Along for the ride:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Riding Progress

I have ridden every Saturday for a number of weeks. This alone is an achievement. It is all too easy to let life, work, money, and self-consciousness about my rusty skills intervene to prevent me sealing the deal with myself that this is important to me and not to be denied or postponed any longer.
The stable I visit is less than ten minutes away; up the hill; past the reservoir and through the vineyards. The surroundings are pleasant, the horses well cared for. 
Yesterday I was given Amadeus to ride. Deus is a big bay gelding with a long neck and a slow, rhythmic stride. He is obviously an older horse but appears to have had some schooling in his long ago youth. Once I woke up his dead-to-the-leg sides he was lovely into my hands and his snaffle bit. 
More progress; I can now ride for the whole hour without too much huffing and puffing, and I am talking about the (supposedly) advanced class now. We rode quite a bit without stirrups. This I have been able to do fairly easily since the day I bought my first pony and Dad said I would have to wait until my birthday to get a saddle to go with him. Funnily enough the emergency dismounts that we practiced yesterday at the trot were learned back then as well. King Arthur the Great, as my strong, Cobby 13.2 hh Thelwell-derived pony was called, had a mouth of iron. Even in his kimblewick and curb chain he could bolt at the walk. King never deigned to waste the energy to take off at the gallop, but he was always very successful at going where he wanted to go. It was often easier to jump off and pull him along by the reins than try to direct him from above. 
There was a pony in the class yesterday who turned to bite the rider's foot a few times. I am convinced that most ponies have some devil in their blood-lines. They are usually good for a laugh, if not from the rider, from the spectators.


  1. I remember well the weekly lessons before I got my own horse. Those were some of the best hours of my life. Just being around the horses made me smile.

    Even now, a lesson is something special. Even if I don't learn anything new, having another set of eyes and ideas to comment on what I am doing somehow adds to my whole riding experience.

    Ponies were bred to torment people...I am sure of that. Even the kindest ones have a sense of humor when dealing with us inept humans. I swear they laugh at us all the time.

    Deus sounds like a honey. Maybe you will get to ride him more often. A good steady older horse is a great schoolmaster when you are working to develop and improve your seat.

  2. Hi Jean,
    I don't want to be negative about the riding lessons, which is why I am not writing much. We get no critique regarding our position and this last lesson we were riding "barrel racing clover-leaves" I don't think our teacher knows about serpentines. This is the "advanced" group and she said not to worry which lead we were cantering on. Hmm. I keep reminding myself this is a place I can afford. The Red Barn attached to Stanford University charges $75 a lesson. Lets get this economy started again so I can ride, ride, ride.
    I am happy with what I am doing, despite the whingeing. At least I am riding.

  3. Any chance of doing some practice riding there on your own?

    The other option would be a private lesson where you could ride under supervision, but "do your own thing." Teacher could pick up a tip or two along the way.

    The lessons may not be the greatest, but you are getting saddle time and getting fit. I totally understand where you are coming from. The horses sound pretty nice overall, so that's another plus. Just keep smiling and enjoy every moment in the company of these glorious critters we seem to be addicted to.

    Now if you were near me, I'd be glad to have someone ride one of my Boys now and then. Have to wonder if there may be someone on the West Coast like me who could use an extra rider once you get fit.

    When you're ready, check around the tack shops. Sometimes they hear of people.

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