Riding lesson: Good news and bad news

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We had our riding lesson, to mixed reviews. It was a bi-polar ride: we had the best ride we’ve ever had — and we had the worst ride at the very end.

My instructor came out and we saddled Isis up and rode instead of lunging first. For some odd reason, I put on my half-chaps and left my glasses in the car. Put on my hard-hat, mounted, and away we went.

We did the basics: riding on a 20 meter circle, bending, flexing, working on Isis to collect and respond more to my leg. She did very well going one way; less flexion to the other side. Boy did we have a workout! Lots of trotting… after a while you just quit noticing how much your legs hurt and focus on riding.

My instructor asked me to have Isis extend (to have more impulsion and action without going faster) at the trot, so we did. And Isis did it perfectly the first time! Reversed and trotted, collected, extended: again she did it very well (except when I was tired and didn’t keep her together). At one point I stopped to catch my breath, and asked my instructor how she thought we were doing. A vast improvement over the last lesson — so much so that she thought with a few more rides like that we’d be ready to show! Great news! I was stoked.

We did a few more things to test how Isis responds to cues, and each time shs did very well: stopping square, changing direction, moving out to a faster trot and then coming back to a slower one. She was awesome.

The last thing we tried was a canter because I mentioned that it was harder for me to sit, and I thought it was me more than Isis. So we cantered on a loose rein so Isis could canter and I could focus on getting my seat without worrying over holding her frame. We went to the left first, and then clockwise. She has a nice gait when she relaxes into it, and when I was finally sitting better it was much more comfortable for her too.

At least it was until she tripped… Crashed was the term my instructor used. We were cantering on a loose rein clockwise, and suddenly I was eating ring dirt staring at her hooves, Isis was on the ground facing the opposite direction, and my right leg was underneath her pressed against the girth. And I couldn’t move her off of me.

Isis thrashed once and kicked my helmet — then looked around like “What’s Mommy doing back there?” She was quiet after that. My instructor pulled Isis off of my leg. Isis moved a little, trying to get up just before she was actually off of me. She waited… and then stood up. Poor little bloodied and scraped nose and a skinned knee, but otherwise she seemed okay.

My instructor told me to stay still. She was quite shaken by the fall. I couldn’t relate to how bad it was because one second I’m riding the next I’m on the ground. I couldn’t move for a while. Just sat there. Wiggled my toes. Moved my knee. Moved my ankle. Nothing was broken, I was just badly shaken and could feel an impressive bruise on my lower leg.

After a few minutes, I got back on Isis and we rode for a few minutes. You know the old adage if you fall off a horse you have to get back on? It’s true. We rode for about five minutes or so. Just long enough to get me back in the saddle and to make sure Isis wasn’t lame. She was a little stiff on one side, but that was it. Amazing.

When we were untacking Isis and cooling her down, checking her over… I told my instructor that there are very few horses I trust, but Isis is one of them.

This was, by far, the worst fall I’ve ever taken. My leg is quite sore and I have trouble getting around. My knee, calf, and ankle are all swollen. But you know, my leg isn’t broken. The fact that I’m still alive is a minor miracle.

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