Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Half Ass School of Riding

As many of you may know, and a few may not know, I am in what we like to call the Half Ass School of Riding. Let me explain, about two years ago, I finally got my chance to ride a horse. After 24 years of living in Kentucky, I finally don't have to acknowledge the "sin" of being a true Kentuckian and never having ridden a horse. I began on the best, and we use that term lightly at times, lesson horse we could find, Riley (the poster child of Team Riley Eventing). He was perfect; lazy when he wanted to be and not really that spooky. The only thing he really didn't like was the large pile of wood along the trail. Apparently he has heard that there was a giant monster living in it.

Thus began the Half Ass School of Riding. My very patient (which is odd to say) teacher: Maggie

I started out just hacking along, learning the reins, how to turn, keep my heels down, keep my heels down, oh and if I forgot KEEP YOUR HEELS DOWN! Just recently I got a compliment on how I keep my heels down by Julie, at least I've finally learned something.

It was a very slow going process, ask me to play any sport involving a ball or me not being in control of a large animal, I'm pretty much golden. It also didn't help that after that summer I moved back to Louisville for work and only saw the Maggie and the boys on the weekend. I know Riley loved it. It meant that he didn't have to work hard that day and that he got twice the treats. Then came that fateful day when Riley got leased. I didn't have my lesson pony anymore and the way everyone talked about Will, I didn't know if I was going to get to ride him.

This is when the Half Ass School got fun. The first day I got to ride Willard the whole barn was stunned. Every person had the same response when they heard I was getting ready to, "Maggie don't hurt John, we really like John." What they didn't know was that Will was going to be on his best behavior for me. He was great, he knew I was on him. The only problem sometimes was finding a second horse so Maggie and I could hack together, she still didn't trust Willard enough to let me hack on my own yet. My teacher also had an alternate motive too. I fell into the eventing world head first when I met Maggie and wanted to learn more.

It was a little bit of a crash course at the beginning, especially when I was put on the lung line to learn how to post at the trot. Thats when Maggie got to have a little fun and push the limits: "You wanna canter now?" Really? well why not. And that was my first and only fall off of Willard, well more of a I'm falling so I'm going to tuck and role.

Ransom, the local pony on the block, did his fair share of putting up with me. He let me trot on him, do a little beginner cantering, and even some jumping. Later on after the fact I learned that I actually took Ransom on one of his first cross country schooling days, even over his first ditch.

After consistently riding Ransom I got to try my shot at trotting Will again. They best part was stunning Maggie when I just picked up the trot, I even threw in a flying lead change for the fun of it. Actually that was Willard, trying to scare the crap outta me. Low and behold, the Half Ass School was paying off. I felt like I finally conquered Will. I could talk days about Willard, I still miss him whenever I ride another horse, I got so used to his quirks.

The Half Assed School likes to test the waters a little too. I think Maggie likes see what I can handle. I even got to jump Will, that will forever be one of my favorite memories, it wasn't pretty, but I made it. That getting a Pink Ribbon at Snowbird.

Now that Riley is back I've started to learn more again. Like Maggie, I've learned to like big thoroughbreds. Two years later I'm finally going to learn how to balance and canter well.

There's a reason it's called the Half Ass School of Riding, Its slow and steady and a little laid back, but I enjoy it, I love riding.


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