My mom has always been my largest source of support with my riding endeavours. Years of Pony Club, horse shows, farrier and vet appointments, you name it, she was there.
Last September, on her 50th birthday, I decided that it was high time that she get in the saddle and try riding Traveller. She always liked riding our other horse, and Traveller is very calm and safe in the arena. Although I don’t think I was that harsh, she seems to remember it differently!
Without further ado, here is part two of her first experience riding Traveller. You can find part one here.
Part 2- Getting into the Saddle
Well, this is it. The horse is tacked up, my helmet is on, I’m standing on the mounting block and then, “Oh great Mom, what kind of shoes are you wearing?” My favourite running shoes, of course. Opps. I know everybody will cringe, and yes a friend did point out she was disappointed in my shoe choice. Keara said that I could not ride in them, but putting her on ignore, I jumped (ok lumbered) on Traveller and said, “You just watch me!” Keara was not pleased, but knew enough not to push it… so instead of berating me, she just took my stirrups away. Oh great, nervous and stirrupless, I was ready for my first lesson.
Poor Traveller was in for a confusing hour. As a Pony Club Mom, I have always sat in the stands watched my kids’ lessons thinking: “How can they listen to all the instructor is saying, do what they say, and not fall off the horse? Left leg. Right rein. Heels Down. Thumbs up. UGH!!” Keara started with, “Okay Mom, just get him to walk. It’s easy, just give him a little kick and he will walk.” I kick him, click my tongue and bounce a little. Traveller wonders why his licorice mama is on him, and how she got so dumb. His response was to treat me like an oversized baby with small, halting, cautious steps. So I kick a bit harder and he shoots off into a slow trot. I’m flopping in the saddle with no glad handle, yelling WHOA, legs and arms sending this poor horse all kind of signals! Keara gets us stopped and calms us both down. “Now, you had no contact with your legs,” she tells me. What the…?! Contact? What do you mean?! Rolling her eyes (she really did. Very mean, I thought) she said, “You sat through how many lessons (seems like millions) and nothing stuck? Wow we will have to start from scratch.”
Keep a slight contact on the reins, keep your legs on the horse and squeeze to move him forward, keep your arms bent and relaxed, hold the reins this way…… on and on. This is a lot of work, my legs are tired my arms are tired, BUT he is actually listening to me!!! Keara has me go over ground rails, through pole paths, and I have to say, it was getting kinda fun. She set out a blue tarp for us to walk over, and Traveller just stepped around it since it is not his favorite thing to walk on. She tells me to go around again and to close my legs and think about making a chute with the reins. Wow, it worked! At my excitement, she, once again, rolled her eyes at me and said, “I do get paid to teach people how to do this.”
Finally, we took a relaxing walk to the trees to cool down and get some pictures. My first lesson with Traveller had come to an end. I truly did enjoy my ride, it is a lot of hard work and I have so much to learn. I was sore in places that I didn’t even know existed, but all in all, it was a blast.
I plan to continue to learn to ride in my 6th decade maybe even jump. Look out Captain Canada, here I come!!!