Friday, February 24, 2012

Epiphanies. And Why I Hate Them. Part 3

There were several more riders, but rather than go rider by rider, and because there was some repetition of things I've mentioned in other clinic posts, I'll instead pick moments along the way.

Several riders rode english, which is different from the other clinics I've attended. The young woman was quiet, it was nearly impossible for those of us in the stands to hear her. She was riding a young horse, maybe 14 hands on a good day. His build was odd - huge head, pony body. He was, according to her, a Lipizzaner.

All of us were confused. This was a tiny horse. Even Mark seemed shocked, kept asking her about his breeding. The horse was well trained but you could see how rigid he was going. I gathered from Mark that she wanted to work on her canter departs. He watched as she demonstrated.

My novice eye only saw a bumpy ride, very little flow to the horse's gait.

"Go ahead and stop," said Mark. "How's your shoulder? Have you injured it?"

She said it was sore. It wasn't clear there had been an injury. It reminded me of the time I told my mom I broke my thumb hiking when I'd actually fallen from a cliff while rock climbing.

I wondered if her mom was among the auditors.

He had someone hold her horse while he took her through some physical therapy. Using a lead rope he had her do long stretches for her shoulder from three angles. Then he had her do it on the other side.

When she got back on her horse, it took just a few strides and the ride became more fluid. We were stunned.

"If there is tightness in your body, the same muscle will be tight in your horse," said Mark.

The little white Lipizzaner made it's fluid canter circles, moving into each gait softer every time.

A tiny bit of dread was dogging my heels. In another day we'd break camp here and the trainer wanted to hit the trails. I was looking forward to camping, but not to riding.

Not on the trails.

Every now and then over the span of the arena I'd see Smokey rearing in his stall, trying to see his friends. Pretty soon we'd be riding in the arena, this long, deep, glorious arena. I figured I could handle that without too much of a problem.

At least I hoped I could. I thought of the tiny Lipizzaner, his quiet, careful rider, her fluid movements. She had started that horse herself. Even in his rocky gait he was willing and quiet. And well trained.

"You did a real good job starting this horse," Mark was saying as the pair rode a slight diagonal. "Real good job."

I couldn't hear her, but saw her smile.


Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Sounds like Mark. He sees so many things most of us miss. OK, bring on the rest of this story.


Fetlock said...

I've been reading your great blog (but unfortunately not commenting) since I've been so swamped this quarter. After reading your posts about the clinic, I thought, yeah, one of the most wonderful things about horses is also the worst thing about horses.

Horse ownership is a lot like parenting, but it's also NOT a lot like parenting. When it comes to horses we have the opportunity to make so many conscious decisions--we get to choose what kind/color/sex/age of horse we will have. We get to decide where they will live and what we're going to do with them. We can sell them, if we want. That control makes it easier for us (I think) to constantly be questioning and doubting ourselves.

Whenever I start getting wound up about my inexperience (or whatever), I remind myself that they are supposed to be FUN. I spend too much money on them to feel inadequate and fearful every time I'm around them. I've really enjoyed reading Kate's blog about the steps she's taken with her horses after her fall--she came up with a multi-step plan of action that included extra training for her geldings and a place to ride her mare indoors. But some of us (due to finances, living in a rural area, health, horse illness, family stresses, etc.) don't have the options we'd like to have. The trick in that case is figuring out how to have fun with what's right in front of you.

Those of us novice horse owners sometimes get a really bad case of the "shoulds"...I should be able to conquer my fear of trail riding/loading/mounting. I should be able to ride this (insert age of horse) because (insert other reason here...he's not too old, she's old enough now to be in full work, etc.) Well, to hell with all that. What you really SHOULD be doing is having a good time. The trick is figuring out how not to beat yourself up once you figure out what it is you really want (or need) to do.

Mark is great, isn't he? :) I loved reading the Lipazzaner story.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like you might have been having a case of the nerves, thinking about what everyone will think of your riding and training abilities. I hope you didn't dwell on that too much, none of us is perfect and neither are our horses. If they were we wouldn't take lessons, go to clinics, get nervous etc.

I hope your next epiphany is that you are a good rider.