Hours 20 & 21: a Thrill, and a Spill

The past two hours have been VERY eventful, both in a good way and a bad way. Probably my two most eventful hours yet. Long story short, they were both with Indy. One ride involves our first verticals, …and the next involves our first bucking session, that, spoiler, ends with me on the ground.

Hour 20 (Friday, Jan. 11th)IMG_8010.jpg

Today, I had an amazing lesson with Indy: we jumped verticals together for the first time! (it makes me smile to look at her tucking her feet all nice like a hunter! Squee!)

The majority of the lesson was spent with a whole lot of kicking. We are trying to teach her to respect my leg through anything that we do, and we are making some progress…except that part of the reason we were doing that was because I let her get away with being slow over my two weeks of free rides with her.

eventually, we moved on to a line of poles. img_8013

which, before I could blink, turned into a small vertical.IMG_8012.jpg

and, believe it or not, we did it! a few good times too.IMG_8009.jpgThis is where Indy says “oof”.

The aim of the lesson was to get Indy to respect my leg and be more careful about where she puts her feet, and I think we made some headway on accomplishing just that. Today’s lesson was definitely a big adrenaline rush, but it means we are slowly turning a corner and that’s exciting! See you at the next hour!

Hour 21 (Saturday, Jan 12th)

I’m not going to lie. Hour 21 went fairly well, and then it plunged. Like, literally.

I fell off Indy for the the first time.

I don’t have any pictures, because it was a free ride and my mom wasn’t watching when it happened. What we were basically doing was repeating a smaller-scale version of what we did in Hour 20. Just kicking repeatedly, telling her that we mean business. The only difference was that she was more distracted. A gelding was in the arena and a friend was finishing her lesson with Indy’s pasture-mate and arch-rival, Tia. Other than that and the fact that I had to kick, all was well.

Where it started to go downward was when we went back to the line of poles that we did during our lesson. No jumps, just poles. Believe it or not, it took me several infuriating tries just to get Indy over the poles at the trot. I was starting to get mad. After we managed to do it a couple times, I decided to do it the other direction, and then be done. Going the other direction is logical, just to turn things around and make sure you and your horse are good with the exercise at every angle.

Of course, going over the poles in the other direction involves going into “the corner.” It doesn’t bother me, but for whatever reason, she just doesn’t like that corner. In the last post where i talked about feeling a little baby hop that terrified me, it took place in that corner. But what was about to happen was more than a little baby hop.

It was hailing lightly outside, I was a little bit angry with how stubborn she was, and I had to keep kicking. We entered the corner after circling a few times. I didn’t even get her to go over the poles once before she absolutely lost it and bursted into a canter.

I was probably on Indy for over thirty seconds of frantic cantering, hopping and bucking in big bursts. Just when it seemed she was going to quiet down, she bursted out again. Even though I was screaming whoa at the top of my lungs and crying like an idiot, I used all the things I have learned. I sat back in the seat. I jerked the reins. The closest I got to stopping her was when I remembered to do a one-rein stop. I grabbed the left rein with my right hand and cranked my left hand as close to the bit as possible, and then I jerked the rein as close to my hip as possible, and Indy began to circle. it’s what to do to slow down a bolting horse. Sadly for me, the rein just wasn’t short enough and Indy burst out of the tight circle.

Then I lost my stirrup on the right side. I knew I was on my way out, and I stayed on for five or so more seconds before falling into the very depth of the corner. Of course I was crying like an idiot, but I knew that I was not hurt and I was grateful. Indy slowed down immediately and stood still before Bethany grabbed her and got right on. Terrified, I watched as Bethany taught Indy a lesson. Indy repeatedly tripped over her own feet in the chaos and it looked as if she would fall, bringing Bethany with her. But Bethany knew what she was doing, and eventually she brought Indy to a relaxed trot and a flowing, perfect canter in the same corner where she dumped me. Trembling, I got back on Indy and trotted for half the arena. Then I got off and put her away without another word.


Now it is Sunday and I am at home cleaning my saddle and bridle. It’s relaxing and satisfying and it allows me to think a little bit about yesterday’s ride. It might be hard to believe, but despite the obvious flaw, the ride wasn’t total crap. When put into the situation, I did all I could and everyone was beyond proud and supportive of my efforts, even though they didn’t turn in my favor. In fact, we even laugh about it a little. I crack up thinking about my dirt angel in the corner near the jump standards where no horse walks.

I’ll also point out that of all the time I have been riding and learning at Feather Run Farm, that was the first time I ever fell off in that arena, where I have ridden hundreds of times. The first time that I get off a horse that isn’t standing still and about to fall asleep. It’s my seventh fall.

Indy, of course, is still Indy. Our next ride won’t be fun, that’s for sure. I haven’t ridden since. But sometimes a fall can teach you so much, and it’s all part of the way it works with a horse like Indy. Working through and embracing everything Indy has to offer has shaped my riding more than any other horse has, and it’s been an exciting journey. She’s a forgiving horse, and will be ready whenever I get on next.


in the end, I still love my baby girl, and we’ve got more things to do! See you then!IMG_4838

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