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.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Winter Sunshine and conversations in the Stable

I'm still astounded how some people get this utter amazement factor when they hear I've done certain things. I'm no one special. Sure, I can't see and I understand why those with no sensory impairments can think, wow, she did that but to me, it's just another challenge that I've accomplished. I've been lucky with my parents, family and friends who have always kept me grounded and my mum especially who never wrapped me up in cotton wool. Guess that's why I'm so determined to do well, especially with horses. If I told you half the things mum allowed me to do, without thinking twice about my blindness, many of you would be shocked. Not to say she was irresponsible, but she wanted me to have the courage to tackle anything. Why am I babbling on about this? Just a conversation that took place yesterday after my ride. It wasn't even a long conversation but let me explain.

The tall, cheeky bay, who I've been riding for the past few weeks, is the tallest of our horses at the yard. He stands at 16.1 HH which is just less than a hand bigger than my Tall, white friend. He's also part thoroughbred. When one of the girls came in, to ask how the ride had gone, I replied it had gone well and she asked if we had had a canter today and I replied two nice ones. One of the other girls remarked, "You cantered? On *****?" The girl who had been having the conversation with me and the girl who had been running with me in canter replied, quite indignantly, "Yes, she always canters on him." The fact these two had defended the fact that I do canter, without issue, despite my sight just showed that they've seen what I do and have no issue with it. I've long known, the lady who runs the riding school, and the young lady who often takes us out and has helped me progress to this level already have little issue with my riding and being around the horses. Then, smiling, the girl who had been shocked at my willingness to canter said, "Well, I would be too scared to canter on *****". I laughed, and we all did, realising that she had been shocked, partly because of my vision but partly because of her own reservations of this gorgeous, tall bay.

Most of the girls at our yard are friendly and I think being around has shown them somewhat of how just because you might not be able to see, doesn't mean you can't achieve things like they can. It might take longer, you might have to learn in a different way but the playing field with horses in some ways, is somewhat level. I feel I can do most of what sighted people can do with horses. I'm not going to say all but I've achieved more than I ever thought myself capable of before starting this journey.

Anyhow, you heard I cantered and heard I had a good lesson but here are the details.

I was asked if I wanted to ride my tall, cheeky bay friend again. I agreed happily and went into his stable to brush him. This is the first time I've brushed him alone and he was a very good boy for me. I've become quicker and more efficient at brushing, took me long enough ;)

So one of the other girls tacked him up and off we went on the road route today. The sunshine was bright in the chilly, almost frozen morning air but there was a happy feeling and atmosphere on this ride.

Because there were patches of ice, my instructor had one of the girls run alongside me so if there were any on our path, she could tell me and prevent a horrible accident. I was following a smaller horse who only has front shoes on which is not that easy task to follow but somehow I managed it.

Rising trots are becoming so fluid and my position and legs were good on these yesterday. Practice makes more perfect every time. My hands were low and I felt the contact in his mouth was good.

We tried for a canter and got a lovely one where I was well in my seat and relaxed. Amazing now, after my huge pet talk to myself, how my hands are now staying forward. More trotting and a few on kerb moments. He's clearly now realising, ah, she's in charge, lets see how much I can get away with. Been there with another certain tall horse and he didn't get away with it either. I'm getting better about being in charge now and feel confident about telling them to do something.

My last canter was not as good, simply because my heels came up but I know why they did and that's an easy correction next time.

It was a lovely ride and I had a lot of fun. So until next weekend, wish it was sooner,


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