Adventures of a Rusty Rider
Though I have fond memories of cantering Copper bareback and brideless
back to the paddock after his days work at the riding stables was over
for the day, that really only proves what a very good memory I have as
those days are so far in the past as to be ancient history.
Returning to riding after a twenty-five year break, I find that nothing
remains of that carefree and confident child. At least for me, it seems
that riding a horse is not at all like riding a bike.
The first challenge to overcome sounds so easy. 'Relax!' my instructor
kept telling me. She could see tension in my carriage, in my arms and
in my jaw that I was not even aware of. That is I wasn't aware of being
tense until I got off after the first lesson and unclenched my teeth.
Despite this inauspicious beginning, I was quite committed to regaining
at least a little of my former ease and confidence on horseback. Money
and time constraints meant that my lessons were restricted to one hour,
once a week.
No wonder I didn't progress as quickly as I would like. The first half
of every lesson would see me frantically trying to recall the small advancements
made in the previous one. Though at one time leg aids and half halts
must have been second nature, now my body treated these methods of communication
as an alien and totally incomprehensible language.
My seat was insecure, my hands heavy and my co-ordination of leg aids
so awkward that whatever mount I was on no doubt that I was talking
an alien language too.
What I found that helped enormously was researching the principles that
my poor instructor was finding herself repeating to me every week and
visualising using them before the next lesson.
So here, broken down into the smallest of steps, are the articles and
pointers that most helped me knock some of the rust off my long-neglected
The Riding Seat
The Half Halt