Several weeks ago, Micah injured himself. We believe he cast himself in his stall, twisting his spine one way and hips another. He had some chiropractic and acupuncture work, a bit of hand walking, lunging, and now we’re gently starting him back under saddle. Fingers crossed, things seem to be going well. I am much relieved.
In the meantime, Natalie helped me out with some lessons on Commanche. Commanche is an elegant Arabian gelding who is almost an opposite to everything Micah is.
Where Micah is a tall and a big-boned, easy keeper; Commanche is short, narrow, and fine-boned. Commanche looks like a Breyer horse when he stands next to Micah.
I was thrilled to get to ride Commanche but I went in with the preconceived idea that Commanche would be pretty easy to ride. After all, he’s tiny in contrast to Mr. M. and should be easier to influence.
I was both right and wrong.
To gain a sense of perspective, picture this: Micah is like sitting in an armchair — he has a wide back and there’s plenty of room to shuffle about without him reacting.
Commanche is narrow and more like sitting on a bicycle seat. He feels every movement of the rider and tries to respond, thinking he’s being asked to do something.
Commanche taught me that I toss my hips about like ships on the high seas. He gamely tried to follow my swaying hips and, as a result, wavered around the arena.
“You want to go left?” he said, swerving aft. “You changed your mind and want to go right?” he asked, moving to the starboard side.
We spent much of the first lesson practicing going on a straight line. It was humbling.
Once I realized what the problem was, I thought of pointing my hip bones like laser beams at the opposite side of the arena. Once I had both my eyes and hips burning laser holes in the far wall we made big improvement.
I also had to learn to ‘do less’ with my hands. Micah likes a lot of contact while Commanche says, “No, thank you.”
Doing less can make you sweat, it is such hard work.
Commanche’s owner was very sweet to let me ride her elegant and kind little horse. He taught me much about my shortcomings.
If ever you need humbling, try riding a new horse. It’s hard on the ego but a terrific learning tool.
Note to self: ride a new horse whenever you get the chance.