That's What Friends Are For
At the barn, I have a friend named Rachel. Her horse, Toby, bunks in the dry lot with Dino at night. Clearly, this friendship was meant to be!
For the past several months, neither of us has been working regularly with a trainer. The reasons for this are twofold: a) we’re poor and, b) our horses are embarrassingly out of shape. Dino was huffing and puffing so hard after a recent short gallop around the paddock that one of the barn staff thought he was going to fall over and die. This is the kind of unfitness we’re dealing with.
So, needless to say, both Rachel and I have been working mainly on our horses’ fitness in the hopes that one day we will feel confident enough in their abilities to invite a trainer to the barn to teach us, or maybe even take our horses off the property for a lesson or clinic. We haven’t been working on things like position. Or equitation. Or accuracy. Or rider balance. We’ve instead been developing all sorts of bad habits like poor posture, flapping elbows, scrunchy legs, and hands that tend to rest somewhere in the vicinity of our horses’ shoulders. Riding without a trainer has allowed us to get away with these myriad equitation sins, and both Rachel and I have recently come to the understanding that We Need Help.
Thankfully, we are both positively brilliant individuals, and realized we could help each other. We instituted Friday Night Butt Kicking. The inaugural session was last Friday, and it was a raging success if I do say so myself.
Both Rachel and I came to the barn prepared for a lesson; dressed in breeches and proper boots (no psychedelic-colored muck boots, Rachel), hair up in our helmets, and horses as clean as we could get them. This helped to foster the appropriate attitude about Friday Night Butt Kicking. We weren’t there to mess around, we were there to work! We then took turns giving each other lessons, focusing on each other’s known weak points, and in the process learning new ones we didn’t even know we had! For me, this meant working hard at keeping Dino straight and moving forward from behind, and strengthening and fine-tuning my own position through a series of painful exercises, such as riding in two-point. With no stirrups. Rachel also helped me pinpoint what a correct sitting trot should feel like, and when I ride on my own I’ll try and shoot for that feeling of burning agony in my abs. We’re both a little sore today, but it was worth it.
After all, that’s what friends are for. I can’t wait for next week!