Archive for the ‘riding’ Category

Well, I have had my second UK riding lesson, and I have to say that this one went much better. Of course, once again, it decided to rain just while I was trying to walk to and from the bus stops, but it was only rain and not the sleet that greeted my last week, so things were looking up, all told.
My last lesson had been a bit complicated by my being completely out of shape,and the instructor announcing that he was quitting to find a better job later that week. He was nice enough, but I felt awkward and embarrassed to be *making* him do something that he quite clearly did not want to do. Also, ummm, I didn’t know the guy at all and felt just a tiny bit weirded out to be told that he was quitting because he had gotten “too intense.” (I had no idea what that even meant.)
But enough about the last lesson, this one was much more fun–and not just because the trainer told me I was tall and skinny.
For the record, *tall* is a very unusual way to describe me–I barely hit 5’4” when I stand very very tall and the skinny bit, while complimentary and possible at times in my life, is unlikely to be true after 2 months off of any exercise and my first English Christmas.
I decided that it was my magic black full-seats, though, and moved on. This lesson, we worked a bit on me, and a bit on the horse. Her name was Jenny (so, yes, easy for me to remember), and she was a typical riding school horse. *She* knew the proper way to do something, but she also knew an easier way, and getting the proper way out of her required some diligence and tact (and one whomping kick with an outside leg).
She was a love though and really helped emphasize the very weird habit I have of looking to the inside when I’m riding in a small space. I was all by myself in the ring, but I was acting as if I had to constantly look across the arena for others, instead of looking where we were going. After Jenny neatly reminded me of this fact by almost jumping the mounting block, we got along very well and worked on some jumping.
I had a great time jumping! I really need to work on my show jumping skills (I love cross-country and dressage, but show jumping has ALWAYS been where I have issues. Ummm, because I don’t like fences I can completely destroy?) So, we worked on me supporting her up to the base of the fence. Because she’s not all that scopey, I had to really convince her she could make it over, and then help balance her on the other side. Mostly, it involved me really rocking her back around the corner–almost like balancing on a skateboard when you want to turn–we had to make sure that the energy was balanced a bit behind us so we came around the corner lightly and straight.
By the end, we had a nice little rhythm going, and we took several nice fences. I’m very excited for my lesson next week. Ideally, I would like to ride more than once a week, but I need to find some way of supporting the habit first. Or, maybe, a share situation where I could get fitter and help someone out with a horse as well, who knows. Either way, I’m glad I’ve started riding again. I missed it. And, I’m actually glad I’m riding the bus. It’s really given me a way to learn my way around Manchester… And, I appreciated that the same group of little-old-ladies was on the bus this week and wanted to know ALL about my previous lesson.


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So I have now, officially, gone horseback riding in the U.K. Well, where in the world shall I start? I think I will start with the weather.
After TWO DAYS of sun (a record! in a row!), I woke up this morning to a downpour that was going sideways so fast it was making the windows vibrate. After deciding that the prospect of changing in a bathroom at the stables in the freezing cold was…lame…I made the bold decision to wear my black full-seats riding breeches to the barn. On the bus. Ha. Nobody even looked at me. There are people in Manchester who wear FAR weirder clothing than I do, apparently.
The next moment of panic came when the bus driver had no idea where the stop that I wanted was. Luckily, England is filled with helpful little old ladies and one of them got off a stop early to make sure that I knew where I was going. As we tottered down the lane at, like, -5 miles an hour (little old ladies are nice, but not speedy), it started to SNOW. Thank god it appears that my bag is magic and water-resistant because, really, this was getting silly.
I made it wayyyyy early (see earlier problem with bus driver who also convinced me it would take forever), so I had a chance to watch two girls exercising horses. They looked like they were having fun, and it was good to have a chance to sit there and relax into the place. And take two ibuprofen to ward off the sore muscles I am sure are in my future.
This is one of those places where they bring the horse to you all tacked up. It felt as if I had joined some exclusive club where people brought your horses to you and then…watched you ride. Or, in my case, try to ride while attempting, with great difficulty, to remember what the hell I was doing.

The horse was a sweetheart: a six year old TB who was a little green. Complete with head straight up and neck flexed against my hand. So…I rode around. After we got the canter going (and I gave him an impromptu, “no you don’t run in the trot on your way to the canter” lesson), he was much better. We jumped a tiny bit, the trainer said I looked fine except for my heels (which I’m sure were sticking straight up in an effort to squeeze the crap out of this horse), and he was being nice and said he loved my jumping position.

And that was the first lesson. We’ll see how this shapes up; I had already sent out an email to two random eventers I’d heard of saying “I know I have no right to ride with you, who would you recommend near me…”. (One of them was the woman who went UNDER the Trakahener at Burghley like a million years ago and made them change the rule to require everyone to jump over the log.) Hopefully, they will have something to say as well. The barn looked nice, and I think they do a good job, but I really like the three-discipline aspect of eventing.
But, yay, I got to ride! And I’m not sore! well, yet. Although I have made a vow to run more now. Even if it rains and snows again….
Also, I have no idea what exactly happened to the picture at the top of the post. My fingers were numb when I took it with my iPhone, so that apparently gives you a *wavy* shot. Cool, though.

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So, in California I rode a lot. Three or four times a week, sometimes more than one horse a day. I thought I would be good with a break–I often took weeks off at a time to visit Pete, and I was looking forward to slowly starting my life in the UK–and I tend to get very busy, very quickly, with the riding and didn’t want that to happen too fast.
However, in the last two weeks I have dreamt every single night that I had been riding. Every. Single. Night. At one point I dreamt I had an entire lesson and dismounted. Then, my “horse” stepped on my foot. It hurt! I woke to find my foot pinched between the mattress and the wall and fully expected a hoof shaped bruise to show up. It didn’t, but that didn’t mean that I missed out on a series of cross-country jumps (the next night) or a repeat of the toughest dressage lesson of my life (last night). It’s one thing to miss something–but I’m now at the point that I NEED to find somewhere to ride. And somehow to pay for it. I’ve scouted a few places and am planning on taking the bus to them in January. My goal for finding somewhere “permanent” is mid-February. Here’s hoping. It’s too bad those dreams do nothing to keep my body in riding shape!

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