This blog has taken an unexpected turn towards England. I’ll be back to the West soon enough, but in the meantime, here is the conclusion of my riding adventures this past winter.
Like most things, English-style riding looks easy. In practice, it’s not. I’m not sure if I ever looked graceful and elegant in the saddle, but I sure tried.
As I wrote in my earlier post, it was quite an adjustment moving to English tack, and an English saddle. I found that I was using my legs in a real way, first to give commands to the horse, and later, to try the gait that had always eluded me, trotting.
For me, being able to trot was at about the same level of probability as finding a unicorn. Walking is easy. Cantering is fun. Trotting made me crazy, and I inevitably ended up bouncing like a sack of potatoes. I could not get my motion aligned with the motion of the horse.
I tried to post, rising and falling in the horse’s rhythm. But something was off, and I ended up just making my legs tired. The instructor yelled something about diagonals. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Finally, I was told to watch the horse’s outside leg, and time my upward motion with that movement. I watched, and I did. It was awkward at first – part of my attention diverted to watching the horse, part of my attention diverted to keeping myself balanced, and part of my attention making sure I was still using the reigns.
There was a moment, though, when thought was suspended, and all the parts snapped into place. It was effortless. I was gliding, moving as easily as a feather in a stream. Gone were the jolts, the bounces, the dissonance that rattled my teeth and left bruises down my thighs. I flew, gently and gracefully.
It wasn’t a perfect lesson, and I am by no means a perfect horsewoman. But now I know what perfect feels like.
What’s next? Jumping, I should think.