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.