Passion Never Rusts

In my effort to fully immerse myself in everything horse this week, in preparation of possibly taking a lesson, I’ve been going through my “horse stuff”. It’s a box I brought from home, my South Carolina home, with some of the stuff I thought I might need, should I have the chance to ride while I’m out here in the Wild West.

A couple of months ago when I first got the idea to start riding again I tried on my riding clothes. Unfortunately my extra slim calf field boots no longer fit. They were a pair of Ariat Heritages, I know they aren’t the fanciest boots but I loved them, they were magical. There was no hope of ever fitting in them again, I honestly don’t want to be that skinny anymore. So I bit the bullet and listed them on eBay. It was a quick sale. I’m sad that they don’t make these boots anymore. I’ll have to wear paddock boots and half chaps this weekend, I’m not happy about this. At least they fit. My half chaps used to be so large on my legs that I would have to were multiple thick, long socks. Now; they are snug.

The next thing was breeches. The last time I tried any of my breeches on, they were all too small, so I had low hope of finding a comfortable pair. I love breeches. I haven’t ridden in a pair of jeans since I was 16 and I refuse to endure that ever again. They’re so uncomfortable. I have an old pair of Ariat breeches that used to be too big, and I always hated how they were high rise. I tried them on today, though, and they actually fit. They’re a little snug, but at this point it’s good enough. I’m even kind of digging the high rise now, it’s almost like a sense of security – everything is tucked away.

A lot of my other equipment is not in great shape. For some reason, I had it in my head that everything would stay in the same condition since I wasn’t using it. I was totally wrong. Everything is rusty, falling a part, or just lost forever.

My poor dear helmet. I wore this thing for a while and then fell off three times in one day at a show. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hit my head, but you know the rule. I bought a Charles Owen Wellington after that, and this Hampton Hat became a decoration. The last time I started riding, back in 2013, I couldn’t find my Wellington anywhere. I rode with the Hampton and hoped for the best. It looks like the foam is disintegrating. Has anyone ever seen anything like this? This helmet is probably 7 or 8 years old. Oh my Lord.

At some point while riding Morgan, my instructor instructed me to use a set of Tom Thumbs. After a while she told me to invest in a pair of Prince of Wales. Now I have one Tom Thumb, a set of Prince of Wales, and one that’s slightly longer and more curved that’s the PoW. And three straps. What? I’ve bought two sets. I’m so confused.

My gloves. These gloves were amazing. Does anyone remember when Tailored Sportsman made gloves? They weren’t very popular, but I loved them! Unfortunately they didn’t hold up very well and I ended up buying a bunch of pairs. This is the nicest set I have left, they’re kind of crunchy. Ew.

Bonus round! I have the Ariat helmet bag, boot bag, and garment bag from 2007. This helmet bag smells horrible! Can I wash it in the washing machine? Is there a special way to clean it? Should I just invest in new stuff and stop expecting things to last the rest of my life? Thanks for reading!


Picking Up Where I Left Off

It’s been nearly three years since I last rode a horse, or wrote in my blog. I just spent the past 30 minutes re-reading every blog entry, so I could start up where I left off.

First things first; the trainer and barn I was taking lessons with became very shady and never called me back. I heard they went out of business, but who knows. BT, the amazing lady that was letting me work with her ponies, left for Colorado. I stopped riding after my last blog entry, because there was nowhere else to ride. By the end of that year, 2014; I had enlisted in the military. I left for basic training at the beginning of 2015 and have been in training ever since.

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetDuring the past two years I’ve moved to Texas, then again to New Mexico, which is where I’ll be stuck for the next four years. I also met an amazing man, we’ve been together since basic training and became best friends. Our relationship grew strong, and just last month, November 5, we tied the knot. He’s very supportive of everything I do, and we’re so lucky to have found each other.

New Mexico is great horse country; lots of horse people, amazing barns, fantastic arenas. THEY’RE ALL WESTERN. Don’t get me wrong, I like western! I’m from the Deep South, I should’ve been a western rider. But I’m not. Finding a hunter barn in rodeo country is quite a task.

A couple months I volunteered at the state Special Olympics rodeo, which was phenomenal. While I was there I met a lady who is an eventer, not the same as hunter/jumper but she totally understands my struggle. We’ve became very good friends and have tried searching long and hard for a lesson barn. There are some amazing barns in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, 3 hours away. Also a couple potential places in west Texas, which are only two hours away. However, I got a message from my friend saying she found a place that teaches hunter on flat and has lesson horses, and it’s only ten minutes from here. No indoor arena, but apparently a nice outdoor. I’m not shooting for the moon but still really hoping for a miracle with this place. We’re going to check it out this Saturday, so until then I’ll be trying to sort out my riding clothes.

