My Last Lesson
I have been waiting for this day, the day when I would have my last scheduled weekly riding lesson. When I was driving to the barn, I kind of felt like a kid on the last day of school before summer vacation. I wasn’t as sad as I thought I would be though, in preparation for my last lesson.
Today’s plan was to ride Murphy. This was a great way to end my lessons. If you have been following my lessons for any amount of time, you have probably noticed I really like to ride Murphy. He is very quiet, but a little bit of a challenge when I am in the saddle. He likes to see what he can get away with from his rider, and will try to push you from time to time. But his gaits are very smooth, and he is much easier to ride than Ringo.
So getting to the barn and finding out I would be riding Murphy was awesome.
And my riding instructor was back from her vacation, so I would get to do what I am used to doing each week. She has been making it fun for me by making little ‘jump courses’ by using ground poles. And this week she really challenged me!
Walk, Trot, Canter
After a wardrobe malfunction, I had put a riser pad on Murphy and he didn’t need it. So every time I rose out of the saddle, it pitched me forward. I felt like I had just started riding again! But we stopped, took of the pad and replaced it with a very fancy half pad. I learned that the owner of the barn sells them too. She has a lot of side projects, and I usually end up purchasing the things she sells, because I like them, but for now I need to refrain….
The color was a little bright for me, but the pad was awesome! And after I was back on Murphy we proceeded with our walk trot and canter in both directions of the arena.
We also spent a brief amount of time in sitting trot, and this is something I really need to work on! Even with Murphy’s smooth gaits, sitting trot was a challenge. So once I am recovered enough to begin riding again, I will be spending a lot of time in sitting trot.
Mini Jump Courses
And this is where the fun began. The girls in the lesson before me had been jumping over a nice course of about 6 jumps in the arena. I had a chance to walk around them and inspect them while someone else had stolen my instructor to discuss, something, I am not really sure of what because I don’t like eavesdropping on other’s conversations. I find it interesting that parent’s of lesson kids think it’s ok to steal the instructor away after their kids lesson. Sometimes I feel like saying “Hey parent, your kid had their time with her, you had time to discuss whatever while your kid was untacking. You are taking my trainer away from me, which is time I paid for, so give me back my instructor!”
Even though I wanted to say that, I didn’t, but I thought it! But back to my jump course.
Murphy and I walked around the arena, instructor-less, and I checked out the jumps, and admired the new angles of how the jumps were set up. 3 of them were on the straight, and 2 were on a diagonal, and one was set up so you would have to take the jump at a sharp corner. I had no idea of how to maneuver through the set up.
And after I had done my flat work portion of my lesson, she had lowered all of the jumps down to ground poles. (Thank you dear instructor!)
Riding Through A Ground Rail Course
Even though the poles had all been lowered to the ground, I was still able to ‘ride’ a course. I had to concentrate on keeping Murphy going over the center of the ‘jump’, and also had to get him set up correctly for the jump. It doesn’t matter if the poles are on the ground, or 3 foot tall. The mission is the same, get the horse over the center of the jump, keep him moving forward, and look to the next jump.
Going over the center of the jump helps to set you up for what’s coming next. This is where you organize yourself for what’s coming next. And learning when to turn is important too. For Murphy, knowing precisely when you need to turn to set up the next jump is very important because he has 2 fused vertebrae in his neck. This means he can’t turn or bend like most horses can.
The ground pole course is every bit as beneficial for me as it would be if I were truly jumping. When my balance gets better, and my lower leg is more stable, the jumping portion will come.
What I have Learned
I am so grateful to my instructor for what she has given me in my lessons, a renewed level of confidence. I no longer dread cantering. And even though the true jumping portion of my lesson eludes me, I have confidence over ground poles, and lots of information I can continue to work on while I prepare to jump a course of jumps.
I know how to be on the correct diagonal, she didn’t have to correct me at all this lesson. I was able to stay on the correct diagonal most of the time. And I know how to move the horse off my leg, and get him to bend without relying on my reins. I also feel comfortable at home riding my own horses, even Ethan. That says a lot!
Will I Continue My Lessons?
These weekly lessons have been so valuable for me. Will I continue my lessons when I have recovered from surgery? I am not sure. I love going to the lesson barn. I love what I learn, and riding in an indoor arena. But I think I have enough to go on and to work on for a while. I can video record my riding at home, and continue to work on what I have already learned. I can continue to be a more confident rider while I work on my leg, and balance.
Time will tell, but for now I think I will wait with returning to my lessons. This thought could change, but for now I am happy with what my lessons have provided. Maybe when I am ready to advance even further I will go back to my weekly riding lesson.
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