So I rode pony for a second time English, on Monday.
She is a very funny and forward little pony, and I am not exactly foolproof in an english saddle (I can count on one hand how many times I've ridden english, so who would be!)
So on Monday morning, I headed out to the ranch and figured I would get through all three gaits today english. I did wear a helmet (English safety!), and was all alone (the ranch was pretty empty, which is weird!).
I am usually pretty confident with horses, and I really like to push my limits on what I think I can do. However, I try to take the safest route when pushing these limits. So, to work with her, I rode her in the round pen! I thought it would be easiest to not worry about directing her, and only worry about my seat. So, we trotted one way, and then we trotted the other way, and then we loped on her left lead! And it was nice! very smooth, and I thought I sat it quite nicely!
And then, of course, to make things even, I had to lope her on her right lead! Well, I asked for a lope (oops, canter) and she gave it to me, then broke to a trot, then tried to pick up her canter again. I don't know if it was my seat that threw her off, or if I was hanging on her mouth (I really am pretty good about not hanging on her mouth, I often give her too much rein, which makes her a little crazy when shes allowed to go fast!) but something made her break gait, and boy it was not smooth.
In a western saddle, it wouldn't have been a problem. However, in an english saddle, I first lost balance, and then my foot went out in front of me. For those of you that have never ridden english, english stirrups go wherever you point them, unlike western stirrups that only have so much play to them. Once my feet were in front of me, I hung on her mouth, which scared her! She then squirted out from underneath me, and I went flying and ate dirt hard.
I have fallen a fair amount of times (all while trying to lope bareback, silly me, and twice when the horse I was on tripped) and usually I do a cute little step off and then fall on my booty. But let me tell you, there was nothing graceful about this. I landed hard, and ended up with sand all over me (for those of you that don't fall much, it gets in your buttcrack, up your shirt, your bra turns to sandpaper) oh its no fun.
So of course, what did I have to do? I had to get back up on her, sweating with anxiety, and lope her! Which I did. And what did I do after I cooled her down? I texted my trainer and said 'English was super fun until I fell on my butt, can you give me a lesson this week?'
My fall had scared me, but after years of gymnastics training, I have a pretty good fear tolerance. In gymnastics, if you get scared and you hit a block, there is nothing anyone can say or do until you man up and decide to do it. And the same holds true to horseback riding.
So today, I had a lesson with my trainer. In the trot, she told me what to fix and praised me when it was done correctly. When it came time to lope, we worked on the left lead first, Ponys naturally better lead. When it came time to lope to the right, I was scared. But what could I do? My trainer can't hold my hand through it, she can only position my body and trust me to do it. So I loped her. And we loped for a while, and lets be honest, it was a great lesson! It was so much fun! Lots of hard work, but I really got my confidence back, and I was so happy! I was also proud of myself, for simply manning up and doing it!