Mr. P Gives Me a Riding Lesson

I spent a couple of days last week in the Detroit area for work, which meant Kristen was not too far out of the way on my drive home.  I had stopped at her place for dinner a few months before, and gotten to meet her boys, but this time she said we could ride.


Her (boarding) barn is stunning, but I took this particular photo for my trainer, who has always wanted rubber block flooring.  Turns out you can't sweep it and they have an aisle vacuum to clean it!  Maybe she doesn't want it after all...

I am always grateful to anyone who lets me ride their horses, because I know I'm not a naturally good rider.  I didn't start riding until pretty late compared to most people, and had serious fear issues with the canter for a long time.

No but seriously, haha.  The motto of my riding career.

Riding one pony all the time is like a security blanket for me, but it also means we acclimate to each others quirks instead of solving them.  Riding other horses is both a bit intimidating and eye opening for me.


Enter my teacher for the evening, the famous Mr. P.  It's not hard to see why Kristen calls him her furry soulmate.  He gives you the feeling you could do anything on him.  He's got so many buttons, it was amazing.

We figured each other out at the walk and trot, and were having a lot of fun.  I tried to be especially conscious of keeping my hands light and elbows forward.  Then Kristen suggested I canter him.  He has the best canter, but...I couldn't bring him back down to the trot.  I wasn't getting run away with, but he was forward and clearly, something about my seat said "go" while the rest of my body and voice said "whoa".  Sigh.

Kristen's barn.  So pretty.

Kristen tried to make me feel better by saying there's another woman at her barn (who I met a few minutes later) who has the same effect on him, as a result of riding a warmblood all the time who needed a hotter seat.  But I still felt bad, this is not the first time I've been called out for this.

- Dillon, 2010.  Also a senior citizen, also a been-there-done-that heart of gold, but I made him rush jumps.  And he never rushes jumps.
- My trainer, every so often: "Connor really doesn't respond well to tension in the seat, I think he feels trapped."
- Nancy K, last summer: "Something about the way you sit makes him rush.  Try sitting on him the way you would at the end of a lesson, when you're done."

Unrelated, but my rental car for this trip had a shifter that was buttons on the radio, and it drove me crazy.

Connor does require a hotter seat, but like I said earlier, we deal with and acclimate to each other , so it's not always obvious to me that I haven't fixed that problem of having too hot of a seat.  But it was obvious on Phoenix.  Especially when Kristen got on him bareback after me and he loped off like a cowpony and stopped on a dime with just a "whoa".  Seeing her on him REALLY drove it home that something about the way I sit is not right, and nicely bookended what had really become a lesson for me.

Soulmates
Since then, I've played with finding the tension in my seat on my own in rides, and spent a lot of time texting my trainer about it.  She said it more nicely, but basically said, "Duh, we've been over this before," and talked about the mechanics of my driving seat.  She also said she was glad I got the opportunity to ride Phoenix and figure that out, and that she wants to get me on more horses later this summer.

So, I am both honored and grateful to Kristen for letting me ride her furry soulmate, who is definitely a once in a lifetime horse.  And I am grateful to Mr. P for putting up with my poor riding and effectively giving me a riding lesson.  Hopefully I can continue to keep that ride in the back of my mind and put it into practice on Connor.

22 comments:

  1. It's hard when you are used to riding a certain way and a new horse shows you that! I remember riding a friends 4th level horse and I could not get him to canter. It was embarrassing!

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    1. Yeah, so true! I've been there too, rode a friend's 3rd level horse. Not only did she not understand me, my friend is a foot taller than me and my legs hit her in all the wrong places.

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  2. I also found all sorts of holes in my position when I climbed on my trainer's green baby horse. He'd only ever been ridden by professionals and I literally couldn't get him to stop doing leg yields and lateral movements. Clearly I wasn't even lol. He was just so innocent and obviously really thought I was asking him to do something that I didn't mean to so it was a great learning experience for me :)

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    1. Cool! :) Yeah, you really just have to be humble and open when you ride other horses if you don't do that on a regular basis. The difference between AA me and a trainer. :)

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  3. You are NOT alone! I've never felt like a super talented rider, and I almost exclusively ride my little cobby boy. I feel like a super star on Gavin sometimes, but then I get on my friends adorable Connemara cross and it's like I'm afraid I'll ruin him if I take up any contact. I definitely think riding more horses is beneficial, but fun? Ehhhh... ;)

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    1. Haha yeah, it's like eating your vegetables, not fun but good for you. Although I like vegetables so maybe that's not a good analogy for me.

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  4. Clearly a lot of us fall into that rut! I know it was hugely eye opening for me when I started riding Cinna more after basically exclusively riding Ruby for a year haha. But it can really be hard as an AA to get rides on other horses, unless you have cool friends like Kristen and a trainer to help you out! :) Hopefully you'll get a chance to work on it this summer.

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    1. Yes, definitely, it's really hard to get rides on other horses. My barn especially is just not set up for that. I was very grateful to Kristen for the opportunity!

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  5. Try wiggling your toes when tension creeps into your butt. I only give this advice because WE ALL DO THIS, and it helps me a lot. Also, think of squishing down into the saddle when you are posting.

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    1. I will give that a try, thank you!

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  6. I caught a catch ride Sunday for my show since Stella was lame so I hopped on the total opposite version of her and jumped 4 fences before going cross country. Had a ball. Maybe got ran away with a bit with my hot button seat used to my mare.

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    1. Yeah, you definitely acclimate to the horse you ride most.

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  7. It's always good to ride new horses and learn more about yourself as a rider. I miss riding other horses. I don't know what the solution is, but my husband does the same thing: horses just want to race off with him.

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    1. Yeah. For me, I really think it's in my thighs, which then radiates all through my lower back and seat. If I think "thighs off" the end result is that my thighs are still touching the horse, but lightly, and that seems to help.

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  8. Replies
    1. YESSSSSSSSSSS he's so awesome!

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  9. I'm so glad you had the time to come out and ride with me, it was so much fun. The great thing about Mr. P is no matter what he's not going to do anything stupid and you don't need to be perfect to enjoy him. Very cool that you were able to take away so much from a little time on him. Thanks so much for coming to meet my special boys, riding with me, and checking out the barn at home. <3

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    1. Yes, thank you so much for the opportunity! He's amazing. Sorry I had to race off so quickly. Maybe I can make up for it by taking you out to dinner Thursday?

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  10. Sounds like a great lesson/ride. I feel like I would be a much better rider if I rode more horses. I rode the same horse for 14 years and I still can't figure out the correct canter aid on any other horse, including my current horse! On my old mare I would do some kind of seat flail and outside leg back and we would magically get a smooth transition and the correct lead every time, turns out that doesn't work on all horses ;)

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    1. Lol! Yeah, you learn a lot riding one horse but it's also crippling in other ways.

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  11. Well that's ultra lame about that flooring, good thing my barn already has concrete otherwise I've always wanted rubber bricks

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