Right. It was Thursday, and it was time to Tango.
I’m not giving up. It’s not the kind of stubbornness that makes me heedless, though. I know that if I get nowhere with him, if it becomes too intimidating or scary, I won’t ride him anymore. But I’m intent — my intention is to learn Tango’s moves, and to learn to trust him.
Can you convince yourself to trust somebody? I know from personal experience that the answer is: nope. What I can do is, in the parameters of the relationship, to take enough confidence from my own abilities, and yes, to trust myself enough, to be able to become competent.
Sounds awfully stiff, that. My plan is to learn to know how to deal with him, to keep my seat, get him listening, and not annoy him, to the best of my capability.
Still pretty po faced. Yeah, whatever, listen: this horse is rideable. His gait is fantastic (when you can get him to go.) He’s powerful, and it feels good to feel that power (when you can get him to go.)
So I want to get him to go.
I got him to go. The canter transition was tricky, again, and it’s me, dropping my contact. I’ve gotten this idea that contact means short reins, and that’s not it. So I paid attention, kept my hands up and strong, and we did well. I used the stick, if necesary, on his shoulder, practicing keeping his up. So, good.
And then we took a few fences.
I got nervy all over again. I’ve fallen from his height twice, a result of refusals, and I had that in my head. Ruth kept them low, and I was still bracing myself for the stop — which resulted in a very late assumption of the jumping position, and a bouncy landing back in the saddle.
We did a few in the trot, a few in the canter, which he prefers, it seems, and I noticed that my hands were coming down on his neck in the landing.
That’s how I jammed my thumb on Reb. That’s what I do when I don’t trust the horse, don’t trust my balance, don’t trust myself.
Well, that’s something. Having come from belting over a fence almost three feet high, to one a third of that (if that), it illuminates this trust business for me, bright as the sun. I’m tense on him, anyway: shoulders hunched, sitting too far forward, the ‘fatal position’ as Heather Moffat calls it, the urge to curl up in what, under any other circumstance, is the position of safety.
Any other circumstance, but not on the back of a horse. I’ve decided, in my head, that I’ll somehow convince my body, next time, to sit back, relax. Let the legs do the job they’re meant to do, and in so doing, communicate my ease to Tango.
It’s worth a try.