Meanwhile, back at the Farm… My last post about riding lessons was to share that I’d just learned to canter. It was a HUGE milestone for me, having trotted like crazy since last October, never progressing till I began lessons at Acorn Farm with trainer Nathalie Cooper.
While I was only able to trot, I honestly believed that once I could canter, the riding lessons would be far less physically demanding. At the canter you don’t have to do all that up-down-up-down-up-down posting that you do when you’re trotting, so it seemed to me it would be much less effort. I was in for a surprise!
During some of my first attempts to canter on Kobe, Nathalie said something funny that woke me up and demonstrated the mistake in my thinking. She told me that once Kobe begins to canter, you can’t just sit back, say “Hallelujah!” and sit there like a sack of potatoes; he needs encouragement to keep up the new gait.
Her point was well-taken. I had sincerely believed that all I had to do was ask the horse to canter, then sit there and enjoy the ride. After all, when you watch a good rider at the canter, isn’t that what it looks like they’re doing? The truth is a little different 😉
Last Sunday morning I had an intense work-out lesson with lots of cantering. This was my practice, that included cantering and flying lead changes:
It’s hard to put into words how this progress makes me feel. At the end of each lesson there’s an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I look back at what I did and it takes on a dream-like quality. As I watch the videos there’s a sense of detachment as if I’m watching someone else.
That Nathalie now has me warm up with a couple of laps of trotting and then casually asks me to “Pick up the canter at the next corner” — like it’s no big deal and just a part of what I do — well that just thrills me stoopid! And when she taught me how to do flying lead changes and Kobe immediately knew what I wanted and without hesitation gave it to me the first time and every time since then — unbelievable!
For so long, I’ve watched with envy as other people competently trot and canter, and I have to pinch myself and say, you can do that too. You’re not dreaming. It’s just that your dream came true.