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Riding, Roman

[Riding] Just What The Doctor Ordered

So, I've been having what could politely be described as 'a really bad week.' One of those weeks where things just keep going wrong, until you finally are at the point of 'if one more thing goes wrong, I'm going to snap and just break down.' I'd been telling myself that riding would be the therapeutic balm to make the week better.

And then it looked like I wouldn't be able to make riding. Traffic was so terrible that I was still sitting on the bridge at the time I should have been halfway through grooming whatever horse I was on. It was kind of silly, but I just broke down and started crying, stuck in traffic. But at that point, committed, I figured I'd at least get to the stable and pay my fees for the month.

I made it to the stable driveway maybe 8-10 minutes before I should have been going into the ring, parked the Beetle, grabbed my helmet and grooming box from the back and literally ran for the barn.

I discovered that my one remaining classmate had withdrawn from the lesson due to scheduling conflicts, that our aisle helper had quit due to a personal existential crisis (exact phrase)...

And I discovered that I was assigned on Roman this week. Now, if there is any horse in the stable who I can groom and tack absurdly quickly, 'my' Roman would be that horse. Suddenly, this seemed doable.

I got into the arena only about 10 minutes late, and got up onto Roman. And for whatever reason, he was feeling up to the exercise today. He didn't fight me at all on getting moving, and we spent a bit of time doing steering and balance exercises.

I still sometimes have a tendency to cross Roman's neck with the reins when steering at a trot, because I got so used to having to steer one-handed with my outside hand while using a neck-strap in my early lessons. So this was an attempt to eliminate that. When Kara was satisfied with my performance, we moved on to something new: the crest release.

This, it turned out, was leading up to a special treat... my first /real/ jump. Before, it'd always been over little X's that Roman just sort of would 'hop' over. Enough to be fun, but... not a /real/ jump. This jumping X was high enough that Roman would actually leap over it, the full 'up and over' jump.

And the thought of jumping excited Roman. He started dancing in place, and bouncing happily, and when we took our first jump he practically radiated 'yipee!' aura. Kara let me finish out the rest of the lesson with about 10 passes over the jump, making sure I was using the crest release to avoid pulling on the reins. When the lesson finally came to an end, Roman was disappointed and kept twisting to look longingly at the jump again.

Took him out, groomed him and fed him a cookie, cleaned tack and talked with Kara about lesson and exercises in general, and about our missing aisle helper. Evidently, she had an existential crisis and decided she was wasting her life messing about with horses, and just stopped showing up until someone called.

We both considered this odd: as I put it, "when I had my existential crisis, I *started* coming to the stable." She noted when she had her own existential crisis, she quit her job and came to the stable to work as an instructor. (Pay cut, but she actually enjoys her job now.)

Then she headed out and Roman kind of 'horse-cuddled' me for a bit, wrapping his head and neck around me in that hug horses have. I put him away and gave the usual suspects (Roman, Cleo, Chester, Coalby, Banjo) their assorted treats -- I swear, two years from now I'll be feeding the whole darn barn -- before heading out myself.

Week's still been lousy but somehow, I feel at least a little more equipped to cope with it.


Short form... Western, yes, you remain in the saddle; it's a larger saddle and designed to hold you in place. Makes it slightly easier to sit for long, long days herding cattle.

English (and thus hunter/jumper, dressage, etc.), the saddles are smaller and it's all about balance. Since you can shift about to keep your balance in synch with the horse, it's easier to do things like riding after hounds into the middle of forests while jumping over logs to chase a fox or something.

Or, slightly more relevant to most modern riding, do show-jumping events. ;)