I didn't start learning to ride until May 2010 and for the entire summer of that year was injured. My first year of riding was not that solid but since April last year, I've not missed a ride. I can walk, sit and rise trot, canter, and have started learning transitions and diagonals on a variety of horses. Come and join me on my adventures with my horsey friends all done with no sight on my part. don't feel afraid to ask me any questions. being blind and a horse rider is new, interesting and very exciting. So I hope you can gain something from reading this.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Big Steps Forward

Before I talk about the actual lesson yesterday, just want to celebrate the fact that I didn't get lost yesterday and did the route completely without issues. That was a huge plus and made my mood so happy before even beginning the ride yesterday. I just thought I'd share. Thursday's lesson: Well, I mounted my handsome, tall, white friend and we set off on a walk we've been doing a lot recently. I'm noticing more and more as I do this route that I'm remembering parts of it too which is a good thing. Being mobile with the cane or my guide Dog Bailey is important to me and although during riding I'm not going to be going off on a ride on my own, it's something I want to do in a secure area once I have my own horse. So the fact I'm remembering routes without specifically learning them is a good sign that remembering a familiar path on a safe set route may be an option for an independent ride one day. And just to make this clear, there would be zero road work independently and it would be on a property that I knew well and only when I was confident would I take those steps. I'm just saying, it's something I wasn't sure I could do on horse back but I think with some work once I'm more of an accomplished rider, I could do independently. Going up the hill was a bit of a chore. The horse was dragging his hooves a little but with a few encouraging squeezes and a nice trot he began to step out nicely. There's one field that the owner of the property allows us to use and so cantering can only be done on this field and a back lane during this particular ride. When my instructor asked if I was ready for a canter, I asked if it would be OK if I tried to canter without holding my saddle this time and hold my reins. I'd been thinking about this for a few days now and was coming to an internal conclusion that maybe if I did, I might be better positioned to get the horse into canter and keep him there more efficiently. She said if I wanted to try, as she had no problem with me trying because my balance apparently is very good, then I should go ahead. The first try, due to my own nerves and tension turned into a very bumpy trot. But I wasn't giving up that easily so on my second attempt, my instructor asked me to keep my hands together as normal, low over the horse's neck and not to pull back once we started as that would tell the horse I didn't want him to canter at all, therefore sending mixed messages. And so put the legs on, sit in your seat, hold your hands together and low over his neck and don't pull back once you start. Leg, seat, hands. Right, got it! And so off I went again and this time got a few good paces out of him. She let me do it a third time, my hands slipped and yet on the fourth, I got the best out of him yet. It felt so beautiful! Almost like you're flying on the back of a powerful creature. I loved it! I definitely feel as though my cantering will only improve from here. I just felt I'd got the idea of what cantering felt like enough during the weeks I've been doing it but now felt like holding the saddle was only holding me back. Sometimes, to progress you need to change the way you're learning. Another thing I noticed which I hadn't before is that my feet are no longer flying out of the stirrups during cantering which can only mean I'm getting the heel down in all strides perfect. Yes, go me! :) I hope Tuesday brings much more improvement with my cantering. To the point where I can keep the horse in canter for as long as I need. I know it's all about staying in my seat, and hands not pulling back as we move in this gait that I absolutely love. After my lesson, in which we did some lovely trotting too which I can't imagine I had the same frustrations with now, I took off his bridle and loosened the girth strap. I can happily lead the horses in and out of their stables now with a little guiding from the person with me. I also was having lots of fun playing a bizarre game with another horse before I left who was trying to eat me. I know horses play with each other but when a 16.1 horse decides to play, lets eat Marie's cane or Marie herself in a very playful way, I was amused. It's strange, even I am surprised with the things I'm learning I can distinguish. I knew he was just playing and not being aggressive, I don't know how exactly but just something in the way he was doing it didn't alarm me in the slightest. That made me happy. On Sunday I'm off to a horse show so I will blog how my first experience of being at one is like when I update you on my Tuesday lesson. Thanks for reading and until next time, Marie

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