I would be the hottest Arabian or Thoroughbred that you’ve ever met. Let me explain…
To begin my daily anecdote, I should preface by describing just how excited I was to ride today. I spent around an hour or so this afternoon watching instructional dressage DVDs. One was from dressageclinic.com and featured Steffan Peters schooling one of his Grand Prix mounts for 30 minutes. The other DVD was a super old school (and pretty hilarious, but also useful) one called The Classical Seat. In any case, after watching these videos I was really pumped for a good lesson tonight. I was ready to try out a few minor adjustments to my seat and posture to see how it would impact Gordon. However, all of my excitement disappeared when I walked into an incredibly windy arena tonight. The arena walls were swaying back and forth and the wind was whistling as if it was mid-winter.
As those of you who have been following my posts will know, Gordon can be spooky sometimes – particularly in the last few weeks as his grain has been upped to give him more energy for long show days, but he still isn’t getting ridden enough by his owner and I combined for the upped ratio – however, he probably isn’t as spooky as me. In any case, I lunged Gordon first, but as soon as I got on him he felt like a ball of energy. The wind tickled his ankles and he ricocheted out from the arena wall. I got nervous, as I’m apt to do, which never improves these sorts of situations. So I decided to cut my losses and reschedule my lesson for a time when I wouldn’t be a tense ball of nerves. My coach (Gordon’s owner) got on him for a bit and I watched. He only spooked once with her and was really good besides for that. She was calm with him and spoke quietly to him under her breath, praising him for being a brave boy in the particularly scary corners.
Today was just a particularly wuss day for me. Some days I am braver than others. However, in retrospect I feel ashamed of myself for not trying harder to overcome my fears and simply handing my horse off to my coach – she is supportive and does make this option easy though, whereas my Ottawa coach would have convinced me to work through it at all costs (which resulted in my taking a nervous riding hiatus for two months last winter). By the same token though, I am a recreational rider at the end of the day. My livelihood does not depend on my riding skills. I ride for fun and if I’m feeling stressed out by bad conditions around me I’m not going to have fun, and there’s a chance that I might get hurt. So maybe getting off tonight wasn’t such a bad thing after all? I’m still torn about my decision.
What could I have done to push myself through? I should have incorporated frequent soft transitions from my seat into my warm-up, getting Gordon to focus on me rather than on the scary noises around us. I should have spoke to him and distracted him (and myself!) as quickly as possible with some interesting shapes, figures and exercises. This is what I will aim to do next time, on a braver day, when I’m feeling more like a Clyde. Wish me luck!
Happy (and brave!) riding!