A Very Forgettable Day

A few years ago I developed a bump on my head. I went to the doctor and he explained that sometimes hair follicles get infected and cause a bump, or something like that. He gave me antibiotics and it went away. It came back in the same spot about two years ago, it never caused a problem so I never went to the doctor. However, after riding 10 hours last week, my helmet irritated it and caused it to become very swollen. It hurt so much that I couldn’t touch that side of my head. I had no choice but to go to the doctor. I had to wait a few days for the swelling to go down, but today I was finally able to ride again! The doctor had told me to be careful about going out in the sun, because it could cause me to get a rash while taking antibiotics. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem today because it was overcast and freezing!

I decided to ride Jolly again today. So BT got on a horse named Freckles and we went for a nice long hack. My head was still very swollen and my helmet was putting a lot of pressure on my lump. I remember going for a hack, but I honestly can’t remember anything specific that happened during the ride. I do recall the fact that I was freezing, as in I was literally shaking while we rode. After our hack I tapped out. I was too cold to go on, and when I took my helmet off I was so dizzy and lightheaded I thought I was gonna pass out or throw up.

My trainer still never texted me back. I still haven’t been gotten to take another lesson, its been almost a month since my last lesson. I’ve decided to stop trying to contact the guy anymore. Clearly there’s no place for me at their barn. I love riding BT’s ponies, but I really want to take lessons. I think it’s important to keep learning, no matter how good you get. Its hard to find hunter/jumper barns around here that have lessons horses though. That’s my main issue. But, we’ll see what happens next!

A Horse Should Just be a Horse

I got out to the barn a little late today, so I only had time to ride one pony. BT asked if I wanted to ride Tulip, a medium grey, Welsh pony. She’s the cutest little pony! We got mounted and went for a quick hack around the lake. The logging company is still cutting trees, so BT told me to pay attention; Tulip is young and a bit spooky. The entire ride she was a bit looky, but for a young pony, she was bombproof! I know very old, very well trained show horses that would have left their riders high and dry if they had been on the trail with all that commotion going on in the woods. I’m more and more impressed with BT’s horses every time I go to her barn. They need conditioning and flatwork, but they all have wonderful conformation. They’re all healthy, well maintained and cared for. They’re all basically bombproof, no bucking, no bad habits. They’re horses, they act like horses. No diva show horses that are scared of their own shadow. No temperamental fancy horses that get hurt or sick at the drop of a hat. They’re all just horses!

After our short hack, we went to the ring. BT told me I could take Tulip over a few fences if I’d like, and she agreed to film me again. I could tell Tulip is young, she jumps great and is very brave to the fences, but her steering and balance leave a lot for improvement. We did a few small, unimpressive courses at a trot. She was all over the place with the approach, I know a lot of these problems have to do with me, but I can tell she needs a lot of steering work. I forgot to mention, this bombproof, brave to fences pony is a 5 year old who was only started under saddle this summer. I’d say she’s doing pretty great to be inexperienced! I wish all green ponies were as easy as her.

My trainer finally responded to my text. He told me I’d be able to come out for a lesson either that Saturday or Monday of next week. I told him I was busy that Saturday, but I was free Monday and asked what time he wanted me to come. Unfortunately I haven’t heard from my trainer since. I’m still waiting for his response.

A Day Full of Ponies

Even though I was sore and exhausted from the fox hunt yesterday, I headed back out to BT’s barn to work some ponies.

We decided to take Jolly and BT’s horse out for a hack. I like working in the ring where it’s easy to focus, but working outside on the trails is a great way to condition the horses. The main thing her ponies need is conditioning since they haven’t been in consistent work for a while.

There’s a logging company, cutting trees and leveling things out, back deep in the woods. They’ve got the place in a huge mess, so we kept running out of places to ride. After about half an hour, we headed back to the ring. I did a little flatwork with Jolly, before popping him over a few fences. He really loves to jump, I could tell yesterday at the fox hunt. Every time the group would go to a jump he would perk up and get excited! After we passed a few jumps, that day, he got really frustrated. I figured I’d make it up to him today by letting him go over a few jumps. Since we were taking it easy, we just trotted over a few small fences, but he really seemed to enjoy it! I asked BT if she’d film us jumping with my phone. After watching myself ride, I must say I’ve got a lot of work to do!

