I got an email from my trainer on Friday night asking if I wanted to come on Saturday to make-up the lesson we had to cancel on Wednesday due to storms. I hate missing my lesson for any reason and normally don’t get the opportunity to reschedule so I was definitely up for it. It also helped that the weather this weekend was gorgeous. When I got to the barn my trainer hit me with the big question: your choice, you can ride Louie or the red mare-rrari. I panicked!!! Inner monologue went something like this: “this is some kind of test…offer too good to be true…must choose safe reliable option…must keep pokerface-mare was way too much fun-must not let trainer know…” And before I knew it, I had asked to ride Louie. She said “okay,” with an ever-so-slightly puzzled tone, and off I went to pull the big man from the field. To recap, my trainer GAVE ME THE KEY TO THE FERARRI AND I TURNED IT DOWN. I don’t know what happened- my mind just couldn’t compute. I can’t believe I thought it was some kind of test. It was nothing more and nothing less than an opportunity.
Now I don’t want you guys to think that suddenly Louie has become Plan B or the worse option- he’s still my go-to guy and I am sooooo grateful I get to ride him. But, on my way out to the field, I couldn’t help but think “what did you just do?!” So in a not-so-subtle attempt to dig out of the hole I suddenly felt like I had placed myself in, I casually threw out to my trainer “not that I didn’t get a total kick out of riding red mare…she’s just…a lot!” There. Good. I felt better.
The lesson proceeded and we worked on stuff that I am especially terrible at- two point, half seat, ground poles, etc. and the entire lesson was a sad pathetic attempt to get Louie forward. I struggled so hard.
Then, as we were trotting so slowly around the arena we may as well have been walking, we heard a series of loud pops-like gunshots- followed by a huge CRACK and and then a loud WOMP. The horses that were turned out in the field ran away from the sound in terror. A giant tree had fallen in the wooded area adjacent to one of the small pastures.
Louie didn’t even flinch.
My trainer looks at Louie and says “gosh, he’s so good,” and then, because I am a smartass, I immediately quip, “See!!! I totally picked the right horse today!” We had to laugh because I don’t think there would be any question that the red mare-rrari would have blown her drop-top and I would likely have had the opportunity to practice my falling skills.
It was a strange afternoon because the lesson was absolute crap. My trainer called me in to the middle at one point because she was (justifiably) losing patience with me and she very calmly, and in lots of pretty words, told me to DO BETTER! After the lesson she apologized for getting after me and I almost laughed…if she only knew that publicly ripping me a new one was one of my college rowing coach’s favorite pastimes! I’ve got thicker skin than that, and even though I find myself a bit more in need of reassurance in this sport in particular, I am far more accustomed to the adage “if your coach ISN’T yelling at you, then you have something to worry about…”
At the end of the lesson, my trainer told me that even if I felt a little over-horsed by the red mare, I actually looked quite good on her and it would be really good for me to ride a horse like that. She also asked if I had ever thought about jumping. HAAHHAAHA EquiNovice purposely in the air on a horse?!