My path back to being fit and able to ride less like a drunk monkey, and more like myself has been sporadic. But I do have good news. Last week I was able to school a horse I had never ridden over a full course…twice.
Oh and I didn’t die.
Yes, he was another schoolie who knows not to waste energy on shenanigans, but still. Baby steps people.
I’m starting to remember pace, I’m remembering where the distance is, and I’m remembering that I do really enjoy this! I had a clingy moment during the ride and tried to put in 4.25 strides in a 4. Immediately I went into survival mode, full expecting to get tossed over a shoulder. But the saintly gelding just sighed and put in the biggest, ugliest chip stride I’ve seen in a long time, and popped over. So I guess the drunk monkey riding isn’t gone forever, but those moments are getting further apart.
Throwback to super fit Genny.
This weeks lesson, it was reinforcing pace and steadiness. I was back on my handsome friend Grover, and as long as I kept him nice and straight we bounced right through our poles, and over the bending line without any issues. In fact I even felt like I could keep my leg in place and really sit up through the little course. All signs of returning fitness I hope.
Of course with my returning fitness I can’t help but think forward to this summer! I’m hoping to check off some items on my to do list, but most of all, just having a hell of a good time doing what I love! Bring on all the horses.
After I sold O I had about 1000 different ideas about how I would proceed in the future with horses. They fall under three main catagories:
- Lease a horse
- Buy a horse
- Scramble and ride whatever I can
But after those three directions…things got a little crazy. Below is a list of the array of things I’ve thought about doing. Some completely ridiculous, some more plausible….
- Buy a cute, young horse to bring up through the hunter world. (like I did with O, but hopefully it wouldn’t hate to jump)
- Bring up baby horse. My husband has a ‘baby horse’ who is 4 and couldn’t hurt to put miles on.
He’s not this little anymore!
- Buy a greenie off the track. Because I loved my OTTB’s I worked with in high school, and would love to have my own again.
- Adopt a mustang. Because Elisa Wallace and several bloggers here make them look like tiny sporty badasses.
- Lease something with some experience, and hit the shows hard.
- Buy a baby horse.
- Steal my father-in-law’s lovely black Percheron mare Because she looks like something out of a fairy tale. Also, feathers.
- Forget my pursuits, buy a young large pony, and spend the next few years bringing it up the levels. It’ll be a rockstar by the time baby girl can really ride.
- Explore new disciplines! Eventing (at the lowest level) looks like something my stomach might be able to handle. Or hey, what about foxhunting!? We have a great local organization for both.
- Maybe I’m going too far and really just want to play jumpers? Speed and bling are welcome there, and I like both those things.
Back when I knew how to turn and burn.
What all of this really breaks down to is I have zero clue what I’m going to do next anymore. I thought I did. Then I found more options….and then others…and now we are here. But the biggest piece of advice everyone shared with me is that I shouldn’t rush. I should take my time and enjoy what I’m doing. So for now, I’m going to keep poking my way around the hunter ring with cute schoolies. After that…who knows!?
While I’m still scrambling around a bit about a permanent plan to move forward, I thought I’d take a minute to highlight the thoroughbred gelding who has been shipping my butt from one side of the ring to the other.
So this, my friends, is Grover.
Work that pink saddle pad.
This little dark bay fella has recently found himself a job with my trainer as an advanced schoolie, and was recovering from some ouchie in his front right. He has buttons everywhere, and even swaps his leads out. He is a huge boost to my self-esteem, and when I fall apart, or have a bad moment he’s there to lend a hand. In return he expects me to stay out of his face (like totally out of it), to ride him softly, and tighten the girth slowly.
Grover could jump around the stuff we are currently doing in my lessons in his sleep. But I have to say I love seeing his little brown ears perk up and that he gets a little quick going around course. It’s been awhile since I’ve ridden one that enjoys it’s job so much, and it is really refreshing. He won’t take me any higher than 2’6” but since I’m still a limp noodle at the end of my rides, it’s not an issue.
He’s such a good boy, and I’m glad to be spending some time with him.
Side note: Are all geldings this laid back? He’s so chill.
I finally jumped!! And dear God, I remember why I love it so much. For months, even while jumping, O hadn’t exactly made it a fun experience. So having the chance to bounce around a little course with one of my trainers schoolies was so nice. The gelding I was on knows his job inside out, makes the strides, and can take a joke if necessary (shocker-he had to a few times). I’m pretty sure I said “good boy” about 500 times.
It was for the first time since getting pregnant that I really, truly felt like my old self again. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in being out of shape, or getting disappointed in my lack of strength. But during this ride, I actually felt like I knew what I was doing. I didn’t do it perfectly, and I wanted to hold this poor bay’s face all the way over the jump, but the simple fact is that this is what I want to continue doing. And if I can get some energy and muscle back, it’ll only get better.
We did a little outside line, a bending line around to a long approach single. Having been riding a stopper for months has created some general busy-ness with my hands and upper body at the base of the jump, but I think having some really honest types take me around a few times will help ease those control issues. I was proud though, of when Mr. Schoolie wanted to get a little quick, I wasn’t intimidated or anxious. A big half-halt and we were back on our merry way.
See that “giant”crossrail. First jump after a year. The little vertical next to it was in the second line.
I’m so excited! What a fun ride!
After baby I was back in the saddle about 7 weeks later. I felt totally floppy/messy, but I was there. Then O left, and instead of riding 2-3 times a week, I suddenly was doing the once a week lesson thing. My first lesson was fine, but I also spent equal times fuming and laughing at myself. It is quite possibly the most frustrating thing to know what you are supposed to do, and realize your body can’t do it. But in some ways it’s just hilarious, because you know you look ridiculous too. (pony kicks for everyone)
Want to ride like this….
Last Thursday was my second ‘real’ lesson, and honestly I spent the majority of it embarrassed. Not that I thought a few rides would make a huge difference, but I expected something to be better. Uh…nope.
If anything, I felt like I was getting more floppy, gross, and just spaztic in the tack. My schoolie, a new one to me, probably thought I’d lost my mind because we spent a lot of time walking. I had to focus on not dying after just posting trot, or two pointing around a full lap. Humiliating.
My trainer is the best, and I try to laugh it off, but it really is hard. The basic conclusion is that I need something to ride more often. I’m not going to recover from 6 months off by riding once a week. At least not quickly. So there is about 5 different plans in motion, and we’ll just have to see what works out.
All I can tell you is that I’m so sore today my arms kind of hurt when I stretch out to type and carrying the baby up and down the stairs is a whole production. Let’s not even talk about the dumb choice to wear heels Friday. My thighs are killing.