We finished with Jolly and Blaze, then mounted right back up. This time I was on a big, black mare named Brianna. BT rode Trick Me Not, the other pony that went hunting with us. We took these two for a hack too, but just a light trot around the closest lake so we’d avoid the loggers. As soon as we started trotting it felt like Bri was slightly lame. BT said she couldn’t see it, but told me that Bri had been out of work for a while. After a little bit of trotting she felt better, but I didn’t wanna push it. We headed back to the barn and I put Bri away.

BT asked me if I wanted to school Trick in the ring, since he didn’t get much of a work out. I hopped on and we walked out to the ring. I rode in BT’s saddle and didn’t adjust the stirrups, they were really long but I figured it wasn’t a big deal since we were just doing flatwork. Trick is a very flashy little bay, I had assumed he was some breed of pony. While I was schooling him, BT told me he was actually a Thoroughbred who was trained to be a race horse, he had 9 starts and never did well. I can’t imagine why, he’s so short! But he’s absolutely adorable! I really liked the way he moved, but he was pretty unbalanced and didn’t bend very well. We worked for a while, doing circles and serpentines. He seemed more interested in the jumps. I think its great to jump, but without good flatwork your trip isn’t going to look very nice, no matter how well he jumps or how good your equitation is.

BT and I talked a little, after my ride. I explained to her that I’d really like to work on getting the ponies going good on the flat and she really liked that idea.
I’m still trying to schedule a lesson with my trainer, but he hasn’t responded to any of my texts.

Who Cares What The Fox Says

Rise and shine, its 4:30am! What was I doing up at this unreasonable hour? What any normal person does before the sun comes up on a Wednesday morning; getting ready to go fox hunting! But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start from the beginning.

Over the summer, one of my friends put me in contact with a lady (I’ll refer to her as BT). She has a farm in the next town over, with some VERY nice ponies! She needed help keeping the ponies in consistent work, and was interested in having me ride for her. I went to her barn, but with going to school full time and working full time, I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to riding. This week I decided to contact her and find out if she was still looking for help keeping the ponies in shape, she was ecstatic. I still wanna take lessons, but I figured the extra riding would help me get back in shape quicker since I only take one lesson a week. The day I contacted BT, she told me she and another girl were going to a fox hunt the next day and invited me to join. Fox hunting isn’t something I’ve ever been interested in trying, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance for a new experience.

Now that you’re all caught up, lets get back to the break of dawn. I had asked BT, the day before, what I should wear. I don’t have a white show shirt or stock tie, so I went with a white with blue stripes show shirt. I also went with my heavily hated, heavy black wool show coat. Luckily, I still had one pair of tan breeches, I don’t like wearing them because they’re midrise and too big.

I had no idea what to expect, so BT gave me a quick run down on the way to the hunt. The place where we parked was my lesson barn. I had texted my trainer a couple of times since my last lesson and he hadn’t been able to schedule me in. While we unloaded our ponies and started grooming, I couldn’t help but keep looking over at the empty barn. I let my mind race with questions, wondering if maybe the trainer was annoyed with me after I refused to lesson on Parker again. I wondered if he would be mad that I started riding with another barn and didn’t tell them. I realized how dumb I was being, my trainer is a really reasonable guy and would probably be happy that I was trying to get in riding shape quick. I turned my attention back to Jolly, my mount for the day. He’s an adorable large Paint pony. We rushed to get ready, but kept taking short breaks so BT could introduce me to all the hunt people. The parking lot was over flowing with rigs, there were a lot more people there than I expected.

As soon as the three of us got mounted on our ponies, we headed across the road to the kennels. We waited there for at least 20 minutes, letting other riders catch up, and letting all of us get nice and frozen. There were 3 groups of riders, we were in what was called first field. This group stayed right with the hounds and they jumped every fence we came across.

As soon as they released the hounds, we were off! We started trotting and I don’t believe we stopped the entire ride. Right as we were getting into the woods, BT’s pony decided Jolly wad too close so she kicked out, but instead of getting him she hit my ankle. At this point I was completely numb from the cold, so I didn’t notice the pain too much. About an hour into the ride, we started coming up on jumps. BT had told me that the jumps were 3’3 and higher, but that there was a path around every jump. I decided before we ever mounted that I’d be taking the path around the jumps. Don’t confuse this with me being nervous, I believe the pony would have no issues and I know I’m capable of doing it when I’m in shape. However, I think its important for every rider to know their limits. In a situation like this it would’ve been very irresponsible for me to go galloping up to a huge fence, land in a heap and fall off. This was only my fifth time back in the saddle in years, and BT completely understood that.

