I have been really excited about this post.
Last Friday I finally had my first ride on Aria. It was a long time coming. I was supposed to have this ride back in December but the universe decided to work against me with terrible weather, human/equine illness, and broken body parts (not broken, broken but like, not functioning).
I was really, really pumped for this lesson. I woke up super early and didn’t get much sleep–which is always a good plan for riding a brand new horse but this was my equine Disneyland so I do what I want–I usually get up at 4:30am for work. I’ll let you guess what super early might be. I headed to work and everything was sunshine and rainbows.
Knowing I would be trying to travel in So Cal on a Friday afternoon, I left an hour early from work. Good thing I did! It took me over 3 hours to get to my trainers’ place because everyone decided to get into multi-car pileups. People need to stay off the roads on my lesson days. There was also a ton of traffic because we were having a California Poppy super bloom. Traffic was literally at a standstill because the hillsides were orange. I get it that we don’t see that even every decade but if I have to sit in an hour of stand still traffic someone better be dead. Too much? Maybe I should tone my traffic aggression down a bit…
The real problem with the traffic was that it made me tense and I really wanted to feel relaxed and confident for my first ride. I shook it off when I got to the barn because you have to leave baggage at the “door”, plus my trainers have great attitudes and it’s infectious. P brought Aria out and we groomed her and tacked her up. I then lunged her to get used to their lunging technique because I have no technique and just let Ben run around like a mad man normally (I’m a terrible person, I know).
Then P schooled Aria for about 45 minutes. She put her through all her paces and left every movement on a good note. Aria can be rambunctious and it was windy out. The perfect excuse to spook and be reactive to everything. An excuse that home girl used multiple times. As we all know I am not a confident rider and the more P worked Aria the more I got nervous. Aria’s spooks are laughable compared to most horses and she came back into P’s hand immediately with no issues but that didn’t stop my stomach from dropping into a pit of major trepidation.
I needed a Xanax.
I can proudly say when my turn rolled around I hiked up my Pull-ups and marched over to Aria with a total fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude. And it worked while I mounted. It worked as P lunged us at a walk. It even worked when we picked up a trot. My oh, my how it failed at the first spook. I immediately leaned forward (criminy Karen, get your shit together. Aren’t we over this fetal position form of riding by now?) and Aria scooted around for maybe 2 steps. Two steps. That was all it took for her to rein it back in. Anyone can sit two measly steps.
The next time we passed the scary banner she spooked again. I applied inside leg, outside rein and she calmed down immediately. Okay, that wasn’t so bad. I could sit that spook all day long. I didn’t even lean forward all that much. The third time around P told me to preemptively support Aria before getting to the banner. Not a spook in sight. She picked up her pace as we passed the banner but otherwise flounced along (yeah, Aria is fancy). Every time I thought she might get squirrely I just applied my inside leg, outside rein and she moved forward with purpose. She wasn’t quite confident because we were feeling each other out but she definitely knew I was supporting her.
And you know what? I caught myself smiling for the rest of the lesson. It was a huge confidence booster for me. Plus Aria’s trot is smooth and silky. Doesn’t matter what speed we’re trotting at. It was like driving a really expensive car. Designed for comfort.
We didn’t canter but that’s okay. I walked and trotted her around the arena without a lunge line and R (the trainer that made Aria the awesomeness that she is) started yelling across the arena in his announce voice “Entering the arena: Karen on Aria”. I told him to shut the hell up because I was nervous enough already. Haha.
But overall it was an amazing first ride and I replicated it the following day but with less leaning forward, spooking, and no lunge line warm up ride or traffic.