Alternate titles: The First Time I Fell Off Macy, Lessons within the Lesson, or, my favorite: The Sh*t Show
Tuesdays lesson was set up for disaster from the beginning. I had asked for a jump lesson and we decided days ago to go out into the new jump field and hop over some of the xc jumps that had recently been placed out there. I told Sarah I wanted to see what Macy was like jumping out in the open.
It was so windy. I mean so so so windy. I couldn’t keep the end of my reins from flying all around. But, because we are eventers, and because I am stubborn, I thought, “It’ll be fine, I need to practice jumping in a new place with less than ideal conditions. What will I do if it is windy at a show? I’m way too cheap (and proud) to scratch.”
That was MISTAKE #1.
Macy was on fire from the get go. I couldn’t hear a thing Sarah was screaming at me, so it looked like I was just ignoring her. It is INCREDIBLY frustrating to know you are not doing what your instructor wants but you cannot hear her and change anything. On top of that, the beast you are riding is trying to gallop back to the barn and/or feels like she is about to EXPLODE internally.Then, when I could actually hear Sarah, she was telling me to kick Macy forward, but it is petrifying to kick a horse forward (or do anything other than grip uncontrollably with every body part) a horse that you think is going to EXPLODE. Or it is for me at least.
This was when I realized riding Macy, a hot unpredictable TB, was MISTAKE #2.
What I would have given to have the safety and comfort of Georgie. Instead, I felt like I was going to fall off, be reared off (she never reared, just felt like it) or shook off by her enormously strong neck. I DID sit up and ride and TRY to make things better, but in order to hear Sarah I had to lean in, or cock my head ever so perfectly, and that would throw everything out the window. We did this for about 30 minutes but it felt like eternity. I was miserable and wanted to just throw in the towel with the mare.But I didn’t. And my intelligent instructor decided that yes, we would jump, but we would work on relaxing the horse (and rider) by trotting jumps AWAY from the barn. Before we get into that, I would like to share two classic quotes from Sarah that I was actually able to hear during the lesson:
“Well now she’s just being sour. KICK HER!” (When Macy was running through her shoulder and essentially trying to tear back to the barn)
“No, that’s just what she does. She’s a bitch.” (When Macy was not listening to a thing I was asking and was dragging me around the field and I asked if I was doing something wrong.)
So, we started by jumping a small barrel thing. It went fine. I actually think we did begin to relax. I was able to work on my position. On the backside of the jump I need to stay up out of the saddle, continue to let my elbows move and ignore her head tossing, bolting, crap.
We moved on to the next jump. It was a narrow coop with two standards that had wooden cutout watermelons on them. At the beginning of the lesson, all the standards had blown over so Sarah put each upright as we went to the jump. Same routine for this one, trot to it, land and halt.
Great! We trotted to it and about 3 strides out, the standard blew over, towards us, and Macy came unglued.And I landed on the ground. Totally fine. But on the ground.
Macy took off and after making sure I was ok Sarah said “She’ll probably gallop back to her pasture. We can go get her there.”
MISTAKE #3: Don’t ride a horse whose owner knows where they run to when they have dumped their rider. 😉
Got her, got on her and came back to the STUPID watermelon standard. I made Sarah stand there and hold it upright. We got over it. Not pretty, but together.
I then jumped this stupid jump like 6-7 more times. It went ok, but Macy was getting agitated on the back side and making it tough on me. It just wasn’t fun. At all.
I felt like we had been out there for hours, but the lesson was literally 50 minutes long start to finish. I’ve never been so miserable in a lesson to the point that it felt way longer than it was.
When we got back to the barn and out of the God forsaken wind I was able to process all that had happened. I really don’t care that I fell off. I’ve basically been waiting for that to happen and know it will again. But I just wasn’t sure I had it in me to deal with the bullshit of the lesson. I hate spooky horses. I have a tough time with hot horses. Put them together and I’m clearly totally miserable.But then I realized that I’m completely starting over with Macy. Not only am I starting with a new horse, I am starting with a completely different kind of horse. And that isn’t going to come easily or without a serious learning curve. Do I want to take that on? Yesterday I wasn’t so sure.
Today the answer is yes. (Is this MISTAKE #4???)I’ve already learned how to be a better rider in just the few weeks I have been riding Macy. I REALLY want to be able to ride a hot horse for the mere fact that it’s a great tool to have in my toolbelt in case of needing to problem solve for the future. But I want to do it on my terms. If its windy AF I don’t want to ride Macy in the wind in an open field when I KNOW she is going to be batsh*t crazy. I don’t have anything to prove with this mare (and she certainly has nothing to prove with me) and I’m not riding her so I can teach her a lesson or get her to be safe in situations like that. I’m riding her so I can learn from her. Safely. And see what might be fun to do with her. She’s not my forever horse, she is who she is, and hopefully with that arrangement I can still have a good time with her. Does that make sense? I guess in the end I feel like I need to change the way I look at my partnership with Macy and it may not fit into my normal plan. And I think that’s ok.
I’m still signed up for the recognized show in June, but honestly, if I get there and she is crazy, I’m not going to force myself to ride just because we are there and I paid for it. If I get to a lesson and she’s crazy, I may ask Sarah to hop on her and work her a bit for me. I just want to be safe and have fun. And I think it’s possible, and as I get to know Macy better, I think it will become easier.
So, that’s where I am today. And we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings!