I had my fourth riding lesson today: a disaster!
I’d booked a lesson with Fergus and Karen. Karen had a lesson with someone else so I was with Fergus and Kim.
As I said in my earlier post, Karen and Kim (fortunately, both are incredibly patient and empathetic) have very different teaching styles. Karen spent a lot of time on posture, balance and how small muscular movements like tightening the stomach affect your horse. Kim understood I’d lost my nerve when I was younger and was keen to push me out of my comfort zone, asking me to canter for just a few strides so at the end of the lesson I’d have achieved something to look back on.
Anyway, at some point – something minor like Ferg stumbling a little – I got anxious. I made the mistake of not stopping him when he started to play up and really lost control. He, being a clever horse, picked up on this and carried on being awkward and I got more nervous to the point where I felt like crying and my stomach was churning. I was also sending out conflicting signals with my legs and voice and whip (something Karen doesn’t use, interestingly) to move him on, but then instinctively and confusingly pulling back with my hands (and heart!).
Kim was patient and supportive, telling me things she and other riders feared, and made me do it again: “You’ll hate me now,” she said, “but it’s worth it. I wouldn’t ask if I thought you couldn’t do it.”
She was right in that now, looking back, I can remember that the few strides of canter were longer than the last lesson and that for a split second I identified that there was something soothing and appealing and even more comfortable in the rhythm. And Fergus didn’t try and throw me off.
Unfortunately, I’m feeling like it was a disaster overall, that the successful canter was more by luck than judgement, and am worried I’ll start out even more nervous in a fortnight’s time for my next lesson.
Should I book an interim lesson with Karen, I wonder, to ‘ground myself’ in the basics?
The idea of alternating between thorough, steady technique and lessons that push me out of my comfort zone is appealing.
Should I just trust that Kim wouldn’t push me further continue if it truly was a disaster? Especially as Fergus’s method of expressing displeasure isn’t to buck or bolt, but to just stop!
Questions to ponder before the next time…