I’d originally thought that I’d work with Daniel Stewart. This seemed to me to be a good idea because I thought that I’d do what I did yesterday, today, only this time better. Sometimes you only get one go at things, and this turned out to be one of those times. Yesterday, after working with Daniel, I asked one of the event organizers, Molly McCarthy, if I could work with Daniel again today, rather than with Anne Hill and Sally Batten. She said that she’d first need to talk with Lesley, the other event organizer. Lesley said no, so this meant that I was to go with the original plan. Rather than grouse about this, I instead decided that indeed, that this was for
the best – I also stood to learn a lot from Anne and Sally.
And so, my day began at 8 a.m. with me observing Daniel working with his first day’s group of student riders. He’d left the previous afternoon’s four jumps in place, so his lesson was a repeat of the previous day’s course – he just reversed that previous day’s courses.
Calm, relaxed, knowing that I would not be under the duress of getting it all right – I took it all in as he again explained the variable of time, number of jumps, stride count, and direction change. Direction change had previously been my stuck point. I watched the other riders as the younger riders followed his marching orders and tried (as Daniel said) to “juggle a kitty, bowling ball, hammer, and pig.” Some were more successful than others. I walked away at 9 a.m. having a better understanding of what he’d asked me to do on the previous day. That was not the point. But I did understand that yes, it is easier to learn if one is relaxed and stress free.
I went and saddled up for my lesson with Anne Hill, an Alaskan based equestrian, – a British woman, one of the pillars of the Alaska horse community. I appeared with goat helmet cover on my head – and after introducing myself, told her my acronym was Greatest of All Time. This was sort of an experiment. It worked – she who had been at Daniel’s talk knew that I was doing this in order to bolster my confidence.
I was also right about her expectations – Anne was also (as she should be) attentive to gear-related considerations – in a very nice way she told me that I needed to put another hole in my bridle headstall, so that it was tighter.
Raudi really liked Anne – odd, how she takes to some instructors and not to others And Anne really liked Raudi. We warmed up, and then trotted over poles. Next, she added a few cross rails to the mix. Then we were asked to go over the cross rails with our hands on our knees. Over Raudi went, eyes up, heels down, in two point with my butt in the saddle. As Anne observed, Raudi slowed down when I did this because quite obviously, I was no longer pulling on her mouth. We were then to go over one cross jump which was followed by a second. This second cross jump had a vertical jump behind it.
The first time, Raudi refused. I then recalled my acronym and repeated it to Raudi. I put my hand on my head – yep, helmet cover was in place. I looked ahead and up, kept my ankles down, squeezed on Raudi with my legs, and over the first jump I went. It was our highest jump ever. She pushed herself off with her hind legs, and I felt those legs propel us both through the air. After, I thanked Ann for her excellent lesson; I then went on a short trail ride around the property with Jackie, who was in lesson with me, and Sharon, who is in my pony club group.
At 1 p.m. I had my second lesson of the day. This was with Sally Batten, who instructs the Dartmouth Equestrian team. Again, I wore my helmet cover and told Sally my acronym. Like Anne, she understood what I was getting at. This lesson was as challenging as the lesson with Anne. She had us do jump courses which included cantering over poles.
Raudi was at first erratic, going faster or slower than was to my liking. This made me a tad bit nervous, as did her considering running out of the unfenced arena, back to her stall area. But gosh, we did as we were told. Sally got me to look up by posting – this made it so that I was more upright when going over the jumps, this as opposed to my going into the fetal position.
And yes, Raudi and I did complete a course in going over four jumps and canter poles. As I decided after, it worked out well for both Raudi and I, having worked with Wendy, Daniel, Anne, and Sally, and in that order.