fancy thoroughbreds and trying to deserve them

And then the riding. As you may have surmised, it has somewhat sucked of late because of the Virus That Will Not Go Away. This was extra frustrating on all levels: I had booked extra lessons through October. There’s a new horse in the barn, Manny, an ultra dark bay with a golden muzzle like a giant Dartmoor pony. Riding him was like being given the keys to a Ferrari. “HOLY SHI…!”

I asked Erin: “Is this what all fancy horses are like?” She said “Are you kidding me? This is where they START.”

Then the virus turned me into a crone and I kept having to drop out of lessons half way through because: exhausted. And then the rains came and lessons moved indoors and both Manny and Omni find the indoor arena VERY VERY EXCITING, and I kept nearly falling off. And my confidence took a massive hit, and I didn’t feel like jumping.

Until yesterday! When I got on Omni and Dez was teaching and made me trot, trot, circle, hold the outside rein, vibrate the inside rein, bend him around my leg. And he softened and his back got swingy and he started to come through. I used to think of Omni as The Professor, because if I touched him with my heel he would stop and put his head down and pigroot, sometimes with a little girly squeal. Basically exactly what Jean-Paul Descoeudres used to do to a first-year archaeology student who used Encyclopaedia Britannica as a source. (Not me, but I watched and had the fear of God put in me.)

Like all the horses that come into the McIntosh program, Omni has blossomed. It’s remarkable what top-quality hay and regular exercise will do to a horse. Bella has turned out nice; Omni is turning out super-fancy, and hot! He needs the strong warmup to get him forward and listening and using all his energy for good; otherwise, if you try to bottle him up, he will fizz and pop. (Remind you of anyone OH HELLO MISTER NOAH?) He’d been doing a lot of up and backwards lately. He’s not mean at all, just full of bean. The challenge is to channel it forwards.

But I did it! I got some very nice round softness out of him, and I started to fix my tension over fences, and best of all I kept up the good riding for a whole hour. I remembered that I am not just a passenger, that I am not (yet) an old lady, that I can ride. Massive relief.

I didn’t come anywhere close to achieving my riding goals for the year (Anne Kursinski clinic, comfortable at 2’9″.) But I did fix some other things: my lower leg isn’t swinging so much. Um. That’s it, really, and a big part of that was raising my stirrups a hole. I get discouraged if I let myself think about it too much; except that, though I am not progressing very fast (at all?), I am not actually regressing, which I did every year that I wasn’t riding. Still sucking at harder things, on better horses.

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