Monday, December 5, 2011

Mouthy Mondays

We seem to have a few new readers. Yip!
I thought I would explain some of the Mouthy Mondays guidelines, as a refresher for a lot of us and as new information for those who are interested.

I love stories. I like telling them, sharing them and hearing them. Mouthy Mondays is your chance to share.

It's all about the story here. Please don't duck out on telling us a good tale because you're afraid of your ability to write. This is a conversation and and if there is an argument or criticism from the readers it will be about content or opinion, won't be about how it's presented.

The only editing I ever do is to break things up into easy to read, short paragraphs. I hit spell check too, in case you forgot. That's all.

I have never had to edit the comments before, although I may have spammed a malcontent or two, but I'll start if the comments take a turn to the fugly, er, ugly. We disagree, argue and discuss here, but we don't attack. Ever.
 Let us know who you are, give me your blog or site address and we'll make sure to post it.
So feel safe and please share. We can't wait to read your stories.

This story comes from Kelly.

I first got on a horse at the age of 6. His name was Ginger and he was beautiful. Though I didn't ride with him long (we moved country) I rode on and off constantly from that time, but somehow I never became properly "into horses" until I reached the relatively late age of 17.

This was also when I realised that for all my years of riding I was, essentially, rubbish.

I was looking for activities to boost my University application and a local stables for disabled riders needed volunteers, so I started to work there. This was the first time I'd really spent time looking after and getting to know a small group of horses. I grew to know each little quirk and character. I became steadily more and more obsessed with them. As a lucky bonus for my volunteer work one of the girls who was training to be an instructor used to give me the odd free lesson so she could practice her lesson plans. One day she came out with the words that changed my riding forever "Haven't you been riding since you were like 6?" "Yeah?" "It's just that, well, you really should know a lot more than you do".

I had had my suspicions that the stables where I rode wasn't great, it wasn't easy riding in a group of 13 riders in a 40x20m school, not to mention how often it happened that you would be introduced to a lovely but naughty horse to ride, spend lesson after lesson hitting the dirt and climbing back up, working on this horse with all your heart for the 60minutes you had with him, only to find a few months down the line, when you really thought you were getting somewhere, that the horse was sold and you were to ride a new green thing that they'd bought.

My new school was worlds apart, I'd never actually seen an instructor get on a horse and ride before. Nor had I ever had a lunge lesson. For months my instructor tore apart what I'd been taught; I knew how to sit a buck, I was eager and confident to canter and jump, but I knew none of the basics, the only way I knew to communicate with the horse under me was with huge ungainly kicks and unnecessary yanks of the reins. I was put on horses that knew better, horses who were trained well beyond any standard I'd ever ridden, horses that could teach me.

Then, one lesson, I was introduced to Bottom.

Not the most attractive name for a pony, not the most attractive pony either. He was a scruffy looking chestnut, and he was the most sensitive horse I have ever met. Not his mouth, that was fine, but to weight aids, you could not even glance the wrong way without sending this boy off course. Honest to god I'd be surprised if we spent more than 5 minutes of that first hour together actually going where we were meant to go. Were I more confident in my abilities I probably would have thought him an incredibly naughty horse, but by this point I was quite used to the fact that everything I thought I knew about riding was wrong. Yanking on the right rein and collapsing at the hip had always managed to turn the horses at my old stable right, but Bottom started walking the left. I came away from that first lesson determined to figure him out. Up till now I had been merely sitting on horses, but there was a whole world of "real" riding that I didn't know yet, and Bottom was my key!

My instructor was kind enough to put me on him for pretty much every lesson for the next year or so, at first improvement was slow, but gradually I learned to feel where my weight was going, I got a feel for when I wasn't quite centred, when to put more weight onto this seat bone, or into that stirrup. I also learned that he had a wicked buck when he wanted to, and how to make sure he was listening enough to me so that I wouldn't have to experience said buck.

Some time later my instructor decided to hold a small informal dressage competition, open to anyone from our stables. I had never competed in anything before but I decided this was as good a time as any. A year before I would have thought completing any level of dressage test on this wobbly little pony was impossible, I was nearly right, he suddenly decided there were horse eating monsters in the corner of the school (yes, the same one we rode in every Thursday night together) and that the judge would appreciate a show of his jumping abilities...over her foot, which happened to be just sticking into the edge of the school.
Despite it all we placed second; "a good ride on an obviously difficult pony"

There it was; "a good ride". My good ride.

