… but I spent most of the afternoon yesterday gearing up for Saturday.

I actually had to say to myself, before bed Thursday night, ‘Tomorrow is Friday, tomorrow is Friday.’

Part of this is concern about the over-extended whatever in my right knee. This is so annoying! The aging process, in action! It feels somewhat better, but I just texted a pal to see could I get a lift to the yard [as well as the one I get to the bus after…]

As well, part of this is what I hope is a renewed enjoyment of my Saturday lesson. Last year didn’t see much blogging because I was so bummed by how poorly I was riding. Now, I feel back up to snuff, and maybe even a bit beyond. It’s made me look at that injury in a new way.

You can’t learn to ride without riding. When you don’t know how to ride, the learning curve is steep. There you are, up there, in public, in an arena full of other horses and riders, and the pressure is actually enormous. The instructor is yelling, because there she is on the ground, and there you all are, up there, and it’s not like she’s yelling at you… but sometimes it feels like that. {And okay, sometimes she is.} But every week, you go back for more, and somehow, the penny slowly drops, and you do something right that you used to do wrong, and it is amazing.

In the beginning of this undertaking, for me, the gains were massive, or seemed so. One day, I wouldn’t even understand what the canter aid even was, and then the next, I would get it. One day I wouldn’t even know what it meant to ‘sit back’ if a horse went all sparky on me, and then this day, I simply sat back and reached a whole new level of control.

It’s not like I’m not being continually told what to do, but there’s this thing, this brain freeze thing, in which what happens is: something goes wrong, the instructor instructs me on how to correct it, but the thing going wrong just makes me go deaf, or something. The thing about riding is, there’s not that much you can do to correct something that is wrong, because the correction is essentially simple, so I suppose the sheer repetition of hearing it, over and over, makes it sink in somehow.

When Reb took off on me on Tuesday, I didn’t even need to hear the direction to sit baaaa-accck — I did it. Somewhere, deep in my limbic system, I must have called up the memory of this, and I didn’t do what I did then, and managed the whole thing more successfully. And remembered enough of that event, deep down, to get down and cut my losses.

All of this goes back to that time taken off. Which wasn’t much, I got back up there really quickly, even if I couldn’t do everything the lesson required, because I couldn’t bear to be away… but even when I couldn’t do everything that the lesson required, as far as jumping was concerned, say, I still had fully functioning eyes and ears. I could still learn by watching and listening. When I did do things, I had to do them more slowly, and use more of the muscles that I was probably supposed to be using all along, and I learned from that, too. I think that a lot of the pressure was off, the pressure to go and go and go, and in taking the riding more slowly, even though it was going really badly, it was actually going really well.

So it wasn’t really time taken off, but time taken and used to do the things that I had been doing over and over, in a new way. I think that’s built my confidence, my mental confidence, measurably, and I’m happy to have learned that no time in the saddle is wasted.

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