Thursday, October 15, 2009

meanwhile back in the year one

Here are some funny photos taken at my first schooling show ever. The pictures are dated 9/30/79 on the back. I must have been in 7th grade. I look so mad in these pictures and I know why. I had just been bucked off of Chance. That's right - my first show and I fell off!!! Chance was a school horse who, sadly, had navicular. I hated riding school horses because they always seemed so tired and miserable and I felt that it was my fault they were sad. Chance was the worst, though, because of his pain. My instructor would tell us to canter and whenever I would ask for his left lead, he would make this painful wincing sound and then he would buck. I would fall off EVERY SINGLE TIME. Every week I would pray that I wouldn't be assigned Chance and every week there it would be on the paper in the tack room - Julie - Chance. My heart would sink. My stomach would be in knots. And, then we would come to the canter and off I would go. I had started lessons in June and in September, I was in my first "show", and, of course, I had to ride Chance. The judge called for the canter and I made it around perfectly. Then, I heard it. "REVERSE YOUR HORSES". I knew what was coming. Walk. Trot. I went. I was mortified. No one else fell off in the whole show. My instructor told me to get back on which I did, but I was finished. I knew I didn't have the guts to go in there for the other class and get bucked off again. Mom rode in the other class for me. Here she is below on Chance. Of course Chance bucked with her too, but she didn't have any problem staying on! Poor old Chance. He was a flea-bitten grey angel who unwittingly helped me conquer my fears. Thank you dear, sweet Chance.

Tomorrow is Mom's birthday. It looks like rain so we probably won't get in any riding. In lieu of riding, Brian, Maizie, and I took Mom roller skating this week. She had skated once a week for many years, but she had a serious fall last year and has lost some nerve. We all had a safe, great time at the rink. After witnessing the septuagenarians whizzing past us at top speed doing all sorts of complicated dance steps, I began to think about roller skating ability and riding ability. I was still philosophizing this idea while I was riding Pie the next morning. I happen to come from a family of roller skaters, downhill skiers, and riders. In these activities, fear, tension, and a striving for control actually cause problems. If you have ever been roller skating (not on inlines, but on four wheels) and you see someone who has never skated, they are tense and trying like crazy NOT to move. The tension in their body actually moves the wheels forward in spite of all their efforts to be still. This causes a series of disastrous events most often ending in a slow-motion fall at a standstill. Skis are exactly the same. The more you try not to move the more you slide and move. The skaters at Mom's rink are so loose and calm and fast and relaxed and fearless. They roll, and sway and are like rubberbands. I was thinking of this on the grey, windy morning after our night of skating, when Pie was very, very up. He was shaking his head and jumping and really wound tight. I felt myself become the rubberband that I am when I ride. I realized that somewhere along the way I learned to go with the skates, go with the skis, go with the horse. I give him the reins even though it seems like I should tighten them. I know I can't or I will lose him altogether. I was thinking that I bet those older roller skaters would be good riders!


  1. Good thoughts on tensing up and riding! I had a roller skating party for my 27th bday! :) That was 11 years ago. I love the story about Chance. You know, if I was an instructor, I wouldn't put anyone on a horse that I knew could buck them off, I guess I would fear it would cause confidence issues. I have never been bucked off (knock on wood!)

  2. Loved your story on Chance! Love the name too! It is great to hear stories from when we were younger.
    Can you believe that I can't roller skate? It is probably because I do tense up when I do! But I haven't done it in so long. I don't think I will ever be able to figure that one out!

  3. Yeah, the tension will get you every time! Nice story!

  4. Actually, the same is true for inlines! Great timing on the post, I'm prepping an inline post now! Great minds, I tell you...

    And just incidentally, sorry Pony Girl, there is NO WAY you're 38 years old. Nope, not believing it for a sec.

  5. What you describe about skating and skiing is much like what you will find in Sally Swift's "Centered Riding" books. I was lucky to have a instructor who taught centered riding in my early riding/showing "career." To this day, when I give lessons, I use those Centered Riding methods for erasing tensions. Works like a charm.
    And, as an instructor myself, I would have NEVER, ever, ever-ever made a young person continue riding a naughty horse who bucked them off all the time, or continued to use a horse in constant pain. That is the kind of thing that kills the love of riding in young people. I am surprised you kept on riding after that experience!
    And, don't feel bad, I fell off in a jumping class at my first hunter -jumper show. I was about 15. I had to catch the horse, re-mount, and do it all over again, but the horse kept refusing. They let me take a schooling fence and then I was disqualified. I as mortified.

