Hands Free

Yesterday my parents came out for the afternoon to watch my riding lesson and to have dinner. It was quite the lesson… I was in the arena, which to date has been more exhausting than my longer trail rides. I think it’s because of the intense focus. This lesson started out a little tough… I was too focused on the fact that my parents were watching, my saddle was all wrong (we messed with the stirrups a bunch and finally ended up completely switching saddles), and I ended up changing horses. Once I got settled in on Rosie, I was good to go! I hadn’t ridden her before and she was a little more mellow than the other horses I rode, which was good because of the skills I had to practice. I also got to practice wearing spurs!

Rosie Loping In The Arena
Rosie Loping In The Arena

We started with the normal arena work – walking, trotting, and loping. A key thing that I’m working on is anticipating the horse – Rosie wanted to stop at a bale of hay, so I had to practice motivating her past it before she broke pace. After a while of that, my trainer said that we were going to move to the circle arena to practice balance. I had no idea this meant riding without holding on. Not that hanging on to the reins really holds you onto the horse, but in my head it sure does.

Rosie would walk/trot/lope around the arena and Dana would make me do all sorts of fun things with my hands:

Hands Out
Hands Out
Hands Across
Hands Across
Hands On Your Head
Hands On Your Head

While all of this was happening, my trainer was standing in the middle of the arena with a whip. Don’t worry, she doesn’t hit the horse. She would step toward Rosie and flick it, which would make her turn toward the fence and change direction. Keep in mind, we’re loping (which is a run). Rosie is a former cattle cutter, so she can spin on a dime. Dana told me to watch her ears, which didn’t make sense at first, but sure enough, her ears would signal which way she was going to turn and I could shift my weight to stay balanced. It was terrifying and so much fun! I definitely need more practice – my instinct was to grab at the saddle horn. Rosie was awesome… I think I was more exhausted than she was!

Rosie & I
Rosie & I

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