These are from my series: Before Blogged. If they were all put together, here is what it would look like. (New ones will be added at the bottom.)
Chapter 1-My first Riding Experience
My first lesson was on December 11, 2011. I wasn’t scared, horrified, or screaming with excitement. Okay, okay, my heart was screaming with excitement but truthfully I was going through a mental process, I’m about to ride a horse. I’m about to have my first lesson. I’m about to ride a horse. I’m about to have my first lesson. I was completely flooded by different thoughts but I had about a thousand questions.
What would riding be like? Would it be what it was like described in the books? Before I began riding, I spent my time in the library checking out horse books and my time at home reading them-cover to cover, reading and rereading. Was it like how it seemed? When I first got there, every week I came to watch the lessons. Riding so seemingly flawlessly after a few months.
So I “mounted” the unknown horse (I didn’t know his name!). I didn’t know how to mount, let alone steer! But luckily there was a trainee to teach me the basics. Entering the arena I have to admit I was a bit nervous about riding. (Well, who wouldn’t be on their first time? You are upon a huge massive animal!). But I was also excited…super excited. Who wouldn’t be excited on their very first horseback riding lesson? I didn’t really know that feelings of a rider could affect the horse.
I guess my first lesson really wasn’t a lesson. Just learning how to halt, where to sit in the saddle, and how to get the horse going was enough. Where to sit in the saddle…yeah, I do have a reason for sticking it in that list. When I was riding around the horse was quiet and gentle. The gait was smooth and even and was slow. But suddenly it was bumpy and I jostled all over the seat! I had no idea what was going on until Christina called me over.
Christina told me to sit back in the saddle to make sure he doesn’t “jog.” You could say I was clueless and a mess in riding. Learned a lot more about halting when it was the “whoa thing.” I also learned about leaning back and how the weight affects the speed of the horse.
The lesson went by in a flash and I was learning how to dismount almost seemingly after I had mounted. I led the horse out and I was a bit dazed by everything. Riding, horses, this, that! I didn’t know much about how much I still had to learn. Even though my lesson had just ended seconds ago, I was immediately looking forward to the next lesson.
I learned that the adorable, mucky, dirty, brown horse’s name was Chevy.
I didn’t know that Chevy would teach me a whole lot. But later on I would think back to it and say, “I’m glad that did happen.”
Chapter 2-Learning to Lope
It was so hard for me to learn how to lope…properly
At first, it was riding the horse Rimrock. He is tall, bouncy and huge. I tried to lope him but immediately, I felt a sinking feeling. I watched others lope around the ring and it was my turn. I asked him to walk forward and followed Christina’s instructions to lope.
He picked up his head and he began jogging faster and faster. Faster and faster. It was so bouncy I felt like I was going to fly out of the saddle any moment. I was flopping all over the saddle until it was the end of my turn. I was tired and exhausted from bouncing around, but still, I petted Rimrock for trying.
I read hundreds, maybe thousands upon thousands of words about riding and there were parts about loping/cantering. Not one would tell me a tip, show me a thing. I knew there was only way to get loping was to try it.
Lessons after lessons, I would be riding and never seem to be able to get the horse to lope off. So many times I bounced around trying to get the horse to lope and by the time I felt like I could get it, my turn was over. First off was my cue unclear. Then it was my hand too high, restricting the reins, then I was restricting myself.
A lesson on Shamrock would show me. He was a very experienced lesson horse and he loved to show off. For a bit, it never happened to me. Until one day. He leapt into a lope happily and I had the ride of my life…for then and I sat on the horse, finally feeling the smooth and even gait.
However, that wasn’t the end of it.
Loping is one thing.
Loping with a “whitherless” horse is a nother.
It was a rainy day, horses were moody. And me-trying to lope on the whitherless horse-Chevy? The odds are low. Every single time I loped the saddle were tipping over and I felt like I couldn’t stay in the saddle. I had to stop every time to righten my saddle.
For some reason, I couldn’t find a way to straighten my saddle and distribute my weight over both seat bones. That day, we loped over and over again. Multiple times he was feeling too grumpy to lope and gave a small buck. I didn’t know until I watched the later videos.
But that wasn’t the only problem.
I had the problem of leaning back too far after I could get the horse going. Especially on Easy. I rode him multiple times and he was the first horse that would shoot of at his first chance for me. And he did when I asked for a lope. When I lean back too far, my bottom would come popping out of the saddle and slamming back down.
Week after week, maybe even possibly months. I kept having this problem. One day, I could lope Chevy properly without the saddle tipping. It was a good achievement, but next time, I wanted to lope properly.
Lean forward I was telling myself to lean forward, even if it felt weird. I was put on Tonto and when it was my turn to lope, I leaned forward and I was actually loping without slamming my bottom in to the saddle! My form wasn’t exactly correct. It felt more like I was standing in my stirrups and having Tonto lope under me and me not moving with him, but it was a goal that I had reached.