I still don't own a horse, I still spend far more time than any reasonable 22 year old should reading up on horses and dreaming. But one day it will happen. And when it does I'm sure I'll have just as much to learn and relearn as I did 5 years ago!


burdfour said...

That made me smile on a rough day...congratulations on your current path.

Golden the Pony Girl said...

haha Bottom. What a cute name. Sounds like my experience around age 16 on squirrely little pony named Poco. I was like you- I grew up riding at a stable with very little actual instruction. I had my eyes opened by a dressage trainer that took me on as a pet project too. It is amazing how giving the horse world can be sometimes eh? Keep up the riding! Sounds like you are getting to the bottom of Bottom! Sorry could not help myself :)

mugwump said...

I like the fact Kelly was willing to open her mind and realize she had a lot to learn.

How many people have you met in your life who would never admit they needed to learn more after many years of riding?

Stilllearning said...

Great story, Kelly. Thanks!

When that horse of your own does show up you'll be amazed at how much help it's been to ride all the others. Can't wait to hear where you are in another 10 years :)

Michelle said...

I agree with burdfour. What an uplifting way to end my somewhat crudy day! Thanks.

bassgirl said...

I'm new here (a lurker from Fugly blog) and I really enjoy your writing style and insights. Also like the guest writer idea, but when I saw the title "Mouthy Mondays" I was expecting something, um, rude or obnoxious. Glad it wasn't!

scsarah said...

Nice story Kelly. Very much like mine except I was 49 when I started taking lessons.

I rode for many years, owned horses, and worked in barns. I really watched and asked questions of people whom I thought rode well and looked balanced and 'one' with their horse, as well as watching their horses which looked relaxed, happy, and well mannered. Those opportunities to watch good riders were my lessons.

Then life threw a curve at me and I was single with two care costs more than board for two horses... that is all that needs said about that.

Then four years ago, I realized my boys were growing up FAST and I had better develop a life outside of motherhood, so I bought a little grey untrained arab gelding.

My, has that little white pony been a teacher! I should write stories about him...LOLOLOL

By some sort of devine intervention and before I was killed or worse, messed up my arab, I found Bill Dorrence and his book, 'Horsemanship Through Feel', found books/videos by Ray Hunt, Buck, and Martin Black. Then found an instructor that is helping me put the finishing touches (dressage in a bosal!) on my arab. Hard to find an instructor who is 20 years younger than you that does NOT teach you like a child.

I have learned so much; I have learned how to apply what I saw those good riders all those years ago do with their horses. She even deals with my perfectionist issues, and appreciates that I do homework four or five days a week practicing what we worked on during our previous lessons, as well as trail rides to keep him fresh. I guess she sees how much I love her lessons, and appreciate her knowledge and listening to my 'whys' cause I ask way to many questions!

Sorry for the novel, but I have noticed this blog makes a person want to 'spill their guts' (thank you mugs).

As for your question mugs, I would say 90+ percent think they cannot improve and their way is the only way.

mysanity said...

My story is very similar but the timeline a bit longer.

As a kid, I rode anything that let me climb on board. When I finally got lessons, as an adult, I realized how ignorant I had been.

It took a few years of having my own horse and getting lessons that I figured out the "finesse" of riding.

I remember to this day, when I just shifted weight and lightly neck reined, feeling my mare change direction from the back end finishing with the nose pointed in the desired direction. Actually feeling her "wrap around" my leg. Before this it was all "words" the trainer would tell me.

I owe much of it to Eidelvise, the Appy schoolie who taught me less can mean more.

mugwump said...

bassgirl- Mouthy Mondays is just a dumb joke, it's a take from the photo blogs "Wordless Wednsdays."

So scsarah....have we got a Mouthy Monday staory in the works???

kestrel said...

Great story! And a great reminder that every horse is different. A new horse still makes me feel a bit stupid at times. The aids are the same (within the same discipline, of course. Changing disciplines ups the ante...) but the timing and intensity is so different.

Nice to have you back Mugs!

MichelleL said...

Loved your share Kelly. Hopefully the right horse will come along when you are ready for some more lessons.

It took me a really long time to get over myself and really start learning about horses.

I still don't know how to ride.

Whytefeather said...