After over two hours of trotting, with no foxes in sight, I was done. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes from my ankle hurting so much. Every trot stride was agony. I explained to BT and she said we could head back to the trailer. I think she and the other rider were both ready to get back as well. From where we were, it took us an hour to get back to the trailer.

It was such a long day, but we had tons of fun! Even though its not really my thing, I thought it was a great experience!

The Stead Of The Week

Today, the question of what to wear to my lesson was simple; lots of clothes. The temperature for the day never reached above 40 degrees. I wore a thick sweater, a fleece jacket and a wind jacket on top. I went with the bleu breeches because, out of the few pairs I own, I think they’re the thickest. I assume its because they’re the least worn.

I arrived at the barn and was anxious to meet my stead of the week, since Striker went away to lead change boot camp. My ride for today was Parker. He’s a 4 year old, BIG Quarter Horse. They told me one more thing about Parker before I mounted up, he’s a western pleasure horse. I’ve never ridden a western trained horse, but for some reason I had it in my head that it was going to be an easy, quiet ride.

As soon as I got up in the saddle, I realized just how big Parker actually is! It felt like I was doing a split the entire lesson. While wd walked, my trainer set all the jumps to found poles and explained the exercise I’d be doing later. The point of the exercise was to work on learning distances. The object is to canter the ground poles and count, out loud, the last three strides to the pole. I was super excited about this exercise! Its so simple, yet it seemed so effective.

We began working at the trot, he was smooth but his gait felt odd. Not lame, just different than what I’m used to. We started trotting over cavaletti. It went smooth the first few times. Then the trainer decided to spread the cavaletti to make him reach more. Parker thought it’d be easier to canter and jump the poles, and I just wasn’t strong enough to convince him otherwise, even though we tried many times.

After the cavaletti disaster, we moved on to working at the canter. I set him up for the canter transition, but when I asked for the departure; he broke into a fast trot. I got this result for a while, I felt like the worst rider ever! All the barn girls were in the ring, watching my lesson, including Parker’s usual rider. We cooled off and walked a minute. I asked again, this time I was successful. He cantered heavy on his forehand, and even though I was in a half seat, he was pulling me out of the tack. At this point im freezing, shaking like crazy and I can’t feel my legs. He kept breaking gait, popping back into a canter, then breaking gait again. It was tough to keep my leg on him, especially with him pulling me down every stride. We cantered the opposite lead, he was pretty hot at this point. He wanted to gallop, he was so heavy in his front. His canter felt so downhill and he wouldn’t respond to my half halts. When I finally got him down to a walk I made it very clear I didn’t wanna canter again. The trainer told me to do a little more trot work, but he decided it was best if we called it a day. Parker was too worked up and hot, he kept trying to canter instead of trotting. I dismounted in the ring and walked Parker back to the barn with his rider.

She and I talked for a while. The girl (I feel bad that I’ve already forgot her name) explained that Parker does the same stuff with her that he tried in the lesson. She told me that it took her a long time to get used to the way he goes, and that she still has a hard time. I liked Parker, he was pretty, I just don’t think I’m suitable to ride a very young, green horse. I thought I had made that pretty clear in the times I had talked to the trainer before hand. When I walked back down to the ring to talk to the trainer, he assured me I would get a long better next time with Parker now that I had felt how he went. I assured him there wouldn’t be a next time. He seemed taken aback by my refusal to ride him again. I understand that the trainer calls the shots and knows best, but in this case I strongly believe I don’t need to be on a green horse. After my trainer realized I was serious, I believe he understood. He agreed to put me on someone else for the next lesson.

After this week, all I can think about is how much I can’t wait to ride Striker again!

What’s Your Alternative?

The morning of our lesson, I woke up to a text from Taylor, explaining the excuses why riding isn’t in her best interest right now and that she wouldn’t be going to the lesson. Rather than try to reason with her I simply said “ok”. After that, I turned my attention to my wardrobe struggle. I still haven’t had time to go shopping for riding clothes, so for now I’m stuck wearing my children’s breeches and trying to find riding appropriate shirts in my closet. Don’t get me wrong, the clothes I own are conservative. However, its hard to ride in shirts that are excessively loose or long. Today, I settled for a fitted black sweater and the gray kids breeches. Its was a little warm for a sweater, but I couldn’t bring myself to wear a t-shirt again.