  6. Roller skating! That sounds like so much fun! We have a roller rink around here and Monday nights are geared toward adults and they play music from the 70s!! I have wanted to go so bad! On of the odd things that my husband happens to be very good at is roller skating! he is Rubber Band Man himself!!
    I love your old pictures! Love the Teneille haircut! And poor, dear Chance! I hope his feet finally got some rest. Navicular does not sound like any fun at all. I almost bought a horse with navicular just to get it out of a hack line!
    Next time I am at the canter, I will try to remember your family at the roller rink! Whooosh! Gliiiiide! Swaaaay! I love how your family really loves life. Very inspiring.

  7. Pony Girl - That is so great that you had a roller skating party for your 27th! Skating and riding keeps you young - did you see the comment from Michelle?

    Paint Girl - If you can't skate were you able to go to Pony Girl's party? Your Chance is a sweet little baby with a happy life ahead of her.

    Kate - tension is tricky!

    Michelle - Inlines too? I think they are like ice skates - easy as PIE! I agree about Pony Girl - she looks like a teenager in her pictures!

    Hosanna - I don't want to defend my instructor. Horse times were weird then - sadly, horse care was poor and lessons were strange. I was thought of as weirdo because I worried so about the horse. I can remember getting in a fight with someone at the barn about mane pulling - see how weird I am? That is a practice that is still accepted all over, but I think it is awful!!! Anyway, the life of a school horse was bad and even my own experience was "of that time". No one worried about kids and injuries (physical or psychological) like they do now. I fell off every week not because Chance was throwing bad bucks, but because I anticipated what Chance was going to do. I don't know if my instructor was an idiot or brilliant. I was such a timid rider and maybe if she didn't keep putting me up there, I wouldn't have learned to really ride. I did not have a tight seat. There is no way around the truth...I was ready for that horse. I was good enough to be on that horse, but I had to learn the next lesson, which happened to be staying on when he bucked. I hated that she used him for lessons with his pain, but I thought all the school horses were in pain. Looking back now, it just seems like at that time here in Pennsylvania, there were zillions of poor lesson stables turning out riders by using (and sadly over-using) old, lame horses. The stable that I took at was probably the best of what was out there, but it was SO far from the lovely stables of today. Unfortunately, my mom could not teach me because I wouldn't listen to her!!! I wasn't a truculent kid or anything, but I was just soooo scared and my instructor was loud and aggressive with me which is exactly what my fearful nature needed.

    Baystatebrumby - I can't believe you said that about Brandon because in the 1990's there was this guy at a skating rink in CARLISLE that I used to call "Rubberband Man". Isn't that funny? Brandon is too young to be the same guy, but it is weird since he is from PA. Brian and I constantly talk about Pennsylvania and the roller skating deal around here. We joke that it is fodder for an advanced dissertation about economics and roller skating ability. More on that some other time...

  8. Love the retro 70's pics! Where did you take riding lessons? So great to go roller skating again - sounds like fun. ;)

  9. Hey Cheryl! I took lessons at Ryegate Stables. Weird really, when you think about it because it is right behind where I live now! I rode my pony right over my front lawn when I was in 8th grade. Who knew I would end up living in the old, dilapidated house on this property? Life is so funny how it circles around.
    I didn't get a chance to comment yet on your fabulous buzzing bee illustrations! They are soooo great. I saw the early post with sketches and now - the finished illustrations are fantastic. I will head over there and comment! I have to say, though, your assistant is too cute. I can't wait to show Maizie that photo.

  10. Awww, what sweet memories you have of Chance, despite the ups and downs he gave you. I like your analogy of roller skating and horseback riding.

  11. Great story..Chance looked beautiful and LOL on the memories he gave you! I have many bad show moments too, but somehow I find myself still wanting to ride perfect for that blue ribbon in my mind! :) Love the photos!


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