I haven’t written the last two times I’ve gone riding. Both times I had good but uneventful lessons, but more than that, there was a great deal of upheaval in my life for the past month or so. Riding was a wonderful respite and distraction from all that was going on, but I didn’t have the time or concentration to reflect on the lessons or post here.
Now that I’m finally settled and unpacked in my new place, I’m ready to start my new life. Today was my first weekend day waking up here and my first post-move lesson. Part of the upheaval I spoke of before was a big fear that certain aspects of my life wouldn’t be able to continue; riding was the biggest. Living in this city alone is insanely expensive and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a place that was within reason. But I did, so I can afford to keep riding. It’s a huge relief to not have to sacrifice the things I love most in order to make change in my life.
Today I rode a horse I’ve never ridden before, Mason. He’s a small, somewhat green chestnut with an incredibly sweet and willing disposition. His responsiveness reminded me a bit of my old pal Allie from Kensington, but it came with none of Allie’s mare-like sass. Last time I rode, two weeks ago, I was in the middle of everything. I was tired, worn down, anxious. My trainer suggested Mason for me then, but I was relieved to see that someone else was riding him. I couldn’t bear the thought of a new mount, especially since we were still riding outside and the weather had finally turned. Even a horse you know well, have ridden all summer, can be a totally different horse when it gets cold outside. Instead, I ended up riding Jasper last time, much to my relief. He is so solid and reliable that I was able to push away all the worries in my head and just be with him, feeling safe and comfortable.
This week I was prepared to ride a new horse. Frankly, I haven’t ridden a horse there that I’ve disliked. Even the ones I didn’t really click with were still good mounts, well-trained and healthy and willing. Mason is pretty special, though. I didn’t have to ask twice for anything. He’s a forward, good mover. He actually moves like a larger horse than he is; I was reminded of this a couple of times going down the line. I got out of sync with him on the second jump a couple of times, forgetting about his compact frame and smaller stride because he felt like he was eating ground like a larger horse. His jump has so much heart, too. It was fun feeling him pop over everything with gusto even though we only jumped cross-rails today. Jasper can’t even care about a cross-rail. Until we get cantering and get some height on the jumps, he’s perfunctory at best. But Mason is right there, giving it all for every jump.
There was another new thing…we finally had to come into the indoor arena. It’s not that cold today, low 50s, but our trainer didn’t trust my riding buddy’s mount not to be a frisky basketcase outside. So instead we shared the indoor with a grand total of eleven horses, hence only jumping cross-rails. What a shitshow. Half the lessons are very young riders who don’t have the experience or wherewithal to control their horses enough to stay out of each other’s way. There are several trainers in the middle of the ring, strolling around and calling out to their students. It’s a little crazymaking. But it’s do-able. It’s going to be what our lives are like for the next few months, barring any (ohplease, ohplease) warm spells. At the very least, it will force us to pull back a little bit, focus on fundamentals, since we won’t be able to jump courses inside. It’s going to be very good for me, actually. I can get caught up in the drama and excitement of running around over fences, but I really do want to take my time and get to know myself as a rider, to get strong, get good habits, get a better sense of rhythm and firm my position. That’s what this winter will be about. And I kind of feel like that about my life as a whole as well. I’ve just come through a tough time and I’m feeling free and hopeful and ready for adventure. But I also need to take things slow, take time to heal and to do those same things I want to do with my riding: get to know myself, get strong, get good habits, get a better sense of rhythm, and firm my position. I’m ready.