I think understanding my fear and talking about it openly, helped me ride Chloe yesterday. Having Eli there was also a big part of it. Through her I could see Chloe as I had always seen her until recently. A pony I could trust.
After I told Eli about my fears she lunged Chloe (made her run and walk circles on a long line) to see what kind of mood she was in. A little out of practice, Eli said, but other wise she was fine. She told me that Chloe never bucked or threw anyone in all the years she had her. She saw no difference in Chloe, she was the same pony Eli knew and trusted to help her teach young girls how to ride for years.
Then Eli asked me if I wanted her to ride Chloe first. But at that point I was feeling pretty confident and when I got on Chloe’s back I felt none of the fear. It was like the first time I sat on her and every time after that until recently. I felt more than comfortable, it was like I belonged there.
So we had a lesson, me and Chloe riding around Eli as she gave directions and corrections. And every so often she’d ask me if I was breathing. We laughed, and she corrected me over the things I didn’t do right, and she was the biggest cheerleader when they did. When Chloe inevitably decided she was done and started walking towards the barn Eli instructed me on how to bring her back. She could see that I was giving Chloe mixed messages, holding the reins too tight and kicking her at the same time. Stop and go was what I was saying. So I let up on the reins, focused on the fence post down the hill and kicked with my heels. It seemed like a long time to me, but Eli said it wasn’t before Chloe’s ears followed my shoulders and gaze and she started moving forward.
Small steps we took from the fence post to the over turned bucket to the cluster of tall grass. Not going back to the barn until I said so. Chloe was tired and so was I. We hadn’t ridden for that long since I got her. I realized afterwards that I usually stop at a point when I get tired and discouraged. But working with Eli, I pushed past that point. And when we were done, I felt a high like I had drunk just the right amount of caffine, only without the jitters. I felt like we really accomplished something together. And physically I could feel it in my muscles too, like I had done some hard work. Achy but strong.
Eli and I hugged more than once and promised to get together for tea next week. And I have a new way of working with Chloe. I just got a lunge rope, so lunging will now be a part of what we do. Also, I’m going to practice those short distances, going from fence post to bucket. This will allow me to think about my seat, legs, the reins in my hands, my shoulders and point of focus. To achieve small victories.
I’ll never really know what happened to make my young friend tumble over Chloe’s head when she rode her. It could have been a number of different things. And I know it can happen to me someday. But I’m not afraid of it anymore. Just like I’m not afraid to get in my car and drive to the post office. Or hike alone in the woods. Sure something bad can happen, but something good can happen too.
7 thoughts on “Chloe, Getting Back on My Pony”
Awesome..I knew you could do it!!!
Maria, I love how you describe the whole scenario. Reminds me of my riding lessons, which started at a late age. My trainer gave the exact same instructions and guidance as Eli. And, yes, she had to remind me to “breathe”. She always wanted me to end on a successful note, not just for me but for the horse as well. I just love reading about Chloe and you. Thanks for sharing.
Maria, sometimes people sit incorrectly on a horse and your friend might have been sitting too far over the vertical. I’m glad to see that you are lunging Chloe wearing her out before you go on a jaunt. Lunging and round pen work wears horses out so that by the time you hop on their backs they aren’t as “fresh.”
OH Maria, this made my day. So proud of you. So excited that you have a new way of looking at the situation that is helping you.
So many many people stop, get discouraged and give up when horses scare them. Not very many think through the reason like you have.
Thank you. You’ve helped me out of my thinking ruts.
Good job! as far as not knowing how or why the girl fell, the couple of times I ended up doing an unplanned dismount, I too had no idea how or why it happened. Looking back, I still don’t. I just stayed loose, baffled, but lose with a puzzled horse looking down at me (probably also didn’t know how I ended up like that). Stuff like this prevents us from getting too cocky, so no fear of that happening. Great that you have Eli to work with you, she is certainly a dedicated trainer as well as a nice person. Enjoy your mini vaca and rest those muscles, riding is a real workout. A jacuzzi would be nice or just some relaxing time without feeling compelled to ride.