons at UC Davis, and he treated me well... well... better than Trevor the crafty ancient appaloosa did, anyhow (another story for another time).

When I moved over to WC, I began riding Watson, a relatively as old as Omega, good-natured, tall, Hanoverian gelding. He's a step up as far as talent goes... he can jump cross rails and so I started learning how to jump cross rails too. Stepping up in riding means that you have to get back to the basics sometimes... that you have to relearn some things that your last horse made easy for you... and that you have to learn new things that maybe you weren't expecting.

When I first began riding Watson in May, I cried every time I went to the barn. I felt like he was too big for me, like I couldn't control him at all, and like I had regressed in my skill level so much that there was no hope for me. (Did I mention that transition is never easy?)

Debbie is fantastic and... could be a shrink (maybe she was in another life?). She's coached, coaxed, and counseled me through the down days and given me back some of my confidence. You can't ask for a better instructor, or friend.

So what is wrong? I'm not sure yet... but I need to figure myself out. Because it's the worst feeling in the world having a mini panic attack before a lesson, not being able to sleep at night, bursting into tears in the middle of my ride. Maybe I'm afraid, but I don't know what of... because everyone thinks I'm weird when I say what I think it is... I'm not afraid of falling off... although maybe I am because I haven't done it yet... I don't know. I know I'm afraid when Watson gets going and I can't make him steer accurately, much less stop. I'm afraid that we'll crash through a fence or into the wall or into someone else. I'm afraid that he'll injure himself, and that it will be my fault... that I will be responsible... through ignorance or incompetence. I am afraid.

And the power of positive thinking hasn't helped me yet. Maybe some day it will... all I know is right now when I read all those motivational tips from Jane Savoie or George Morris or anyone else, I feel cheated... like it can't be that easy. And when they tell me it is, I feel worse, not better. And it's horrible, because... all I ever wanted to do since I was a little girl was to ride horses every day... to be with them and be at peace...

But even though I've lost my peace, I can't give up riding. Not until I get it back...


  1. Great post! You should write regularly about your riding. I wish we had written about our UCD lessons -- would be interesting to read our thoughts/impressions now.

    I miss WSS too! Sticking with Debbie is worth giving up all the great things about WSS, but I do yearn for those trails and for that homey WSS feel.

    You know, I think you and I both over-think our riding. I am overly analytical and you are overly emotional. I'm going to have to mirror your advice to me-- get out of your head and just relax and ride. Maybe we should do a joint meditation session. =)

  2. Wow ia with Leslie, excellent post!

    I didn't realize that you'd been feeling this way (it sounds like you've made a lot of progress, what with jumping Watson, etc.). I relate to lot of the things you wrote about; that feeling of not having control and worrying that you'll screw up out of incompetence SUCKS!

    WSS is so relaxed and familiar that it stresses me out to ride other places, like WC (even though it's a great place). I can see why it would be a very tough adjustment to start over in a new place, with a new horse.

    How often do you get to ride Omega now? Do you think it would help to be able to have more relaxing, confidence-building rides on him?

    I also would love to read more about your riding, if you feel like writing about it. :)


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