When I first started taking lessons, I rode with a crazy lady who had lied her way into a training position. I was cantering fences and didn't know what my diagonals were.
After some drama, that lady fled to Canada (so the rumor goes) and another lady, who I think I've called the "classic master", took over. This lady knew her shit, but was seriously old school.
The structure of lessons remained the same: an hour of flat work, a break to water the horses, and roughly 45 minutes of jumping, followed by a trail ride.
Trail rides have been a part of my riding since I could tack up a horse. It's like a mental thing, now. I need silence and woods and a loose rein. I need the seemingly lack of structure to rebalance myself mentally.
When I first started working with Archie, before I bought him, we stayed in the ring. I'd spent the year-ish prior galloping a quarterhorse in the woods. I wasn't afraid of riding out there, but I was afraid of him. I'd taken him around the pond a few times, had a few hard spooks, and built up enough ball-busting fear to be petrified. Put me on a lesson pony and toss me in with a group of teenagers (they still bounce) and I was fine participating in races between the rows of trees. Ask me to take Archie back there alone or with another horse and I would turn around almost immediately.
|This pond and those woods, actually.|
Always wear a helmet.
When we moved to the crazy barn in Savannah, there weren't really any trails. If you've been with me since the beginning of this blog, you probably remember. It was a big.fucking.deal for me to walk him on the dirt road behind the pastures. I carried my fear with me on every ride.
|By the marsh.|
|At the end of this dirt road is the Vernon River.|
So Saturday, we set off and explored more and just spent some time walking in the woods. We had to have one conversation about walking by the ditch we normally use to go home.
|I tried to take him to a new place and he tried to convince me that we were going to die.|
|But, after making him walk until I decided to turn around (rather than one of his signature spins), I ceded. Way too many damn bugs because the water was right there.|
|So then we went the other way!|
|Not super long, but enough.|