I had a riding set back.
It was ugly. I was not in a lesson. I was letting Hudson gallop off some steam. My trainer walked up to the gate. Sometimes she gives me pointers here and there, which I love. I’m curious, I wonder what I’m
doing wrong need to improve?
Katherine, who has never gushed in her life, went on and on about how wonderfully I was riding, giving me concrete examples for inspiration.
This sent me over the moon. I am so happy! I can ride? I can ride! Really? I. Can. Ride!
Katherine sees my internal response building, and says “you needed to hear it, and it’s true.” I never doubted it’s true. I’ve never heard her give a compliment that wasn’t earned.
I couldn’t wait to start riding again, so I could do it well again. Katherine left, drove off, and no one else was in the immediate vicinity. Hudson politely shifted underneath me, translation: um, hey can we go now?
Can we go? You bet! We hit the gas.
What follows is the worst train wreck of a ride imaginable. Hudson is most excellent. He’s completely ignoring the awful bouncing, jouncing, slithering and pounding that is happening on his back. Hudson is focused: need. speed.
I’m stiff and unyielding. My joints are nearly unbendable. I confess. I bounced. At the canter. Who bounces at the canter?! On a horse that willingly gives me his back and trusts me with it. He gave me his back and ignored the trampoline effect.
It gets worse. There was daylight. DAYLIGHT between me and the saddle. Not a little, proper, easy, hunt-seat daylight, but cartoon character daylight.
Apparently, you can yell at me forever and I’m fine, but compliment me, and I’m instant wreckage.
I ask him to stop. Glumly, he stops. I take a deep breath, will myself to relax, count to ten, and cue to pick up the canter again.
Still SUCKING! I bring him back down again. Breathe. Focus on settling into the saddle, stretch, picture what it should feel like. Then I ask him to canter again.
It’s too much for Hudson. I had promised him a good gallop, and now I’m chopping it into little unsatisfying pieces. We blast off into an ear-pinning, nose-pointing, ground- eating monster gallop. I’m slightly behind his movement. I compound the problem with a green rider error: I try to scootch up to the movement.
(What you think you’re saying: I’m trying to catch up to you. What horse hears: faster, please! And quick!)
We rocket into 3rd gear, and I’m further behind. Any moment now I’ll just slide off his butt.
I smack myself. I ask him to come back to me: he does, and I slide into the rhythm. Make that bounce into the rhythm. My brain screams RELAX at me. Hudson, the mind reader, hears SCREAAAAAAAAAAM. We hit 4th gear. Because he thinks I’m yelling at him.
What is WRONG with me? I bring him back down. Hudson is miffed, but too professional to show it. He contains himself, shuts down, and is all business. Trots when I ask him to trot.
Okay, that’s it. Who bounces at the posting trot?!
Despite numerous tries, I can’t pull myself together from the wreckage of being complimented. I refuse to ride my horse THIS badly. We cool out. Tomorrow is another day.
The next day, I lift the dressage saddle up. Going to gallop in the upper, and then work in dressage in the lower, where the footing is lighter. I walk on the access road to warm up. After my 400th revolution, Lily stops me. “You okay?” she asks.
“Yup”, I say, “just warming up.”
It’s been a good 45 minutes. Lily knows me too well: she looks at me. Fine. I confess. Katherine gave me a huge compliment and I totally fell apart and now I’m not afraid to gallop, I’m afraid of SUCKING.
Lily is all business. “You gotta go. Right now. Go gallop.” She looks around. “Everyone is busy, no one will even notice. GO. I won’t watch.”
I look down at my hands like a kid.
“Don’t make me walk you up there”.
“Okay” I say at last. “Going.”
She adds the magic words, “Go SUCK!”
And I fly with Hudson as if we were born to gallop together.
Sucking! Yeah! WHOOHOO.
Why bother wishing I was normal? I have friends who know how to deal with my perverse psychological reactions. I am so lucky. That could have been a streak of ugly riding.
After Lily left, and I was untacking a sweaty Hudson, another trainer came by. Casually, in a concerned sort of way, she asked “Did I hear – someone – tell you…you sucked?” She knows Lily and I are good friends, she’s trying to be tactful. Uncomfortable pause while I try to figure out how to explain my predicament.
She rushes in: “Because you don’t! I’ve never seen you ride badly. My kid won Scottsdale because I told her to ride like YOU, remember?” (FYI, her student won Scottsdale because the kid did a great job.)
CRAP. Not THIS trainer too! I could weep. I’m jinxed. Nooooooooooo.
Her heart was in the right place. But now I have to overcome the compliment thing again.
Will you all please tell me to go suck at riding? I’m feeling better, and I should be able to ride soon. I’d really like to ride well, which I can’t seem to do unless it’s okay to completely suck.
Um, for research sake, does this happen to anyone else? Does anyone else need to hear a cheerful: go have the worst ride ever?