This past Saturday, August 13th, I had such a fun time with Buckshot! The weather was very nice, not too hot nor too humid, and the arenas had good footing. Wonderful. After I got Buckshot groomed and tacked up, I led him out to the arena and we began our phase 1 warm up walking.
I had recently read on Carol’s blog (Dressage Training Horse) several wonderful reminders of equitation, so I started using them. Good boobies, I thought. Shoulders back. Stretch from my abdomen to my neck. I sat up higher, and had good boobies LOL! Have shoulders like a proper woman and hips like a whore. I let my hips sway more noticeably with Buckshot’s walk. I kept reminding myself of these guidelines, and laughing at the same time. They worked! I could feel a better posture. We walked and did some patterns and exercises. I felt calm and balanced and happy. The arena and farm were quiet, and we had the whole arena to ourselves.
Finally, my sister drove up for the Saturday lesson, and I walked Buckshot out of the arena and over to her car to chat with her for a few minutes. After chatting, I directed Buckshot back to the arena. Our twenty minutes of walking was up so I asked him for a trot and he happily responded. In fact, he quickly went into a canter. After a few strides, we came down to the walk. I asked again for a trot, and he happily and energetically trotted, and then, almost in exuberance, went into a canter. I brought him down to a walk, and thought some. And that is when it happened.
I decided to try something new, something I’d never tried before because I was a little afraid to try it. I wanted to canter Buckshot using just one hand, with neck reining. I hadn’t done it before because I didn’t know what would happen. You know the feeling. Well, someday I’ll try that thing I want to try, but not yet. I don’t know what might happen. I don’t know if I can handle what does happen. So I’ll do it some other day. But this time, on this calm and quiet and happy Saturday, I wanted to try it.
So I put my English reins into one hand, draping them in the shape of western reins, and cued him for a canter. He picked it up immediately and I leaned back and rocked my hips, and brought my arm forward and back with his head. It felt wonderful! My seat stayed well in contact with the saddle! The rein movement seemed to fit his head movement nicely. I was even able to think, and steer, and bring him around the end of the arena and keep going! It was absolutely wonderful. I then said “trot” to bring him down to a trot. I laughed out loud and rubbed his neck and said “thank you, Buckshot, that was great!” And after a minute of walking, we did it again. I felt like running to get the BO and telling her, look what we can do! Just like a child would do when they achieved something surprising. I felt like a child on the inside! I couldn’t believe how well my butt stayed in the saddle and how composed my mind was. So we did it several more times, and each time I was enchanted by being able to canter one handed and doing it so well. Perhaps it felt good to Buckshot also since he was willing to keep cantering. I laughed and laughed and felt bubbly and wonderful inside.
Then three other students came into the arena and we started our class. After warming up the horses, the BO set up a pattern for us, one that included cantering and turning and walking. I felt so confident that I decided to do the canter one handed. We did great! The BO yelled out how well we did in the pattern! I was positively beaming and so proud of Buckshot! We went on to other patterns and then did a trail ride and then came back to the barn.
I was so proud of Buckshot and his hard work. And I was proud of myself. To have pushed beyond one of my mental limitations, and tried something, and felt confident enough with Buckshot to handle whatever happened. And then to reap the results of such a good canter, was icing on the cake. And I confess, I just wanted to canter, canter, canter! Like a teenager might want to. It did feel like I channeled my inner child and my inner teenager! Since I didn’t ride horses as a child or a teenager, maybe they are getting their time now! Such a joyful time for me, and Buckshot seemed to be in such good spirits also. I also think that the equitation tips from Carol may have contributed to my confidence; her tips enhanced my feeling of balance on Buckshot and when I feel such balance, perhaps my confidence grows. Thank you, Carol! I’m going to read and use your other tips as well.
On Sunday, sadly, we couldn’t repeat our fun from Saturday. Sunday was grey, cloudy and drizzly. The arenas were too soft for anything but walking. So we did a trail ride with the BO and her husband, and got caught in a good rainstorm. But I look forward to doing more next weekend. And to continuing to improve the canter. What a great horse Buckshot is! I am so appreciative of him.
On another topic, did you read the blog post Fugly had recently on Larry Trocha’s reply to a horse owner with problems? It is very interesting. He was pretty blunt that the horse owner had let her horse walk all over her, and had caused her horse to ignore her and take up dangerous practices. In my opinion, his thoughts are accurate and are things that need to be said. Having a horse isn’t for the faint of heart, or the timid, but some horse owners are just that. And he shares the brutal realities of letting a horse get away with all manner of bad behaviors. I just hope the owner will indeed take his reply to heart, and not dismiss it as too harsh.
For me, learning how to be a leader to a horse has been one of the most mental and challenging things ever. Have you found that to be the case with you? I hope you had a great weekend with your horse!