On Sunday I had plans to hit up LA to visit my bff, Sabrina, who was visiting for the week. We don’t see each other very often because she lives in Vancouver, so any time she’s within 150 miles of my house I make a point. Of course my barn just happens to be on the way to LA if I choose to take that freeway. Naturally I scheduled another lesson and warned Sabrina I’d be showing up ripe with the smell of horse. Which she deals with because she loves me (but also because she draws cartoon horses for a living and needs to be exposed to the reality behind the unicorn horns and sparkles).
This lesson (Sunday) was fabulous. Aria started on the lunge line with a complete baby brain which kind of bummed P out a little because she said that she had gotten beautiful work on Aria the previous week while I was out and wanted to show it off. Of course, you know how it goes when you want an animal to perform. You end up with a circus. After a few minutes of shenanigans she ended up riding Aria like the baby she is.
I don’t really know what the difference was between Saturday and Sunday but the saddle that I normally hate sitting in felt more comfortable and Aria felt really solid under me. I didn’t ask for much and P didn’t really instruct much. We kept it simple. I did two laps around the arena at a walk in both directions and then I spent a while getting a good rhythm at the trot in both directions. We had some issues staying on the wall which meant our track looked a bit more like that kid on Family Circus (I pray to god you all are old enough to know what I’m referencing) but I kept the ride very low pressure. Then P piped up and asked me to canter.
Dun dun duuuun.
Actually, it went really well. Other than Aria thinking my cue for the canter is utter shit, I had no issues with my seat, no issues with fear.
And this is a bit interesting to me. When I reflect back on the ride I think I can say that the lack of fear was because I’d cantered on Aria before and it went okay…but I also wonder…
I wasn’t worried about running into anything and that’s not normal. Aria was doing her lateral evasion technique and blowing through my outside aid but I was cool with it because I could see when we’d hit the fence. We flailed around a little trying to pick up the left lead but it wasn’t panic inducing for me like it has been before. We cantered a few laps around the arena and then P called me in. She had a huge smile on her face and told me I looked like a totally different rider out there. She said I was sitting straighter, my seat was infinitely better, and that I had given a far more superior ride than I had ever done before. She said my new eyes were working for me.
What she said kind of makes sense. I can see. For the first time in 20 years I can see everything, everywhere. Not just through the glasses that keep slipping down my nose. When your glasses slip down your line of vision slips down and then your chin follows. It’s been really nerve wracking to pick up speed on a horse when you can’t see where you’re going. It’s really nerve wracking to have a horse not listen when you can’t tell how close to obstacles you are.
And it is amazing that I can just focus on riding and not worry about gathering my reins in one hand so I can push my glasses up with the other every few minutes. Aria never felt more solid under me in the two months I have been riding her like she did yesterday, which makes sense. For the first time we had an uninterrupted conversation. It was amazing!