Richard faces some challenges but his desire for riding grows.
Richard continues to have lessons and realizes very quickly that his desire to ride and to spend more time at the riding school increases. After just a few lessons he is helping out with in the beginner's lesson leading some of the young riders, helps groom and tack up the horses ready for lessons and enjoys chatting to the riding school staff and instructors, learning all the way. Richards riding school was very keen to encourage everyone to help each other and to learn in this way.
Early days -
I quickly discovered that not every lesson was a success and I wasn't always going to see immediate improvements however I knew I had to continue in my quest of being in the saddle if I was to build and grow my confidence levels, an issue that had always caused me problems - I had to prove to myself that I could overcome my fears.
In was in my 4th lesson that my desire to ride was seriously challenged and no I didn't fall off, something far more frustrating - it was a simple instruction by my instructor who told me that I would benefit more if I changed to a more challenging horse - she believed this would allow me to challenge and develop my learning's so far. Immediate fear set in as my imagination ran wild - I was going to be given a rodeo horse; in fact it couldn't have been further from the truth as I spent the next hour just in walk and failing to do anything the instructor asked of me. The hour past and I felt a little disheartened and to make matters worse I had to wait an entire week to quell my frustrations. Progressing onto Canter -
Over the weeks I progressed steadily and with each lesson my confidence and enjoyment levels grew. It was during my ninth lesson that my instructor decided it was time for me to canter. Oh Crikey! Canter, I felt both fear and excitement, I asked the horse, he said NO! Probably the wiser one of the two of us as I felt disoriented and seemed to loose all control, maybe I just wasn't ready.
Not to be beaten I decided before I tried again in the school I would take a different approach to helping me feel more confident and secure in this big step. I contacted Rocky's Ranch in West Yorkshire which is a Trekking centre in a Western style and booked myself in. The horses were very experienced and I rode in a western saddle which made me feel very safe with the huge pommel horn to hang on to. We were taken up on to the moors and led off for our canter - my very first canter, it was fantastic and it allowed me to become familiar with the speed and motion whilst feeling secure at the same time.
I wasn't and instant success cantering in the school however at least I could breathe and felt like I had some control of the horse.
The downward transition from canter to trot posed another unbalanced movement for me becoming rather Bumpy, however my friend Philippa suggested that I rise from the saddle on the last stride of canter and the first stride of trot. This helped me a lot and providing I was on the correct lead leg in canter insured I was on the correct trot diagonal, brilliant! I felt like I was finally getting there.
Richard is hooked
It is amazing how the initial one hour riding lesson a week seemed to take over my whole life, I was now spending 5 or 6 hours of my weekend at the riding school and spending my evenings reading riding books, watching an old Channel 4 series about kids learning to ride called If Wishes Were Horses which I got from eBay (A great introduction to horses and riding) and I also signed up to an internet forum where I was able to ask loads of questions and read about other peoples experiences on learning to ride.
5 Tips to help you progress with your early riding lessons
1. After every lesson write notes on what you leaned and how you felt.
2. Read books on riding to back up each lesson, Enlightened Equitation by Heather Moffett is great.
3. See if you can help out at your riding school, time spent with the horses will
help build your confidence as you get to know them better.
4. If possible have two lessons a week.
5. Get a wobble board and a gym ball and use them at home to help improve your dynamic
balance between lessons.