I’m only posting this update 6 months later, but better late than never.
Before visiting South Carolina in October, my friend who lives there (further known in this post as SC friend) asked if I wanted to take some jumping lessons with her trainer. Since I hadn’t taken any jumping lessons since 2014 and it had been over a year since I had jumped at all, I was hesitant, but excited. SC friend set up my first lesson for Sunday morning. We had arrived from the road trip on Saturday night, so I had just enough time to rest up.
We arrived at the barn and I was told I was riding Ember. She’s a large pony mare who can be a little grouchy and is typically used for kids’ riding lessons. We got tacked up and headed to the ring.
We we did a little flat work and then it was time to jump. I was feeling pretty rusty, but all of my skills were still there hiding just below the surface. It felt good to still remember how to ride.
We started off with some ground poles, graduated to some cross rails and eventually started adding a few verticals to our course. I had been warned before climbing aboard that Ember had a signature move of dropping her shoulder before the fence. No big deal, I did my best to ride upwards toward the fences and keep my leg on. That worked well until we were cantering to a little wall and I saw a distance slightly longer than what Ember was comfortable taking. I’ve really only ridden horses, so it wasn’t programmed in my brain that I needed a little bit shorter spot. Ember dropped her shoulder, I dropped mine and I gently fell off. I landed on the opposite side of the fence. Dusted myself off and got up. I can count the number of times I’ve fallen off and been able to just get up and walk away on a couple of fingers. Nearly every time I fall, I either hit my head or another part of my body hard enough that getting back on the horse is not the most viable option.
However, this time I got up and I got back on the horse. Plus, I finished the ride. I even jumped the fence I fell off over and jumped it well. This was a big day for me. So much of riding has become a mental block for me and I convince myself I can’t do more things than that I can do. I did cry during the lesson and when the trainer asked me why, I didn’t have a good answer. It was just everything. I fell off and I wasn’t hurt. I got back on. I had become so afraid of falling off that I really wasn’t able to ride. This was a big breakthrough. I had fun, I felt accomplished and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to ride Ember.
I did get to take a second lesson in SC, but that deserves its own post.