Happy New Year! I hope everyone's is off to a good start. I think I may have broken my previous record for the amount of food and alcohol consumed over the last 10 days. I am looking forward to being back at work so that my body can detox!
Until last night, I hadn't had a lesson since the beginning of December and weather impacted riding regularly through the month of December. However, I did manage to get in a couple of short rides and one grooming session over the holidays.
My rides have been OK. It has been busy in the arena and I sometimes found it difficult to get a rhythm; there were a lot of start stops because of reduced space in which to work. I managed to get up to a lope a couple of times on Sunday - the first time in a month! - but was unable to keep it up for a complete circle of the arena. It amazes me that my body so quickly forgets what it's like to ride. I was actually nervous loping. A month ago, my goal of loping around the arena twice, controlled and balanced, was in reach. Now, it seems, not so much. I have to admit that I have missed my lessons! I missed the discipline and having someone push me. I think Gem missed them, too. Our last few rides have been sort of.....aimless.
Gem has a new neighbour one stall down from him. Rusty is a lovely quarter horse who became A.'s companion about a year ago. A. and I were grooming together last week and I had the opportunity to get to know her better. She's been riding since she was 7 years old, and started to compete in jumping at 9. She decided that she had had enough with competing. It was time consuming, she found it stressful, it was no longer fun for her. She felt burnt out.....at 15 years of age! Her parents supported her decision and Rusty was purchased for A. as an all purpose companion. He is well trained and he jumps. A. enjoys him.
I told A. that Gem and I had been together for just over 18 months and that I had been taking weekly lessons for just over 2 years. She looked at me and said "Shouldn't you know how to ride after taking lessons for that long?" Out of the mouths of babes.....sigh.
Now, I have to admit that the response that came to my mind first was not all that kind. :-) With A. being a jumper person, the second thought that came to mind was my one and only jump on Gem. Based on that experience, I said that learning to ride when you are older than her mother (yikes!!) can be hard on the body and a bit scary. When you are older, your body doesn't always cooperate. I told her that she had the advantage of starting young, with the size of her horses matching her physically as she grew. Her body automatically knows how to bend and wrap around a horse; mine takes a bit more effort and it's still not completely natural to me yet. I was pleased with her response; "It's great that you are trying it."
During the drive home, I thought about her comment. Taking weekly lessons for 2 years DOES seem like a long time! Will I ever get this??? After lesson last night, we went for our usual beer and burgers and I told my riding buddies what A. said to me. Jean and CA said, almost at the same time, "What are you talking about? You do know how to ride! You are improving your skills and confidence through lessons." RB added, "every rider I know takes at least occasional lessons or clinics....including LA!" I felt better. :-)
So, I guess I am going to be a student for a while yet. :-) Come to think of it, My Husband takes lessons and boot camps for golf regularly....and he's been golfing for 30 years. When I partnered up with Gem, it never occurred to me NOT to take lessons. A.'s comment has made me really think. Yes, lessons are a good thing for me, but based on my aimless rides with Gem over the past month, am I too dependent on lessons to feel like I accomplished anything? Do I need to learn to be more independent? Perhaps a long-term goal for me should be working towards achieving the status of "occasional lesson taker". I am going to approach my rides outside of lessons with a bit more discipline and with a plan in mind. A.'s comment will stay with me, but in a positive way. Can a 15-year old influence change in my middle-aged life.....I guess so!
What was I thinking.....?