I got to the barn and was surprised to see how busy it was, its usually pretty empty in the morning when I’m out there. I remembered they were all going to a schooling show the next day, so I figured they must be getting ready. However, when I went in the ring for my lesson, I soon realized I had a rather large audience. While I walked Striker around, my trainer told me the girls texted him saying I had the “perfect eq body”. We both laughed and he said “See you’ve already got fans”.

For the first time, since I started riding again, it felt like I had my leg back! I know I’m still far from being back in riding shape, but it felt good not to have my legs all over the place. I also didn’t lose my stirrups at all while we warmed up, which happened frequently in the first two lessons. I can feel myself slowly getting back to where I used to be, as far as equitation goes.

We warmed up over a few fences, like usual, then my trainer had me ride a few lines. I’m still having issues riding Striker to the distance I see, or staying with him during the distances he takes. Though, there were a few times when I was able to sit up, get him to a good spot and stay with him over the jump. At the end of the lesson, my trainer had me do half a course. It was a two stride outside line, then down the diagonal to a scary rolltop, then another outside line. It sounded easy but, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never jumped a roll top and that was enough to throw me off what little game I had. Regardless of my nerves, I gave it my best shot. The first outside line went pretty smoothly, then we got an awkward spot to the roll top. I got jumped out of the tack and kind of fell on his neck. It felt like I knocked the wind out of my chest. I didn’t sit up quickly enough after the roll top, so we did a circle, then took the next outside line. After this, we called it a day.

Sadly, this was my last lesson on Striker for an entire month. His owner is sending him to a dressage barn to learn his flying lead changes. Hopefully I will have improved over fences, by the time he gets back, so I can ride him more effectively.

When I got home, Taylor asked if I was mad at her for her decision not to ride. I told her “of course not”, but after we discussed it a little while, I realized she had the same fears I had. She didn’t wanna find out how much she’s forgotten and how much she still has to learn. I felt it was kind of fitting to pass on the words of my trainer, so I asked “What’s your alternative? Never ride again?”. This simple question seemed to have the same wake up effect on her, as it did me. After we talked a while longer she seems to have it back in her heart again to wanna ride. She’s one of the few people I know who feels the same way about horses as I do, and I’d really hate to see her give up on something I know she loves so much. Plus, its a lot more fun having my best friend with me through all this, instead of doing it alone.

Time to Stop Living in the Past

Looking my best has always been a big deal to me. Every lesson I’ve ever taken, its always been the same; hairnet, tucked in polo, belt, gloves and shiny boots. Unfortunately, after so many years of not riding, most of my polos and breeches have gone missing. I’m left with 3 pairs of hand-me-down children’s Riding Sport breeches, that are too big, in lovely shades of bleu, brown and gray. Then I have one polo left, which is what I wore to my first lesson. I never remember dressing for lessons, in the past, being such a struggle. Since the weather was so warm, I had no choice but to wear…a T-SHIRT. Taylor was supposed to ride in the lesson with me this time, but she canceled last minute.

During my first lesson, my legs were weak and I had a hard time keeping my heels down, boots rubbed big sores behind my knees. For this reason, I had no choice but to leave the very tops of my boots unzipped. This is something I’ve never had to do in my life.
Warming up was a little easier today, with no more bad canter transitions. I felt like I could keep my leg at the girth better, but my hands are still always in the wrong position. I don’t follow with my hands and I have a bad habit of locking my elbows.

We warmed up over a few small fences, then my trainer had me start doing some gymnastics. At first he put up a crossrail-bounce-crossrail, then to a 3 stride to a small vertical. Everytime we went through, he added more jumps and made everything progressively higher. By the end it was a crossrail-bounce-crossrail, then a one stride to a vertical, then a two stride to a big, scary oxer. Striker was such a champ for taking me through everytime, flawlessly! I’m still getting jumped out of the tack over every fence. Sticker’s jump is so massive and it doesn’t help that I see the distance I want, but I’m too weak to ride him to it.

