Back to Lessons: Five Things I Forgot

Going to university and holding down a couple of jobs leaves very little time and money to pursue my goals with Aleva. Because of this, we have not taken a lesson since August. Luckily, the University Gods bless students with the gift of Reading Week, the perfect chance to catch up on all of the things you’d rather be doing!

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Remember this lunatic? Jumping is her greatest joy in life, besides eating.

I hitched up my trailer (with minimal assistance) and we headed over to our coach’s barn for some quality jumping time- the first time in almost six months! My tack was sparkling clean, our flatwork has been coming along quite nicely, and we ready to do some jumping.

I started off feeling more much confident than I should’ve been, because I very quickly remembered a few important things about riding lessons:

1. Lessons are really long.

Do you even realize how long an hour is? I clearly don’t. I estimated that our rides leading up to this lesson were approximately 45 minutes long, but my stamina says otherwise. Aleva was in one of her rare moods, I’d almost call it lazy but she woke up as soon as we started jumping. After “warming up” for 15 minutes, I couldn’t feel my legs. Which leads me to realization number two….

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Aleva and I in 2012. I can’t even tell which fence we are trying to jump.

2. Riding requires muscles, man.

Muscles that I apparently no longer possess. Muscles that I completely forgot existed within my body. Leg muscles. Muscles throughout your entire leg. Muscles on the inside and outside of your leg. At the very top of your leg. Abs. Every single abdominal muscle.  Don’t even get me started on arm muscles. Oh, and my butt muscles ached for two days afterwards.

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Nickel and I in 2010. Turns out it’s possible to have your heel too far down.

3. That fence is big.

Ah, to be 14 and invincible again! There was a point in my life when I could gallop up to any size of fence with the belief that my little horse would carry us safely to the other side. Now, I’m a great big chicken. Confidence, clearly, is another muscle I have allowed to atrophy. My friend’s secret is to chant “It’s not big! It’s not big! It’s not big!” in time with her horse’s canter stride as they approach an intimidating height. This does not work for me. That fence looks big, and it feels big.  It might only be 3′, but it may as well be the Nation’s Cup at Spruce Meadows. We very well could be going to the 3′ Olympics tomorrow. The stakes have never been higher.

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This fence could be featured in the 3′ Olympics

4. My coach needs a bottle of wine.

Though I have coached beginner lessons and camps before, I do not consider myself a real trainer by any means. But I love this sport, and I love watching people fall in love with it. My coach is truly gifted with unparalleled insight, knowledge, and above all, PATIENCE! I have been riding since I was 5 years old and she had to remind me to put my heels down. More than once. And to shorten my reins. Several times. And to lift my eyes. Twice. Not once did she convey any frustration about my boneheadedness. I teach beginners! I should remember to have my heels down!

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How many times must I be told to put my heels down? The limit does not exist.

Which leads me to my final point……

5. I have so much to learn.

In this sport, you’re truly never done learning. My favourite part about riding is that every ride holds a new lesson, a new adventure. Every horse will teach you something different. It’s virtually impossible to grow tired of this sport if you are always willing to learn and grow.

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Warming up at our first show together under the watchful eye of not one, not two, but three coaches.

As Winston Churchill once said: “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”

Have you ever taken a break from riding, only to return to a harsh wake-up call?

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