Luc and I try out the new mounting block.

Luc and I try out the new mounting block.

That’s right. It’s not just the horses who learn something from us every time we get in the saddle. We riders tend to learn a little something too. This week, for me it was that I can use common sense. My mother will be so proud to hear it!

After the last time I rode without stirrups and moaned and groaned in agony for about a week, I thought I would wind down No Stirrups November with an easier ride. After knocking the frost off Luc, who had been sunbathing in his shelter, we tacked up and headed into the arena. For the first few minutes I couldn’t really feel my fingers or my toes. Looks like winter may really be here.

I walked Luc around the ring once in each direction on foot to get us both warmed up and then it was time to get on. Gone is the bright orange milk crate mounting block, and in its place a nice study black one. I manoeuvred Luc into position, climbed the two steps up and went to get on.

But wait – why am I so much further away from the saddle? Why does it seem like I have to stretch my leg way up to get my foot in the stirrup? As it turns out, the new mounting block, while much sturdier is also a lot shorter. I never thought I’d miss the orange milk crates, but I do!

Miraculously I managed to haul my butt up into the saddle without too much of a struggle. Then Luc and I were off at a walk. He was very well behaved this week, willing to move forward and only occasionally glancing at the scary end.

I struggle through the final day of no stirrups November.

I struggle through the final day of no stirrups November.

Despite my decision to take things easy, I did still start out with two laps of posting trot (sans stirrups of course) once we were warmed up and ready to get down to work. Then it was into sitting trot for some leg yields and serpentine work.

Things were clicking and we were happily working right up until it was time to canter. Then it was as if Luc suddenly realised we were in the arena and the scary door was there, and life as we knew it was on the verge of ending.

Cantering seemed like a near impossible task for him. He was so hyper focused on the arena door that it felt like we weren’t really moving at all. His head was so far in the air his ears were practically up my nose. It was terrible. But sadly, not the worst canter he’s ever given me. It took way more leg than it should have to keep him going, but somehow between the clucking, kissing and kicking, we made it all the way around the ring twice without breaking to trot, slamming on the brakes, or bolting past the door.

But then, of course, we had to go the other direction. It was the same fight all over again. In the end, I won, but my legs didn’t. Before I was even out of the saddle I could feel them screaming in protest. Hopefully the discomfort doesn’t last quite as long this time.

While I did try to implement common sense, what I also learned this week is that sometimes even the best laid plans end up not quite going your way.

Oh well, at least I had a good time!