Luckily, I knew the answer to the question.
When told to take Amigo for my private lesson, I sagged inside. But I went and got his rug off him, and decided it was better to ride him one-on-one rather than struggle in front of a lesson full of people.
Sharon and I had a chat about him the other night, so I felt like I had a bit more of clue as to his skittishness.
I’ve been pretty sure that my hands had gone to rubbish after having been riding Rebel for all this time. Heavy on the forehand doesn’t even begin to describe it, but it has become clear lately that no matter the progress I’ve been making on my seat, I’m still relying too heavily — literally — on the reins for my balance.
I had been trying to canter in a circle, and it all went pear-shaped — again, literally — and I did the thing I’ve been promising myself I would do. I stopped.
Ruth asked, ‘What’s the problem?’ Not as in ‘What’s your problem?’ but, ‘What’s going wrong?’
‘My hands,’ I replied. Correct response.
Amigo requires a soft contact. Rebel… well, ‘firm’ is a kind way to put it. There have been nights when I was convinced that my fingers would never lose the shape of the three-fingered grasp that they take on the reins. With Amigo, it was like holding two hatching eggs in my palms. And whenever I lost balance and clutched — once more, literally — then he reacted with distress.
I don’t want to be distressful. So, now it all falls into place: I can actually keep my elbows down at my sides when I’m riding a horse that doesn’t want to drag on the bit, I must keep my back straight through the strength of my core, and my legs must be on and back on the girth. It all makes sense now.
It’s tricky. Amigo is large and lean, and his gait is like Charlie’s, long and bouncy, bouncy because I’m not as secure in the saddle as I am on the shorter-gaited Rebel and Delilah. By the end of the lesson, I was looser in it as well, and once I relaxed into his canter, it was pretty darn lovely.
And that’s two lessons in a row in which I felt like I accomplished something. Back on track, and we’ll see how we go.