The sun was shining, a warm breeze was blowing and Luc was his happy relaxed self. This week’s ride was the best one yet, and all I did was walk! I arrived at the barn to find Luc waiting for me at the gate, and for once he actually looked relatively clean. As anyone who has ever owned a grey horse knows, that is a very rare occurrence. His sudden glimmering coat was thanks to the thunderstorms we had the night before. Even with shelter, and being near the top of the pecking order in the herd, he always seems to want to stand outside in the rain. But bring a hose anywhere near him and it’s complete pandemonium, but that’s a blog for another day.
I tacked him up and headed outside, refusing to waste the sunshine by riding in the arena. I took my trusty, or as it turns out, not-so-trusty orange mounting block with me. I am beginning to realize that my days of being able to mount from the ground may be permanently over and I didn’t thinking climbing on the bumper of my car to get on was a good idea. I stepped up onto the mounting block, put my foot in the stirrup, and pushed off, a series of movements I am now completely comfortable with. Unfortunately, my boot was a little muddy and slipped over the side of the mounting block when I went to get on. At the same time, Luc decided he was done standing patiently and took a step forward.
Much to my surprise, I didn’t land in a heap on the ground, and I didn’t get stuck halfway on and halfway off. It may have taken me a minute, but I was able to keep my foot in the stirrup, pull myself up and swing my other leg over the saddle. It wasn’t graceful (I don’t think my getting on ever will be again), but it got the job done. I think I may be getting the hang of this getting on thing. It only took me two months! I did quickly look around to see if anyone had seen my nearly failed attempt to get on, and apart from my sister, who was trying to contain her laughter, it seems to have gone unnoticed.
Now safely in the saddle, Luc and I walked over to the sand ring, only to discover that it was still a little on the sloppy side from the recent rain. We walked in anyways, making a delightful squishing sound with each step. So much for Luc being clean. After a few circles, and several failed attempts to get Luc to walk through any of the puddles on the ground, I decided today was the day I was going to bolster my courage, give up the safety of the fenced-in ring and make it all the way down the driveway.
With each step away from the ring I felt my spirit lift. By the time I was halfway to the road the anxiety I felt last week had completely disappeared. Once I made it all the way to the road, I wasn’t ready to turn back yet. So I turned and walked Luc down the small ditch and into the wide-open field. Freedom! It felt so amazing to be enjoying the sunshine while Luc and I walked through the field. He only tried to rip the reins out of my hands once to get to the green grass underfoot.
I foresee a lot of trail riding in my future – just as soon as my sister has taken him out a few more times! I trust Luc, and I know he’s usually a good boy out on the trails, but I would still feel better knowing he’s been out just a few more times before I venture out too far. But you have to start somewhere, and I feel like even though today was another ride where I only walked, I’m making real progress in getting my riding back to where it once was. Now if only I could convince my body to get back to it’s 18-year-old self I’d be all set!