Today I took my first official lesson with my trainer on my pony, Walle the Belflinger. Up until now we’ve kind of just been slowly rehabbing him from his injury, trying to establish that steering and rhythm are a thing that he has to just accept, and essentially reminding the pony that his year off was NOT a retirement, contrary to what he believed. When I first adopted him in the dead of winter last year we had some atrocious weather…so official training never got around to beginning before he went and injured himself.
The last few rides we’ve had have been….sub par. I am a self-admitted *un-talented* rider. And I don’t mean that I’m a *bad* rider persay….however I was not blessed with a natural ability in the saddle. Unfortunately this translates to when I ride alone, I rarely am able to accomplish a goal. I start with one, get frustrated, pony gets frustrated, and then I give up and do something that I KNOW we’re good at simply to end on a good note and not have a sour pony (or a sour me). After our last ride I am ashamed to say that I became intensely frustrated. Fortunately I am self aware enough to quit while I’m ahead. I apologized to my boy, we finished with a little loose rein canter (his favorite), a little walk in the woods, and then I promptly signed up for a lesson.
So we had a wonderful lesson with my trainer who is endlessly patient. Her years of riding and training, her love for OTTB’s and restarting them off the track along with the fact that she continues to take lessons and learn in order to improve her own talent supplies me with an endless amount of respect as well as trust in her. There is not much I value more than having a trusted horse person on the ground while I’m riding to tell me what I should be doing and how to do it, and to catch me in my unfortunate moments and help me correct them. That is worth it’s weight in gold as far as I’m concerned.
So here’s the thing with Walle. Walle does not steer. Walle does not like the outside aids, Walle does not like the inside aids. Walle does not like the crop, Walle does not like spurs. Walle DOES love running pell mell at any jump in sight and trying to fly over it like a bat out of hell. (His hashtag is #wallethedestroyer for a reason). But with my trainer’s patient optimism and pointers I finally finished a ride feeling optimistic about the possibility of my pony and I maybe actually doing something someday instead of finishing a ride thinking, “Well…..at least we can always do trails!” Please don’t get me wrong, I am the ultimate *ride because you love it* gal. But sometimes you just like to dream. I would be perfectly happy if all I was ever destined to do was trail ride. As long as I can have horses in my life, I consider myself lucky.
By the end of our lesson we were trotting in relatively straight lines, reaching a *little* for the bit, picking our feet up over trot poles, and had even accomplished some canter poles. He did throw himself sideways at another horse in the ring which received some serious outside aids and some crop action…to which I received my first serious sassy pony buck in return! One of those moments you just wish you had a camera. Ain’t even mad!
There is nothing I love more than a great lesson. Obviously I don’t ride with my trainer every time I’m on my horse. But I greatly value the ability to ask someone that I trust implicitly to help me and my boy move forward and excel. There’s a saying out there somewhere, and I feel it applies heavily to riding as a whole. I don’t remember it word for word, but essentially it says
“The more you think you know, the more you have to learn. The less you think you have to learn, the less you truly know.”
And when all is said and done, you can never learn too much! Am I right folks?!