The Return

Here’s a picture of my kitten in a halter

When I am on vacation there is always a side of me that misses my horse. While I miss the feeling of jumping I do not miss the endless leg days, knee pain, and cramping psoas. Coming back to riding after a five month break is like riding a bike. I can remember where everything goes and do the movements right, but I have to build up my stamina and courage especially when riding an inexperienced horse. I had to relearn what Essie felt like. I remember that if she’s smooth then she’s flat and that she likes to swing her haunches and she loves to skirt the corners, but I forget how she feels beneath my hands. I have to re-learn the simple actions that I could do unconsciously, the basic leg pressures and openings of the reins. Over my break, I naively thought she would overcome her fear of flowers because the trainer sent jumping videos and I noticed how smoothly Essie worked.

During my first lesson back, in the ring and over the polls, Essie stopped and bucked. She was testing me; trying to see what she could get away with, bluffing to see my reaction. With a green horse I have to remind myself that I have to be a firm guide. I cannot yell and hope that she does as told. I have to remember that she is insecure and that I need to be her biggest cheerleader. With green horses, I never have lofty goals. It’s a joke to think she won’t act up and a miracle if Essie makes it over all the jumps in the lesson’s course. So long as I don’t fall off, then I have had a great riding day. I have no expectations. I hope only that our ride will go smoothly, and if not there is always tomorrow.

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