Sunday, October 12, 2008

More on Riding

I am having the most awesome time horseback riding lately, it just seems to be getting better & better, the more I ride. On Friday I went to Barn #2 for my lesson -- there was jumping and it was lots fun (as it always is). Right now she has me jumping pretty small fences, but that's okay, I'm probably not ready for anything much bigger at the moment, although I do feel my confidence coming back now. At least nerve-wise I think I could handle some bigger jumps, but there is no reason to be in a big rush for it, I'm having a total blast either way, regardless of the fence size. Anyway, so on Friday she had me riding one of the horses that are currently available for half-lease. LuLu is a pinto horse who has a few minor rough edges, collects herself on the flat but needs a little work to get that from her, is a little difficult picking up the left lead canter, but she loves to jump! When we got to the jumping part of the hour, she was in her glory (as was I) and a total blast to ride. She gets excited and likes to rush her fences a bit, but I don't mind that at all, it doesn't freak me out, but brings me back to a place & time when I could ride hell for leather around a jump course on an enthusiastic horse. The trick is to form a partnership and learn how your horse ticks, learn how to control that fire and organize her around a jump course. But it sure is a lot more fun than trying to kick a pokey horse around a course. Anyway, so LuLu is a sweetheart, has great ground manners and is plenty of fun. She's not perfect, but there is nothing about her that is a show-stopper. If anything, having some stuff to work on and work-through will help bring back my skills and help to make me an over-all better rider. Certainly in all of my riding history, it was a very rare occasion where I was able to even ride a "made" horse. Most of the horses I was brought up on had their issues and I believe (have always believed) that this made me a better rider and definitely a better horsewoman. It's too easy to just end up being a passenger otherwise. You might learn to look pretty on a horse, but actual horse handling, learning how to get the best out of the horse you're on, to be able to get on the back of most any horse and feel confident that you can handle what is thrown at you, well, you only get that by riding the gamut, not just the perfectly made or trained, bombproof horses.

So, I'm thinking of taking the half-lease on LuLu. Alison explained to me that she would be a good horse to start me on. She said how she usually does it is that when it is time to re-up the lease, we would then re-evaluate where I am and see if I need to move up in horse, based upon how far I've come and what my goals are (do I want to compete, if so what level would I be starting at, etc.) She said that she has a horse that might be good for me in the Spring. He's recovering from an injury now, but he's apparently a great eventing horse, took her through Prelim, so would be a great horse for me to learn the lower levels on. Anyway, that's possibly the future, right now I have to decide whether I want to make this commitment and do the half-lease with LuLu. I'm leaning strongly towards it. It's a wonderful way to have the feel of owning a horse, without all the expense and commitment. With the lease, I can ride 4x a week -- one for my lesson and three other times, on Sunday and during the week. I feel like if I can ride that many times a week, I really will be able to improve at a decent rate, not to mention the "fun" factor. Anyway, I'll probably have to make a decision soon, so I have to give this some serious thought. Ultimately I would probably like to own a horse, but the half-lease option would be great for now and would mean that I don't have to rush into owning.

Yesterday I went to Barn #1 for a trail ride and it was a total blast too. It was just absolutely the most perfect day. Peak New England Fall foliage. Warm day, in the low-70s/high-60s, but with that crisp edge you get in Fall. Brilliant sunshine. Just a perfect day to be outside on the back of a horse. Ro had pushed back the start time of the trail ride, so I was able to get on early and hack around in the dressage ring for about half an hour. And then we were on our way. It was Ro and her husband, two other of her more advanced adult students and me. It was a much more wild ride than last week (since last week we had some more beginner and timid types on the ride). Cantering, galloping, through mud, water, through rugged wooded trails, etc. It was the best time ever. So. Much. Fun. I felt so happy and content just to be on the back of a horse and able to ride confidently and competently. I ended up riding for over two and a half hours and loved every minute of it.

This is really hard for me now because I'm enjoying my experiences at both barns. I like both places so much that I really don't want to quit one of them now, I get so much out of both. Also, since riding on a Saturday isn't really that possible at Barn #2 (they're pretty booked up with lessons there already), I feel inclined to continue to ride at Barn #1 for Saturdays anyway. And if I can continue to do fun stuff like trail riding on those Saturdays, I feel like my overall riding experience is pretty well-rounded then. The biggest issues are, well, the money, but I also feel a little weird. Kind of like I'm cheating on one barn with the other, or something. I feel like I'm being a little dishonest with both, isn't that strange? I suppose if I plan to continue this way, I should probably mention to both barn owners that I'm also riding at the other barn, but I am actually a little bit scared to bring the subject up. Oh well, I'll continue this way and see if I change my mind about anything. Certainly if I do the half-lease, that might change things a bit.

Edited to add: I suspect that Barn #2 wouldn't really care all that much that I'm still doing some riding at the other barn. But I do feel like Ro would be somewhat hurt or upset that I'm also riding with Apple Tree. She has been so great to me and she and her husband are such nice people, I really don't want to hurt her. I also really DO enjoy riding at her barn, so I am feeling pretty conflicted about it all.

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