Monday, June 20, 2016

Just remember to breathe

That's what I keep telling myself.  No matter what else, just keep breathing.  Deep, reassuring, cleansing breaths.  It helps with everything.  And so does your comments regarding my last post.  I would like to personally thank each and every one of you who left such kind, truthful, encouraging, heartfelt words of advice and understanding for me.  I am so very grateful for your thoughts, and even more happy that you took the time to leave them for me to read.  They really do matter, and they help me so much.  So, thanks.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I only hope that someday, somehow, I can be helpful and encourage you in some small way that will be meaningful when you need it.

I was feeling so discouraged.  Like no matter how hard I keep trying, I never will get to where I'd like to be.  But I also keep reminding myself that I haven't been riding Eagle for very long at all.  Maybe 15 or so rides last year and likely 20ish  rides so far this year - all since the first part of May.  We've made progress, and that I can't deny.


I keep telling myself that anything in life that's worth having, is worth working hard for.  Our relationship and our future riding together is worth all the effort, the sweat, the failures, the tears and the fears.  :)  But the more I ride; the more opportunities I will have to savor those sweet, little successes too.  And every time I do something that makes me uncomfortable, and at times even makes me downright scared, will be all the more reason to smile and enjoy that triumphant feeling that I can do this.  I am doing it!  So sweet!

Remember to pray.  I was recently reminded of this too.  And oh boy, I do not doubt the power of this. Above all else, I try to remember to pray.  To ask for courage, and then go forth in faith that I have and am, doing everything in my power to be safe.  To keep my horse safe.  And then maybe most importantly, thank God that I've been given the desire to want to do this, to have love for these amazing animals, and the fact that I get to do this.  How awesome is that?  There are so many people in this world who might never get the chance to do something like this.  To experience these amazing animals that have the power to bring so much joy, to feel freedom and rejoice in their power!  Maybe that sounds idealistic and like I live in a fantasy world or something.  But this is how I feel when I'm around them.   It's indescribable really.  You simply cannot explain this feeling to someone who isn't blessed with it.  And that's how I feel about that.

Sit deep.  Another big one.  When I get scared, I can feel myself start to curl into that fetal position.  I just hate that!  At least I'm picking up on it, and can then sit back, sit straight, look ahead, heels down and seat deep.  Important stuff.  I've been re-learning to relax my hips, let them swing freely with the movement of the horse, instead of sitting rigid and putting too much weight in the stirrups.  No wonder my back gets tight and my knees seem so stiff when I've been dismounting lately.  Never before have I had knee pain, but the last couple of rides out around the orchard, well let's just say I now have more compassion for my dear hubby's knees.  After a long day trail riding, my ankles tend to get stiff and the bottoms of my feet can get hot, but I guess that's to be expected.  I just let my legs hang loose without stirrups and I'm good to go again.  Looking forward to being able to free swing my feet riding down some wooded trail with Eags.  Oh yes! So yes, we're making progress.  Slower than I'd like, yes - but progress nonetheless.  Important to remember.

So the other night Jess and I rode in the orchard.  I was timid, but not overly afraid.  I felt good afterwards and it was a good ride.  I rode two or three times during the week with hubby nearby in the outside corral.  Some good rides, some not so great, but time in the saddle is never wasted.  Last lesson was Thursday evening.  We did a little warm-up in the round pen and then headed outside to the orchard.  Jess mentioned that Eags was doing well, didn't require nearly as much trotting up and down the hills to persuade him that getting all strong and going "hulk" on her wasn't such a good idea.  But he didn't look tired to me.  At all.  No foamy cheeks or anything; and he'd spooked at some birds fluttering in the dry grass by the creek.  I saw just how much effort it took for her to get him back in control.  *gulp*  When we'd made the final loop, I knew what was coming.  She asked if I was ready?  Nope, I shook my head.  I wasn't looking forward to riding him that night, at all.  Not sure if it was the spook I'd witnessed or just what the deal was, but I did not want to get on him.  Nope, not one little bit.  But I did.  Jessica made me.  She's mean like that.  *sigh*

We rode about half the way around the orchard twice, and I had moments where I felt okay.  But mostly I was just plain scared.  Down to my toes scared.  Deep in the pit of my stomach kind of scared.  I hated it.  Jess reminded me several times to breathe, to look up at the clouds, feel the breeze on my face and smile because I was riding a magnificent Mustang who was looking to me to be brave.  She told me to relax my hips and remember to be happy.  I did everything she asked and it all helped.  For tiny little bits of time, it all helped.  Not sure why that day everything seemed so wrong, but it just did.  I can't explain it.

