Bijou and Anna at last year's Northwest Spectacular, where they finished 2nd in the Hillcrest Starter Medal Finals.
If I ever thought I'd become some hotshot rider and could win championships on anything with four legs I WAS WRONG.
With Keenan out for at least the rest of this week (aside: we think it might be cellulitis and are treating it as such - he is improving daily, yay!!!), Sarah has been gracious enough to give me lessons on her school horses. I got a flat lesson yesterday on Phoenix and today got a jumping lesson on Bijou.
And I hurt. Big time.
Phoenix and I did not click, plain and simple. I know that a good rider can ride any horse well, but I also know that doesn't mean it has to FEEL good. It sounds so spoiled of me, I know, but Phoenix is not my fancy hunter boy. I had to work very hard to ride him with anything resembling correct equitation - and of course, that was the theme of the lesson, no stirrups and all.
But that was nothing compared to Ms. Bijou tonight. Sarah told me several weeks ago that poor Bijou (the Queen B, as I like to call her) was suffering some kind of crisis - that being a go-to horse for all kinds of beginners and children was starting to wear on her. She couldn't figure out if pulling meant stop or go, if kicking meant go faster or slow down and if anyone tried to educate her or correct her, she'd throw a tantrum. Tonight I got to experience that first-hand.
While we warmed up, she didn't want to move forward off my leg. When we started jumping - cavaletti, mind you - she blasted off like a rocket. When she ran out on a jump and I disciplined her with the crop, she lost her head. It felt like she was having some kind of horsey rage blackout. She tried to tune me out completely. It was really weird...I wanted to be sympathetic to her, but in order to relax, I had to get through to her. At the ends of the arena, I managed to sink more around her and we had half a dozen really nice, round strides - but as soon as a jump came into the picture, forget about it.
To be honest, I don't know if Sarah had me ride B because it would be good for her or because it would be good for me. Probably a combination of both. I have a tendancy to jump ahead (come too far out of my tack too soon - basically, I try to "jump the fence for my horse") and if I'd done that tonight, I would have wound up on the ground. That, and I did need to be humbled. I think having such a wonderful horse has actually made me a poorer horsewoman. I've formed some bad habits that only a lesson like this one could make me aware of. This season, I have been equitation champion or reserve at every show. It's hard not to be proud. It's hard not to think I'm entitled to good rides every time. But being a horsewoman is not about ribbons or coolers. It's not right to wish for my horse to get better so we can go to the next show. It's about taking the extra time to give Bijou a full bath and a graze because she needs the TLC. It's about having tough lessons where you have to work every step of the way. It's 100% about the horses and my relationship with them. I'm glad I had Bijou to remind me of that tonight.