Next week, I improved even more. I was given the smooth-gaited Flyer. I asked for a lope and he did. It was so smooth it felt like floating in a forward motion. It was so smooth I wanted to feel the loping feeling. I cued the lope even more and he picked up the gait even more. I could finally feel the feeling of a lope.
Chapter 3-The New Horses
When I transferred to the “Beginner/Intermediate” class (12:00) (this was also during the loping problem), I met the “new horses.” They weren’t new to Garrod Farms, they were new to me. Most of the Beginner horses were gentle with beginners and knew how to deal with the jostling, yanking, kicking, and flopping around.
These horses were different. They were often super speedy, like Scotch. This was new to me. At first, I had a tiny transition when I rode horses like Kash. There was a change. I felt such a proud feeling when I felt Kash responding to me with the tiniest push of rein or leg. Unlike the lesson horses who tracked around the perimeter of the arena on autopilot.
The feeling of control was amazing. I had the control, but the horses knew what I wanted. Now there was a horse that would wait for my response. But occasionally the horse that would disobey. I met horses like Cabo, Tonto, and Scotch, who presented new problems.
Such as learning how to sit as bumpy of a jog as Scotch’s or learning how to deal with horse’s personalities. For instance, Tonto, at first when turning him, he would toss his head and refuse to turn but you had to really turn your seat and give him a bump with your leg.
Once I learned how to lope, it was the problem of learning how to sit weird lopes like Apache’s.
This was a fairly short phase in my horse life…and a rather insignificant one. But it was there…welcome new horses!
Chapter 4-Summer Camp Time
Although I could lope properly, I couldn’t really be supple while loping. But there came a point when summer camp started. When I heard that it was time to sign up for summer camp at Garrod Farms, I immediately printed out the sign up form and I was the first person in to sign up.
I was excited to sign up for summer camp. On the first day we had a mini test ride to see who would fit with which horse. I was assigned a chestnut horse named Star. He had no markings except a clean star on his forehead. I rode him fine and he had a nice little jog and was responsive. Although being a perfect riding horse there were two things that made him hard to care for: immensely hard to bridle and he wouldn’t drink out of the trough.
When I mean immensely hard to bridle-I mean that. He would back up and avoid being bridled and you had to follow him backwards and keep following him until the bit went into his mouth. He wouldn’t drink out of the trough so I had to fill a bucket, tote it all the way to him (which was furthest from the hose in our area) and hold it up for him to drink.
At first he had a hard time loping and would break down…a lot. He would have trouble picking up leads. But as camp went on, together we got better and better. He would lope without trouble and never break down.
Star was not only a good riding horse, he was a champion. I soon later learned that he had raw natural talent for gymkhana events. When we did bending races, the trip around the back barrel was a swish and he bent through the cones quickly and easily. When it came down to the tournament, it was Star who won. He was amazing when practicing the barrel pattern (although we could only jog it). Once during a game of Simon Says, There was only me and another rider on Seabiscuit (a little pony). It was time to lope and Star was a speedy loper. He went off at his fast lope and soon we were stuck behind Seabiscuit. We were slightly trapped between the rail and the horse because Star wanted to cut. I asked him to turn and he did a twist to the inside and we loped on, winning the game.
Then it was naming horse parts and doing horse care. I knew many of the things about horse care since I helped my friend with her lease horse. I read so many books about horses I learned so many parts of the horse. Too many maybe. Back then I wanted to learn as much as possible. I knew too many parts and I had to be quiet to let other campers name the other parts without me shouting out the answers. Learning the saddle parts I knew most of them except for a few. But I learned them. I even knew the parts to a bridle, but the bridles we had were simple, just a bit and the headstall. But I could even name the parts of the bit-the shanks, the port. There was no end to it.
One week of summer camp I had my weekly lesson on Saturday. I rode Arthur and it got better. I was better at loping. Summer camp continued and I had improved a lot through camp (daily lessons).
I loved riding Star, he was such an amazing horse about doing everything. His gait varied a lot. His jog can vary from a super slow western jog to a fast posting trot. He was so easy about picking up his feet and was friendly with other horses. He was nearly a dream come true. But he didn’t belong to Garrod Farms and he went back to his owners and I probably won’t see him again until August, when I go back to Western B camp (must go in order…).
Summer camp was such a fun experience. I couldn’t wait to do it over and over and over and over again.
Chapter 5-The Easy Class
I know this one sounds more like bragging, but I did have trouble in some areas.
There was this one point where all I wanted to do was enter the more intermediate class at 1:00. I wanted to have the more challenging horses, the more challenging lessons. I wanted to learn the things that we didn’t learn in the class I was in currently. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.
The next class was booked up and this class had to stay at the level of the riders. Luckily I got the chance to do some variation. Like riding more challenging horses. For instance, when Tonic was being stubborn in the class before, I rode him. Or riding the “impossible to lope” Arthur. Or the speedy gonzales, Travis. And attempting to halt from the lope. Trying to figure out if I was on the right lead.
Those things I did, but I wanted to learn more. Lateral work anyone? Two point? More posting without stirrups? Possibly even loping without stirrups?
