Sorry to go completely off topic on what this blog is about, but I wanted to write about an experience I had today. I'm not riding enough to actually make a horse blog - maybe someday.
Today I went horseback riding for the first time since probably August or September. Basically, it's been so long I honestly can't remember the last time I got on my horse. I've been lunging her intermittently, for those of you non-horse people you put them on a long-line, mine is 30ft, and using a whip encourage the horse to run around. I move her through a canter and down into a trot by the time we're done.
My friend Mary was out this past Friday and said she'd be back out today around noon. I got to the barn around 11a because I wanted to lunge Cairo[my horse] before attempting to ride her in fear that she thought she was "feral" or "wild". This isn't a realistic fear, but I was prepared for her to be at least full of herself.
I put my saddle on Cairo and went to tighten the cinch. Since I have had her she has always been a little cinchy. Again - for non horse folks cinchy is where the horse is sensitive about having the cinch [part that holds the saddle on] tightened. She's never actually bitten me but she usually makes half hearted attempts, throws her head, or makes ugly faces. It's never been an issue, just something I know she does. Well, today was different. I actually felt afraid of her biting me. Like, I felt a rush of fear. She wasn't even close to biting me, but I felt fear. I told her to knock it off and tightened her cinch most of the way - just shrugging the feeling off. When we went out to the arena I felt kind of weird again, only because I guess I was expecting a giant explosion. Sometimes I get pictures in my mind of her striking out and kicking me in the head. Today I would say I felt that fear, that she might explode and I could get seriously injured. Of course, it didn't happen. She bucked around a little when I asked her to change directions, but nowhere near me.
I just think it's so bizarre, and a little sad that I feel this way. I feel completely detached from my horse. I think because I've spent so much time on the ground I've lost my sea legs, so to speak. Don't get me wrong, I've never been a super confident rider but I've had this mare for 7 years and our relationship has only improved and I've grown as a rider. When I first got her I would get off if she threw a fit, now I ride them out.
Of course, to make my day even better, Cairo did not disappoint. When my friend Mary showed up we actually started to ride, I asked her for a trot and she felt okay. I can't explain it in words, but I did feel like she might be a little mischievous. I don't know why I felt that way - it's probably more of a fear thing than actually knowing she was going to be a boob because we had only been walking around and she was relaxed and fine. We broke into a canter, another gal was lunging her horse and when he came up beside us Cairo started bouncing around wanting to take off. I stopped her and we proceeded to trot for some time and she tried to take off and did a little hopping again. I ended up trotting and trotting and trotting until I felt like she was tired enough/the edge was gone for her to focus and we cantered and she didn't try anything weird.
This whole fear thing was just a major realization to me that I need to get back into riding. Not just for me. I think it's really clear that my soon to be 21-year-old Thoroughbred mare is not ready to be 'done'. I just never thought that I would lose the confidence that I had gained. I think it's smart to be afraid of a 1200lb animal with a brain. However, you can't let the fear of 'what if' stop you from riding and having a good time. 99% of the time she doesn't challenge me and I know in all truthfulness Cairo is not a mean mare, she wouldn't try to hurt me. She's never been nasty or malicious.
It's just very clear to me that I have spent way too much time on the ground and it's time to get back into the saddle.
Sorry for the off topic post, but I really wanted to share.