Why Do I Feel Like a Beginner Rider Again?

Dressage Today's Jennifer Mellace shares an update on her return to the saddle.
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Now that I have a month of lessons under my belt, I realize that I feel like a beginner again and I have a lot of relearning to do. (To read my first blog post about returning to the saddle, check it out here.) But the fantastic thing about Bubba, is that he’s on point when it comes to telling me if I’m doing things right or wrong. And he’s super forgiving about it. This pony is worth his weight in gold.

Here's Bubba as I was about to give him a treat after my lesson. He deserves treats for being so patient with me!

Here's Bubba as I was about to give him a treat after my lesson. He deserves treats for being so patient with me!

Through the years, I’ve let some bad habits creep in. Puppy-dog hands, gripping with my thigh, jamming weight into my heels, throwing the contact away when I shouldn’t. Fortunately, not only is Bubba patient, but so is my trainer, Ali, as she kindly goes down the checklist, saying:

• Relax your thigh

• Use your calf

• Hold in your core

• Keep your elbows at your side and keep your fairy fingers closed

• Keep your thumbs up and closed on the reins…no puppy-dog paws (or piano hands as my old trainer would say)

I chuckle as she so tolerantly repeats these things (and much more) throughout my lesson. Eventually I’ll remember to do them on my own. In fact, I’ve gone to sleep thinking, relax your thigh, and in subsequent lessons, have been able to do so without a reminder! And boy oh boy, does it make a difference. Just the slightest adjustment can turn Bubba from a Ford Fiesta into a Maserati (I’ve driven both, so I can say that with confidence). It’s pretty fantastic. Although, it’s short-lived as I can’t keep it all together for very long—fatigued muscles and discombobulation seem to creep back in all too quickly.

But isn’t that what this is all about? Finding that wonderful feeling in your own journey that makes you go, OHH! That’s what it supposed to feel like! That’s so cool! And while it may be brief, it’s worth all the sore muscles and hours of practice so graciously provided by patient ponies and trainers.

So, for now, I will gladly embrace the feeling of being a beginner all over again and continue to search for that a-ha moment in each lesson. Thanks Bubba and Ali.

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