But finally came that one day. Where I would move up to the next class. I was ecstatic and put on Centaur. I rode in the “new” class. But there was more to come.
Chapter 6-Horse Hike
Before all the loping, all the summer camps, and all the “easy classes,” I had a horse hike. Garrod Farms was a lot larger than I thought it was. It was huge. HUGE. At first I was worried with petting the horses and what the owners would think. But then I met Sunny.
He was a large (possibly warmblood), chestnut horse with a blaze. I let him sniff my hand and patted him. He was a sweet horse. But I reminded myself that not all horses would be as nice as Sunny.
I walked to another line of box stalls and one massively tall horse put it’s head over the railing which other horses couldn’t. Arco. He was a sweet horse and I pet him. He was huge. He loved being pet and would follow me around just to get attention.
Then I met Jet. At first I thought he was a large horse, but later on found out that he was a short little thing. But despite being short, he had a massive amount of muscle and was a quarter horse. He had a white face, large hooves, and the most beautiful blue eyes. I loved him so much.
Ali (short for Ali Baba) was one of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever met. And the most sweetest, and the calmest. He was a appendix (quarter/TB) horse. He was 15 when I first met him. He was a fleabitten gray. I helped his owner groom him. He was the first horse that I picked their feet up. And a good first horse to do that. He was calm and carried his own weight on his other three legs. He would pick up his foot without me even asking to.
I met so many horses. One horse I’ve never learned its name. Ever. Even till today, I sitll don’t know it’s name. It was a tall horse with a stripe and a bumpy nose. It was beautiful.
There was also Chip. He was dark seal brown with a bright mealy muzzle and star. He looked very similar to his neighbor (which I don’t know it’s name). He would follow me around in his stall. He stands with his lower lip hanging open.
Ranger was a bay and white overo paint. Overo wasn’t my favorite pattern of paint, but he was a beautiful paint. He was sweet and slightly taller. I loved him so much.
ne story is about a old mare named Summer. She was a liver chestnut with no markings. She always nickered to me. Always. She was so friendly to her and I loved her a lot. Then one day, she was missing. I searched everywhere, near and far. Then one day, I realized that her sign was gone. She wasn’t moved anywhere else on the farm. It couldn’t have happened.
All these horses loved me and I loved them. All the horses around them seemed to recognize me. When I walked by a year later they would nicker at me and stare at me. I met so many horses it would be impossible to list one of them.
One mare captured my heart. I first met her when I was walking by her stall. I saw a picture of a beautiful paint taped to the front of her stall. I walked towards the outside “mini paddock” of her stall and saw what appeared to be a beautiful, tall, sleek black and white pinto. It was so beautiful. A picture book horse. I clicked and kissed, begging it to come out so I could see what it looked like.
I lured it for a good few minutes. I asked, I begged, I pleaded, I ordered. Nothing would make it budge. I just wanted to have a better look at it and meet the beauty.
Next week I was walking by the arena outside of the mysterious beauty’s stall. There was a pinto galloping by the rail, being what I would later learned “turned out.” No this couldn’t be. I saw the star on the horse yesterday. It was here on this horse!
I met the horse and suddenly I realized which horse it was. It was the mystery horse in that stall! It wasn’t a black and white pinto. It was a bay and white pinto. It was beautiful with the roan on her withers and heart shaped splotch on her left side.
I learned her name.
Chapter 7-Different Horses, Different Riding
I realized something really important that would help me later on.
My second lesson, I rode a tall, long fleabitten gray named Rimrock. This lesson was the complete opposite of my first lesson. I would be trying to get him to do a circle around a cone and he would refuse to do it. He was stubborn and needed tugging around to get him to do something.
There was more instructing from the instructor and I was trying to grasp the tip of the ropes of riding.
Getting him to jog was difficult. He refused. I kicked him…well at least I thought I was kicking him and he wouldn’t do a thing. I kicked him a bit harder and he finally picked up a jog. Completely different from Chevy. If I thought Chevy’s jog was bouncy the first time this time it was jostling, bouncy, bottom jarring. I thought I couldn’t stand it until…
Rimrock suddenly yanked the reins down, sending a searing feeling through my hands. The ride suddenly seemed smooth and I realized that he had stopped jogging. I kicked him back into a jog and again he yanked the reins out of my hand. Most of the time we were jogging, that happened.
It happened for a few lessons and later I had realized, Chevy was a lot different than Rimrock. Rimrock had a long, lanky build while Chevy was round short and chubby. Chevy could have a shorter rein while Rimrock needed a long one to accommodate his long neck.
Before, I knew every horse had its own personality (or as I called it, horseinality), but this time I learned that the first time you rode a horse, you needed to be flexible and ride in a flexible way. If the horse does something, you needed to accommodate it and think why it would happen. As you learn the horse’s personality, you have to change your riding style to fit the horse’s personality.
That really helped me when I started riding the more advanced horses that had more different, distinctive personality…and I had to relearn that lesson…once more.
Note: All of the stories told here are true. They are not used to brag or accuse anyone. They are just telling a riding story.