The indoor arena is still under construction, but luckily, the weather held. Windy, though— and we were in the upper outdoor arena.
It’s big, and heavy with sand, it’s where the polocrosse happens, and the jumping competitions. I had watched Rebel in the previous lesson, and he was particularly stroppy, running out from jumps and napping. His rider for that hour is accomplished, and I was… resigned. Luckily, the pressure to have a good hour is officially off, and I figured even a few good minutes would do.
There was a polocrosse lesson going on, and we were relegated to a fifth of the space. Lots of circles in the whipping wind, and Reb was literally chomping at the bit. Until, of course, it came time to canter. He stopped, and I wielded the whip [still can’t call it by a name, despite Jules’ excellent suggestion in the comments here, and we got going eventually.
Did I mention that I was riding without stirrups at the time? Yeah, kept the auld balance, and in effort to get him going, immediately took him into a twenty metre circle. Independent riding— good for me!
Then Barbara, a new instructor, had us gather our reins in our outside hands. Mmm, ‘kay. We rose in the trot with our free arms held down, held out, held up in the air, and nobody fell off. When she told us to canter, we were all gobsmacked, but, as well trained as the horses, we did as we were told…
And it was amazing. I was too focused on getting going to accept any guff from Himself, and off we went, and it was as if my arse had suddenly become one with the saddle. I had the feeling that I am starting to get when I canter, of actually doing it properly, and it stayed and stayed and stayed. When we were done, Barbara asked us what we thought.
‘It was amazing!” I bellowed. ‘Why? Why was it like that?’
She explained that when we have something to lean on, to rely upon, we use it to the detriment of something else that can work as well, if not better. By releasing one hand from the reins— and, in all honesty, hanging on for dear life with the other, thereby, I reckon, keeping Reb firmly on the bit— I released down into my seat, and it was awesome.
I freely admit to having a snobby attitude towards Western riding. Even having done it on my beach ride in Spain, I haven’t had much respect for that style. Now I think I’d like a Western lesson or two. There was something so freeing, and yet so solid about it.
When we went into the indoor, I called out to Gary, ‘It was like we were cowboys! Didn’t you feel like a cowboy?’ I thought we were all great— The Magnificent Seven! Er, even though there were only four of us.