When the snow was coming down a couple of months ago, so was my moral. I was out having coffee with a friend, prior to heading out for a later-than-usual private lesson, and I just felt so bad about my riding that I didn’t even want to go. The white stuff kept falling, then stopping, then falling again, and the actual practicalities — would I even be able to get back from the yard in this weather? — were falling down when faced with my fear that I was actually crap at this and that I should stop.

That was a real rock bottom. It had been a tough winter, all that recession talk getting into my head, plus having been off for those three weeks over the holidays had really seemed to be making things rough. The weather was making the horses crazy, and I felt like I had forgotten everything I knew how to do. It was awful. I couldn’t seem to jump properly anymore, and I was feeling, as I’d written before, that I was one step down the slippery slope to quitting.

It’s hard to get up there, and get hollered at, to try to keep one’s head when it all starts building up: doing it wrong, do it like this!, trying to do it like that, no, like this! until it all goes down the drain. Drain is good, it’s draining, mentally, to try to coordinate all this, the feedback from the instructor, and from the horse, and do it right.

It got to the point where I wasn’t having any fun anymore.

I’m having fun again. It’s a combination of, I think, finally, being able to correct myself now, in the process of a lesson. I know when my heels are up. I know when my shoulders are rounding. I know when I’m not following the horse over the fence. I know all this now, and can adjust at the very same time that the instructor is calling out to me — heels down! shoulders back! — and every time I do that, it’s me riding more independently.

And I can do that because I’m almost not minding the horse anymore, not staring at his or her head, making sure that’s he or she is actually going, is actually there… in a weird way. The horse is always there, but he’s more there if I’m paying attention to me own self. If I’m paying attention to me, and correcting my posture and giving the aids properly, then it makes his job easier, too.

So, I’m feeling good. I’m looking forward to the yard[s] every single time, now — again. No way am I gonna stop. Once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up!

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