Riding Diary – 10/28/21

A baptism by fire is still a baptism, right?

Many new things happened during this lesson.

I rode in the middle of a group lesson with about five other riders in the ring. Not a problem, but more to keep track of.

A cold front brought intense winds, so the entire barn was rattling with spooky monsters according to Riley.

I went in with a sparkling attitude, brimming with excitement and optimism. Truly, this is the best I’ve ever felt going into a ride.

I fell off.

Improvements & Deficits

First off, my attitude was fantastic and something I’ve wanted to improve most in my riding. I was fearless and it felt like floating. This was supposed to be my first lesson incorporating jumps. Unlike in the past, I knew I was going to ride a solid schoolmaster. Riding a horse appropriate for your skill level does wonders for the confidence, funnily enough. Prior the ride, I did some homework. I read up on the finer points of equitation and studied videos of riders whose style I wanted to emulate.

That attitude would prove useful later.

Despite giving everything a fearful look in the barn, Riley settled quickly into the lesson. I had a few moments of not retaining directives well as I tried to monitor where the other riders in the ring were. It was a bit overwhelming, but overall it was a nice ride.

We set up some trot poles on the quarter line to practice two-point. We did this three times, each time feeling like I improved what I needed to and excited to jump.

Then, a nearby dumpster lid caught the wind and launched upward. Riley launched to the right. I launched off.

It was as safe a fall as a fall can be. A tweaked muscle in my shoulder was quickly remedied by PT Husband. Physically, I was absolutely fine, hallelujah. I got back on immediately, made some jokes and picked up the canter again to end on a positive note.

Emotionally, I was incredibly disappointed. It was deflating to put so much positive preparation into an experience, but quickly turn into a disappointing, embarrassing event. Once the ride was over and I’d put Riley up, I began cleaning tack.

There’s something about the repetitive motions and structure of tack cleaning. It can either quiet your thoughts or force you to dive into them. Almost immediately, I felt the prick of tears behind my eyes. My throat tightened. Oh, dear.

One strategy I’ve developed to counteract my mental, negative self-talk is verbal, positive self-talk. I told myself, “We are allowed to cry in the car, but not here. Finish the work.” Once in the car and out of the driveway, I started talking myself through it. I’m sure I look like I’m having a mental episode, where I’m literally entertaining two conversations, both parties being me.

In truth, it’s incredibly cathartic. I expressed my disappointment of not getting to jump. I understood the emotions and soothed the loss with gratitude for the experience. I was disappointed that I would be gone the next week for work and wouldn’t get to jump back into it. I allowed the disappointment to be there, but also expressed gratitude for having such a perfect job that allows me to work from home. I felt the embarrassment of falling in front of people perhaps less than I would have in my teenage years. I think the desire to impress people has tempered to a healthier level. A very kind teenager in the lesson quickly came up to me after mounting again and immediately said, “That was such a graceful fall.” We were able to joke and smile in that moment, lightening it for everyone.

This Time & Next Time

This time, I learned the constant lesson that comes with horses: relish the wins and expect the losses. I had many positives this lesson, most noticeably my endurance and positive attitude and I don’t want those to be minimized.

Next time, I’d like to focus on keeping my seat the focus of my position, rather than balancing on my toes. I do think this contributed partly to my fall. I’d like to keep the same goals for my jumping position.

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