Pony Brigade

I rode my friends pony lasy Monday. Well, it may technically be a horse, but the mare is not very big. Maybe 15h’s.

I get to my friend’s barn, which is spectacular by the way, and find my friend, two of her friends, and her mom waiting for me. We chit chat and bit and then go out to tack up the horse.

My friend is tacking the mare up, and I ask her if she was planing on riding her first. She explains she can’t because of an injury (which she’d told me about a few days ago, but I had assumed she was off light-duty at that point). So it’s just me that’s riding. I was a little embarrassed by that since I felt like worthless goon watching her tack the horse up, but by then we’re ready to go. I take the mare into the indoor arena and hop on. I assumed everyone but the girl that owns the mare would wander off at that point….

Nope. They watched. I’m riding around feeling horrifyingly self-conscious. I’m flopping around, my stirrups are too long, and the mare feels like she has a knot in the middle of her neck.  I haven’t ridden in weeks. The only consolation I was holding on to was that the mom must’ve left because the viewing room was dark.

This mare is rather cunning and athletic… nothing I’m doing is working to get her connected back to front. I can get moments of non-bracing, but she won’t really release her back. My friend had explained that this is the problem she’s been trying to fix, along with several trainers and clinicians who’ve attempted to fix it. I try a few exercises that had worked like a charm on Ava, but the mare fights me on it. I didn’t want to start a battle I didn’t know if I could win, so I drop it and try something else.

I ask for the canter…. and nothing. I ask again and we trot along faster. I hear one of the friends tell me that that’s normal, but I suspect it’s how I’m asking.

I ask for the canter again and get surprised by couple quick little bucks. Then we’re off into the canter.  It scared me a bit, but then I’m super proud of myself because it didn’t unseat me. Confidence booster.

The mare tunes the rider out and braces her jaw any time you do a straight line for more than 5 steps, so I ask for a lot of circles and changes of direction. I drop her back down into trot across the center and pick up the new lead without any issues. She has moments where she listens and is easy to ride. Moments where it’s like riding a freight train with no brakes.

There are 6 eye balls watching my every move. I feel like I’m failing the big exam.

I try some shoulder-in on the mare and she floats down the rail.

I finish up my ride and was saying to my friend that this mare is a challenging ride. There are a few holes, and the mares past has made her defensive to the bit. But overall, my friend has done a great job with the training. I’m impressed by how easily the mare moves off the leg and understands the outside rein. Everything is there, it’s just that the mare locks her neck if you don’t constantly remind her not to.

We put the mare up, and we’re walking back to the viewing lounge when my friends mom pops out. She had watched the whole ride. Ack! She chuckles and tells me she shut off the lights in the lounge so that I’d feel less nervous about her watching me.

We’re talking in the viewing lounge about the mare and I’m commiserating with my friend about the issues she’s having. While talking the mom says it’s a shame I won’t give lessons. Me? Give lessons? HA! I tried telling her I suck, but I think she thought I was being modest. But, I look at where my training is at (Second level) compared to the whole of dressage (Grand Prix), and I’ve barely tapped the surface of understanding dressage. I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to teach. There’s so much I don’t know. And every day I learn that there’s even more I don’t know.

They asked me to come ride the mare again. I was thrilled they liked my riding enough to ask me to come back out. I really want to figure out how to unlock the mare.
It’s really bugging me to figure it out.

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