When we came to the finish spot, we sat there and talked for a little while.  I relaxed somewhat, but mostly because I knew we were done.  I did not want to end the evening like that.  I asked if we could finish riding in the corral for a little while.  Sure we can!  What followed was one of the best rides on Eagle that we've ever had!  Was it my complete and total relaxation at being in a controlled environment?  I'm not sure.  But whatever it was, it was good.  Eagle walked out and forward with relaxation and a good, working stride and I was so happy.  I think he moved with such forward and no hesitation because I felt relaxed.  I do believe I am the reason he's so hesitant on so many occasions.  I've always wondered, but now I'm pretty much convinced.  So, we ended last week's lesson which started out as the worst ever to it becoming the best ever.  Whoohoo!!  I've ridden him twice since then.  Both with my hubby riding Ladde in the corral.  The first one was awesome!  The second one was not so great, but okay.  Twisted Ladde showed up and I didn't want him to influence Eags, so I switched to riding Missy and we rode around the orchard because Ladde was in need of a little mental and physical exertion.  *sigh*  Horses!  It was all good's experiences come from taking chances.  Experience comes from having lived through those choices, good and bad.

We're all still learning.

Another lesson with Jess tonight.  Will keep you posted...


Kate said...

You are a very brave and dedicated horsewoman. I like your coming back into the corral to ride after being nervous riding out. That's the same technique we use with horses - having a safe area they're comfortable in and then pushing out a bit, then coming back to the safe area. Sounds like you're working with a good trainer and that will also help a lot.

Annette Mickelson said...

Some horses and people are more comfortable working in an arena and some prefer the wide-open spaces of the trail. I've had horses with definite preferences both ways and it sounds like Eagle may be an arena horse. I'm past the point where I feel compelled to "make" a horse like something that they just don't enjoy. Mostly, because it isn't enjoyable for me to force them and to feel their unhappiness/apprehension. Jackson was a joy on the trail, because he loved it. Tex loves it too. Neither of them do well in an arena. Lucy, on the other hand, loves the structure of an arena and can't handle the claustrophobia of riding under trees. So, I just ride her in the arena. Call me a wimp; but we are both happy there and in the end that is what matters to me. Mark Rashid said he believes horses are like people in that they have different strengths and interests; we need to work with our horses and not against them. He said it was fine to train a horse for the trail, that doesn't like it, but in his mind it was better to take an activity that the horse likes and build on it. Works for me!

aurora said...

Bravo, all of it!! You are making steady progress. SO happy for you!! If your saddle is making your knees hurt, might be time to turn the stirrups. Nice that you & your hubby are getting more saddle time in. Isn't it funny, how we never know which horse is going to show up, the lovies keep us on our toes!! Your trainer sounds wonderful, breathing is always a good idea *^*

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm proud of you for going through with the ride in the orchard even though you were scared. You worked through it and came out the other side. Breathing and relaxation is definitely the key. I'm glad you had a great ride in the arena. I believe it is because you were relaxed and Eagle picked up on your mood.

I had a horse (Erik) who was more comfortable in the arena even though he spooked quite a lot in there he was even more spooky out of it. My daughter actually took him hunting once and he gave her quite a ride. Luckily, she's a good enough rider to have stayed on while he was galloping off and jumping streams etc. I think you'll find where you and Eagle are the most comfortable as you go along. He may wind up being a great trail horse once he knows you're confident and relaxed and trust him on the trails.

I've learned that when I'm nervous if I sing or hum it helps too, that way you don't have to remember to breathe you just do. Think of a song you like before you get on and belt out a tune. Keep up the good attitude and good rides!

Linda said...

I like your **mean** trainer! LOL. That's awesome. Like all horses, there are good and bad days, good and bad moments, but you are developing that trust in one another little by little. And, she's right, you are riding a magnificent Mustang! How awesome is that? I really need to start working with Beautiful!!