Riding Diaries, Lesson 9: Warmth

Today my heart melted in a special way. When I arrived (and since I was also a bit early), I walked around to say hi and look at the other horses. One horse was in the main arena and stood up when I came by… I guess it was lying down from sleeping. I felt bad for startling it. That horse then proceeded to eat the leaves off of this nearby tall bush! It was quite a sight to watch this huge animal just pulling fresh leaves off of this 20 foot or so plant. I was still waiting for my instructor so I walked up to the fence that enclosed the arena area there, and the horse walked right up to me! I was wondering if it thought I would have food, but the motion of walking towards me was enough to make my day.

Early on during my lesson today, I also felt this warmth in the saddle – one that I had never felt before. My instructor pointed out that I was sitting deeper in the saddle. I guess my body is getting more used to the proper positioning, and I’m not bouncing as much (which has previously left me bruised and chaffed in not so pleasant areas…). I attribute this to a conscious decision that I made to really get beyond my nervousness of horseback riding today – and just have fun.

Today we got to enlarging and reducing the size of the circle that Marigold and I were walking; changing directions; changing the size of the circle again. I’m getting much better at adjusting. Going from trot to walk speed still takes some effort though. I’m supposed to pull my elbows back, but for some reason I’m always pulling with my wrists, and then turning them in the process. Apparently if an emergency were to ensue, that would not be good because the reins would be too long to be useful to me.

My dream of having my own horse one day continues to ensue and deepen. At first I was wondering how this would even be possible, but now I am learning to just let it sink in. In time, the path and the answer to this will come in its own way. I don’t have to “make it happen” – but rather allow it to come into my life. This is a radical shift for me, a person who historically has been so good at making things happen for herself – even though they didn’t turn out at all how I had expected or hoped. Rather, when I allow new things into my life – things I did not dream up or plan – they turn out even better than I could have ever imagined. Somehow, it will come. I trust that God has planted this new dream in me, as other new dreams that have bubbled up, and He will reveal in the wisdom of His timing, the way.

In the meantime, I am enjoying my new helmet and shoes. They also made a huge difference in today’s lesson. I’m sitting at a cafe writing this now after having just ventured to San Diego to explore the horse facilities here. I stumbled upon a ranch that is also the home of the UCSD Equestrian Team! The horses there looked so big – I don’t know if they appeared larger to me because their stable areas were bigger or what. There were also signs that warned about some of them biting. All I experienced when walking up to them, though, was them just sticking their heads out to come closer to me. One of the things I’ve learned is not to try and pet the horse’s head – they don’t seem to like it. For now, then, I just stand there, and we just look at each other. We are just present to one another. This is enough. More than enough. It brings an incredibly satiating joy deeper than the core of my soul. That’s the best that I can explain it. Silent, secret gasps that echo in the recesses of my heart. Captivated is a major understatement.




Riding Diaries, Lesson 8: Humming

Got back on Marigold today. A few interesting moments. First, she was having a major breakfast session when I came to her stall – it wasn’t just little nibbles here and there, but major crunch crunch of the fresh hay. Yum. Of course, this presents a little challenge for me trying to get her halter on and out. I did though and out we went. Is this what it’s like when a parent is trying to get their child to do something, like eat? They are doing their thing and you’re trying to get them to do something else.

When we got into the arena my instructor at one point mentioned that horses are left-handed – so am I! Another connection. Then later while we were trotting, something alerted Marigold and she started going even faster! Of course I freaked out and by squeezing her, made her go even faster than that. I understand the next speed is cantering – about 15 mph. It was scary, unexpected, and thrilling all at the same time.

I’m better now at not bouncing up and down so much at trotting speed. I feel like my body is responding more smoothly with it – like jello, but controlled. I can’t explain it exactly but I guess anyone who has been on horses for a while would know what I’m talking about here.

I also got new riding shoes. Next item – a helmet. There’s a sale soon at the nearby Horse Mart so we’ll see.

Before my lesson started, I was able to talk to a horse owner there. She was asking how it was going for me. She also shared that she’d be riding since she was 9, and her dad recently bought her a horse (she is probably 40 or 50-something now). I would like to have a horse one day.

I’m so glad I didn’t quit the moments when I felt comfortable enough or too uneasy. In the same way I learned today that horses like humming because it calms them down, I feel that the horses are humming to me as well.

Riding Diaries, Lesson 7: Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, but You?

We got back on the saddle today with Marigold. I walked her to the back arena area and met my instructor. She had said something earlier about removing the lead rope from the halter but I missed that somehow and forgot that you can lead a horse by using the reins. Duh. It’s ok, next time. We started our usual trotting around. At one point she paused and at first we thought it was because it was the same spot that I had caressed her earlier. Nope, she was stopping there to do her business. Ha.

The new thing today was learning how to turn multiple times while at trotting speed. Before, we had just been going in a circle and switching direction from time to time. Today it was back and forth several times as I was getting used to the amount of pull, the direction (out or back), and so forth. I’m getting more relaxed in the saddle while still able to maintain good posture and gaining a better sense of the different aspects of my body. The guidance from my instructor is getting less overwhelming and I am easing more into the movements.

Now it’s time to look into buying a helment, shoes, and boots. Where to begin? I guess I’ll do some research online but if any of you have any suggestions, I would love some tips.

I realized that I’ve come into each of my lessons having no idea what I’m going to learn, much less what is going to happen that day. I’ve never thought to ask and I don’t think I will in the future either. I just show up, both nervously but more so excitedly. I am learning to approach life in general more in this way. Sure we can make plans, but do we really know what is going to happen? The times that I do go into moments or days really not knowing what to expect, they of course turn out to be the best days. Why shouldn’t life be the same? Just show up. No expectations. Thinking less. Trusting more. Acknowledging your fear and nervousness but embracing your excitement and energy. Of course, I’ve heard this many times before, but somehow this time around – with the horses – they are becoming more real. On we go.