This is a post from my horseforum.com thread that I started when I got Max. I’m so lucky the forum is still around and I was able to go back and add it to Lipizzan Life.
My vision of being an equestrian, enjoying long trail rides with my loyal steed and working together in the ring to conquer competitive endeavors, has materialized as a disconnected experience.
I understand that both rider and horse strive to connect their respective bodies, head to toe. Of course, they then learn to connect with each other. In the beginning, because of inexperience and lack of physical shape, they are disconnected and imbalanced. That is how my horse experience feels right now. I have my lessons, and then I have my horse.
I feel like I am mediocre at best in my lessons. I bought an exceptional horse. I can’t do anything except bond with my exceptional horse, because I’m not good enough to ride him. He’s very sensitive and ready to take on the world, and I’m this incapable mess that would just toss around on his back and pull his mouth and kick him on accident.
Why did I buy such an exceptional horse? It was one of those moments in life you don’t pass up. You meet someone (animals are someones too), and you know that it was meant to be. You take the leap and say “yes, destiny, I do” I was not going to buy a horse. I was going to lease a sleepy, toe dragging beginner horse, and progress through horses as I gradually got better.
Destiny had other plans. Now I have my exceptional horse, out in the pasture, learning his own lessons as he adjusts to a new herd and new style of training. I think it makes me feel better to know that he is adjusting and learning, too. I would feel so much worse if he was just sitting and regressing while I got my act in gear.
I had this conversation with myself when I bought him.
“Self, this horse is obviously amazing and will win every dressage competition he enters, with the proper training and riding. You can’t even trot without falling on your face. Why are you doing this?”
“Well, you see Self, this is a once in a lifetime moment and we have to seize the day, ride destiny, and trust the future that is in store for us. Plus, how long could it possibly take to catch up in riding skill? A month? A few months? Even a year? What is that in the grand scheme of things, compared to missing out on this which was meant to be?”
“You know what, Self, whatever. You’re not going to listen. You never listen. And that’s fine; because I just exist to goad you along with ‘I told you so’s’ in order to motivate you to accomplish some ridiculous goal out of sheer spite for my prudence.”
I have been trotting, since my first lesson, almost two months ago. My dream of riding my beautiful horse, down a gilded trail of fall leaves and fragrant wild flowers, gets harder to envision with each bouncy half-way-but-not-really post.
I keep telling myself that each bouncy half-way-but-not-really post carries me closer to my dream. Lately, it has been in a shaky, half hysterical way. One of those, “if I keep saying it, I might believe it”, mantras. I am so tired of posting. I am so tired of failing.
It feels like a torture session, where I go into a ring and fail. One two one two one two fail two one fail one fail fail fail stop sigh one two one two horse tossing her head and stopping, me squeezing and yelling trot, me falling forward, one two one, me not being in the right position, one two one two.
I went to my lesson today with the goal of embracing the forward movement. I told myself that I wasn’t going to fall off, shuffling around the ring at a trot, and the worse that could happen was some bouncing and being off the beat. I was just going to do it — go forward, and forward, and forward, and around, and forward. However stupid and sloppy it was, I was going to just do it.
That worked for a few minutes; a few times around the ring. I even lasted through a few horse-head-was-up-and-now-it’s down-by-her-feet-but-i-must-stay-balanced-and-GO. I even lasted through “squeeze, you aren’t squeezing, kick her, kick her, come on! Good! Now she’s going!” (and my legs are somewhere back in make the horse go land, so I must travel back to make the horse go land, find my legs, put them under me…and now the horse needs a reminder to go again… cry)
I lasted. My teacher told me to be happy, that I was doing it, and it was such a big step up.
Well, this is the problems with steps, they never end.
Inner leg fail. I wasn’t holding my upper,forward,inner thigh against the saddle. My teacher put my legs in the right spot, put a leaf under each leg, and told me to trot. I couldn’t get my lower legs anywhere near the horse to cue her. As soon as I tried anything of the sort, my leg rolled out of position and the leaf fell. It was so confusing, I just wanted to scream. My lower legs feel like they stick straight out away from the horse when I am in the correct position. I told myself that I just needed some sleep and rest and aleve, after having trotted for so long already, to absorb this information. I’m still stumped and defeated.
My feet were sliding around in the stirrups, and I would lose them. This mostly happened after I had been trotting for awhile. The stirrups are the right length. My teacher even moved them a hole and told me I could move them back when I was better. I didn’t let it bug me at first, because I was holding on with my legs anyway, and the stirrup would come back into place if I just kept going. As the lesson fell apart in my mind, however, every little thing just paralyzed me and the stirrup fails got more and more mind consuming.
My reins. Just. God, that poor horse’s mouth. I usually try to focus more on being good to her mouth. I didn’t this time. I just tried my best to give her the space she needed to keep going forward. Every once in awhile, though, the teacher would let me know I was being a jerk on her mouth. If I had me on my back, I would have thrown myself off and stomped all over my face.
I don’t even remember what else. Those just hang over my head like an angry wasp nest. Buzzing in my ears and my face, stinging me over and over.
I felt like I had to relax and go with the horse. I felt like I was too caught up in the “how to” to actually do. So I did. And I messed up the “how to” completely. Does that mean I actually did? Or is it just a sloppy attempt to rush through?
I have to keep going. I have an amazing horse, who loves me and loves his training, just waiting on me to get to his level. I have this vast expanse of quicksand in front of me, blocking my dream experience with my dream horse. I have to pull myself through each step to get to the other side. My self doubt, my body’s lack of proper tone, my complete inexperience on horseback. I pushed myself into this position. I could have kept this as a bi-weekly-tee-hee-hobby; but, I pushed myself into a high level of expectation. It hurts, and it sucks, and it makes me rage at myself. In the end, I would rather push, hurt, rage, than be mediocre forever. Do I want to be eternally trotting? No.
One day I’m going to passage all over that **** ring. I’m going to do it.