After the lesson, while I cooled Striker out, my trainer and I talked about me just starting back riding. I told him the pain from being sore and weak sucks, but the worst part is knowing this all used to come easy. It hurts to think I threw away what skill I had and now I’m back to square one. I hate thinking how much further along I’d be right now if I hadn’t had to stop riding. I think that’s one of the reasons it took me so long to get started again. After all, nobody wants to find out how bad they’ve gotten, its easier to relive old memories when you were good. Without missing a beat, my trainer looked up at me and said “What’s the alternative? Never ride again?”. This man is wise beyond his years. It may seem like a simple, obvious question to everyone else but to me it was exactly what I hadn’t thought of. Now its time to stop living in the past, and start focusing on the future.

The Beginnings of a Re-Rider

Growing up as a pony kid in a hunter barn, my biggest fear was one day becoming an adult re-rider. What’s a re-rider? There’s always one lady, at every barn, that rode when she was younger. For one reason or another, she stopped riding. Now that she’s weak, out of shape and forgotten how to ride; she’s decided its the perfect time to start taking lessons again.

Well, that’s me. I’ve been riding as long as I can remember and I could never imagine how normal people lived without horses. I always gave up everything to be able to ride. I even tried to sell my bed one time when my parents told me we couldn’t afford lessons. The only time I ever stopped riding was when I had to wait for broken bones to heal, but even then I was still at the barn everyday. All the effort I had put into being able to ride over the years couldn’t prepare me for the biggest change of my life; college. I started college in the fall semester of 2010, and stopped riding shortly after.

Its now the end of 2013 and I’ve just graduated from college. This year I had made it my New Years resolution to start taking lessons again. I put it off all year, until my best friend, Taylor, put the idea back in my head. We grew up riding together, but she stopped riding a couple years before me. It seems a lot less impossible to start back knowing I have someone that’s gonna be there with me through it all.

I found a new lesson barn a lot closer to where we live than the last barn I rode at. I talked to the trainer and he said he’d prefer to have us ride separately for the first lesson. We went that Wednesday and Taylor rode. She rode really well considering its been so long since her last lesson. Even though the trainer agreed that she looked great, I could tell she wasn’t happy with the way she rode.

I went out for my lesson today, the following Tuesday. I went alone since Taylor had school. In my lesson I rode Striker, a gray Oldenburg who is ridiculously tall. I never graduated from riding ponies before I quit riding, so he was the biggest horse I’ve ever ridden. While the trainer adjusted my stirrups at the mounting block, Striker reached around and bit my elbow. I thought; what a great way to get started.

I got up in the saddle and noticed I forgot to zip my boots up. I sat there for a few moments trying to get my right boot to zip without success. Finally the trainer walked over and we tackled it together. Its been so long since I’ve worn my boots, I didn’t realize how much weight I’ve put on. After that little humiliating moment, the riding struggle set in almost immediately. Things that came naturally before now seem like the toughest tasks. Even posting was rather difficult. After a really embarrassing canter transition, I realized just how terrible I’ve gotten.

Once we were finally warmed up, the trainer set up some small fences and said “I wanna see what you look like over some jumps”. Reluctantly, I agreed. We started by trotting the small verticals, but it was like going over ground poles on such a massive horse. The trainer told me to start cantering to get him to actually jump the fences. Once Striker started jumping with effort, it became apparent that I flat out suck. Then the trainer told me to jump a vertical and rollback to another fence that was on the diagonal. I looked at what our approach was going to be and tried to make a plan in my head. Unfortunately the plan didn’t for see Striker taking an awkward distance to the first fence and me getting jumped out of the tack, which is exactly what happened. After landing from the first jump I didn’t sit up and look in time and we got very lost in our approach to the second fence, nevermind the failed rollback. When we reached the second jump, Striker simply said “nope”. He refused/ducked out. I went forward and came out the saddle when he threw on the brakes and somehow managed to hit the inside of my thigh on the pommel of the saddle. I stayed on and circled him back around and we popped over the fence with no issues this time. The trainer told me it was a nice recovery and all I could think to say back was “that’s what I’m the best at”. After we went through it again without any major mishaps, we called it a day.

I rode Striker back to the barn without thinking, forgetting that I saw everyone else get off in the ring last week. I hopped right off in front of the barn without a second thought, and fell. My knees gave out when I hit the ground and my right knee went right into his his knee. I hadn’t really realized just how tall Striker was, and my legs had gone numb during the lesson. Talk about an embarrassing thing for the trainer to see in a first lesson.

Bruises and embarrassing moments aside, I made it through my first lesson and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried.