So I have this secret fear that I ruin people’s horses. That I am a horse ruiner. I think this fear stems back to about two years ago, when things started going really badly with my coach’s horse. By really badly, I mean that I had a couple of really bad rides. It wasn’t an ongoing thing, but it was enough to result in my horse getting seriously pissy and me getting injured. Additionally, there was this big drama-filled showdown at my old barn in Ottawa a few years ago, and my coach told me some hurtful info that she had said about me to someone else because she wanted to preemptively avoid another person (who was currently lashing out) to tell me the info, thus resulting in a rift between us. During the time my rides were going badly, my coach had said to the barn owner something along the lines that she was afraid that I was ruining her horse. To be honest, I wasn’t quite ready for Fonz in many ways. It was a big jump between my last horse and him, and had been pushed prematurely due to some joint injuries in horse #1. I think in an ideal world I would have stayed on Duke for another year, building confidence and building my seat, before “upgrading” to the more athletic, but difficult, horse.
In any case, this memory is coming back to me now along with the realization that I think I caused the canadian mare I was leasing afterward to become heavier. I don’t think this was all me, as she went from being a personal horse to a school horse during the time I was leasing her, so there were others doing damage too. But I do remember Katie being a lot lighter when I first started riding her, and gradually becoming heavier and less enjoyable to rider properly. It became more and more of a struggle to get her going nice and through. What before would happen in ten minutes, gradually took quite a bit longer. Eventually this improved when I was riding nearly every day (before the big move) last August. However, there were definitely still some issues there and I would say she still wasn’t as consistently light as she had been when I first started riding her a year before.
And now I fear that I’m doing the same thing to Gordon. If you see my last post, you’ll notice that my coach pointed out to me that Gordon was a lot heavier (she finally had the chance to hop on him for the first time in a few weeks last Monday). I honestly hadn’t noticed a difference until she pointed out – and now it’s all I can think about in the saddle. Today’s ride actually started pretty decently, until I started overthinking things. Is that too much weight in my hands? Is he leaning on me? Let me just give away my outside rein to check. Oh, and I’ll check again. Ok, now he’s definitely leaning on me. This was the type of self-talk going on in my head during my ride. It got to the point that a battle broke out. I’ve never, ever had a battle for contact with Gordon before. Usually a little play and he’s on the bit, he doesn’t fight. Additionally, he felt so heavy in my hands near the end. Things went downhill throughout our ride today – a microcosm of the larger issues that have been happening since I’ve been co-boarding him? Is there something wrong with me that just doesn’t allow for me to properly “listen,” to properly give and take? Is it my lack of coordination? In any case, as you can probably tell from this post I am definitely feeling majorly discouraged. Gordon is a good boy and it breaks my heart that I’m giving him a hard time and sending him confusing signals (although I think he is starting to take advantage too). Anyway, I asked my coach if I could have an extra lesson this weekend as I don’t want to just keep riding on my own and exacerbating the problem. I really hope that this is something I can finally figure out, because I think it will be a major breakthrough in my riding to understand how to ride without “weight” in my hands (which is the cause of my horse ruination tendency, I believe – I like to feel the horse in my hands, to a certain extent. Gordon’s weightlessness in the beginning was off-putting and unfamiliar). Anyway, we will see how this weekend goes if my coach doesn’t kick me off her horse before then to save him from the evil horse ruiner. Until then, be glad your horses and ponies are locked up safe. PS. I know I’m laying it on a bit thick here, but bear with my melodrama as it makes me feel a bit better to try and spin this crappy set of patterns into a more humorous occurrence.