On Wednesday night I had categorically the WORST lesson I have ever had. I would choose falling off over the pathetic events that transpired.
I had high hopes despite having to cancel my lesson last week because over the weekend I had quite a pleasant ride with my friend on her two horses. Before my lesson, my instructor told me we’d be using a new bit on Lou and that his owner had had a fabulous lesson with this new bit. I was encouraged and excited to feel him become a little lighter as she described since he can get quite heavy.
I could feel it the second we started. I have felt him like this before and I knew. He used his usual set of evasions- 10 bathroom breaks, mini tantrums, barging, and very occasionally he chooses to just stop to get out of hard work. Maybe he’s got my number- I have no idea if he ever does this to his owner but NOTHING makes me feel more inadequate than when a horse stops trying. How do you guys ride though this?! We tried to do an exercise on a 20m “square” and he was all over the place. If I caught his shoulders and made him stand up straight into the turns then he would just plant his feet and ignore me. My instructor kept asking me, telling me, begging me to use my stick and I just could not do it. She kept saying I had to be consistent, I could not let him get away with ignoring my aids. I gave him a couple of really smart taps with the whip and we did some barely mediocre trot work.
She had me canter him and work towards lengthening and shortening the canter on a big circle. This was next to impossible for me since cantering is already my biggest weakness. He was heavy, lazy, and on the forehand for every transition so then everytime I attempted to shorten the canter he just broke into a trot. She kept asking me to use my stick and reins at the same time and my tiny brain was just exploding. He kicked out once when I asked him to pick up the canter. I lost my right stirrup in the middle of the exercise. It was like a nightmare montage of “use your stick!” “you held him for too long there” “use the stick in a rhythm not just randomly” “half halt and then you have to give” “but don’t just throw your contact away like that” “I would have tapped him three times by now and you haven’t once” “your STICK, use the whip” on repeat for the entire 45min. She said other words, she tried to help, but I know she just wanted to come out there and beat me with my own stick that I could not for the life of me figure out how to use.
We cantered, but I basically did all the work. I was exhausted, out of breath, out of ideas, waaaay past being out of patience, and straight into self loathing. The worst part about the whole thing is it didn’t even culminate into some kind of “come to jesus” moment- the lesson just ended. I accomplished nothing. I had the whole drive home to ponder how awesome that all was. I felt over-horsed on the easiest horse in the barn. I questioned if she’d let me continue taking lessons on him. I said a silent prayer that I wouldn’t F-up the horse I am about to lease, too. (spoiler) It was like an out of body experience where I sat back in the middle of the whole thing and thought “holy cow- this is really really BAD- I haven’t had a lesson this bad in a really long time, why I am riding so poorly?!?!”.
Everyone has had rides like this. I’ll recover. Any other reluctant whip users out there with tips on how to not be a giant pushover in the saddle?