Love Kelly's story, wish I had a Bottom to teach me :)

I know enough now to know I don't know enough and have kept safe with common sense. That said, I don't ride now due to two spine surgeries and green broke or not broke horses that have been lovely pasture ornaments the last several years.
Maybe I'll get back to it one of these days... they are some of my unfinished projects LOL. Loving that your back Mugs!

Anonymous said...

I also rode the short bus over here from Fugly, although I still will read the posts. It reminds me of bad basic TV, Maury, The View, and Judge Judy.

Instead of cringing and planning my reply ( which most of the time I deleted) I read about relearning and Bottom. I think almost every rider has that " oh $hi+ " moment when they realize that their riding isn't what they thought. LOL

Anonymous said...

Amen! I look back on the years I spent in lessons as a kid and wish I had had the teachers and the intellectual curiosity that I have now back then.
Good teachers - horses or human - are the best.

Anonymous said...

mysanity - you didn't ride an appy shoolie named Eidelvise in La Petite Camargue outside of Lyon did you? That would be too creepy...

scsarah said...

I guess I better start working on those stories, mugs. Some, like when I was on the receiving end of a concussion, I don't remember all that well.......I do remember a little white pony nose nudging my foot and some cartoon birdies flying around my head....why am I sitting here smiling and laughing over THAT story?

Francis said...

One of the things I like best about this blog is that, for the most part, most of the folks here realize that they do not "know it all" .. that if you are around horses you BETTER be learning for life.. and no matter who is talking, you might learn something if you listen with an open mind. That said, there are no "gods" who know it all, if your mentor acts like they do, run fast the other way :) (oh yeah, and a mentor is never a bad thing!).. hmm.. I like more than I thought :)

MalteseLizzieMcGee said...

I can sympathise with Kelly. been riding since I was 9: mostly riding aorun the coutnryside on gorgeous tunisian hores who were very beautiful but very naughty.

I got a little bored of doing that, and started dressage lessons. the difference is amazing. From tugging the reins and holding my hands up in the air, to keeping my hands low and simply tweaking the reins with a finger; from kicking to lightly squeezing.

It feels so good to learn all this new stuff. Kind of annyoing that her horse is lame at the moment.

redhorse said...

The Bottoms of the world are the best teachers. I don't know if that sentence sounds right, but oh well.

I'll tell you something that's no fun, getting old and feeling like you have to learn riding all over, but with a body that doesn't cooperate.

clquick1234 said...

Thanks Kelly!

Tina said...

I have been riding for as long as I can remember. I do believe that you learn every day especially with horses. I have taken an official riding lesson once in my life and it was a nightmare. If I didn't understand what he was telling me he would tell me the same thing in the exact same words and I just didn't get it. I had to start asking my friend what the heck he was asking me to do and then she would tell me he means this. I am not an idiot by any means but he made me feel like one. What is funny that he taught me how to start the ground work in a round pen with my yearling that same year but try telling me how to ride and it was very frustrating. This was not the first horse I trained either but I think the first one that I started in a better way, she is still my saddle horse today 9 years later.

NotAFollower said...

Every time I learn a bit more in my riding lessons, I feel a bit foolish for all the wrong things I'd believed before.

My latest favorite was all the instructors who told me to put my weight in my feet, then would get after me for not moving with the horse, and I never put together that the two are somewhere between impossible and difficult to do at the same time.

My current trainer started by teaching me how to keep my weight in my butt and my feet light in the stirrups and what a difference that's made.

Kelly said...

Thank you so much for such positive comments! I found mugwump and made it my mission to read through every post. (So glad to see you back from FHOTD Mugs)
Bottom was not the first pony I ever fell in love with, but he was the first that I ever had a "bad" lesson on (as in one where I got barely anything right) where rather than walking away feeling negative, I walked away feeling absolutely determined to learn how to ride him well. I like to think over time we developed a mutual respect for eachother.
He was sold on last year, but my instructor rarely sells to people that she doesn't know well, and Bottom's new owner is a regular rider at the stables who gives me updates whenever I'm back from uni, and also occasionally brings me photos of a very happy looking Bottom in his new home :)

Anonymous said...

My riding history was similar to yours, and I know what you mean about continuing on, finding that first horse and having this crazy horse world open up in never-ending ways that you can hardly imagine.

Trust me, it's worth every minute reading, learning, wishing, dreaming, working for that dream of having your own.

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