Thursday, March 11, 2010

impromptu riding lesson

Yesterday afternoon I was at the barn and had encouraged my daughter to get her rides in before the rain came. It was one of those unusual days where we were getting little bits of rain, then sun, then clouds, then sprinkles, etc. 

I was so busy in the barn I didn't notice that she'd come outside, and only realized it when I noticed the pony's bridle was missing from the tack room. The next thing I knew he was in the barn aisle being groomed, and there was no sound, just a girl and her pony, going through a routine they've been through hundreds of times, needing no words to communicate.

They were there, and then they were in the arena. At some point I stopped what I was doing to watch. She was riding him bareback, as his pony saddle is now too small for her, and we keep changing our minds about what we want to replace it. We were initially thinking a dressage saddle, and now we're thinking a treeless Barefoot saddle, but whatever we do will require a fitting, and with everything going on we haven't gotten around to it.

Sometimes she uses her Little Joe bareback pad, but mostly she rides him bareback these days.

As I watched, she had finished warming him up and was moving into the working part of her ride. She's a very quiet, naturally balanced rider anyway, but yesterday afternoon her body seemed particularly still and only moved with the motion of his gaits. The picture of the two of them caused me to hold my breath.

She had the reins in one hand and her legs were perfectly still against his sides, but the pony was walking, trotting, cantering, circling, turning on invisible cues I could not see, even when I tried. The contact was there, but not through the reins or the bit. This was a pony anyone would say was "on the aids" - perfectly so - and yet the aids were not visible to my eye.

She often carries a dressage whip when she rides him, which she uses to do a "tap, tap" cue if needed, but yesterday she didn't even have that. I'm not sure I've ever seen such a beautiful, quiet, harmonious ride, and I couldn't take my eyes away because I wanted to learn from what I was seeing.

I've figured out that the mark of a wonderful horse and rider team, for me, is when the ride seems to approach the sacred. To speak would be an unforgivable interruption, and the only appropriate response is to watch, silently, and hope I absorb some of that magic.


Claire said...

shame you didn't have a camcorder with you... if you asked her to repeat it, she'd try so hard she would be unable to!

Jane said...

Beautiful. I felt as if I were standing there watching with you. You must be very proud of her as well as awed. That takes true connection. :)

Máire said...

That is beautiful. One of those moments you will hold in your memory.

billie said...

claire, even if I'd had one I wouldn't have thought to turn it on, or to put my eye to anything but the ride in front of me.

the wonderful thing is that this is where she and the pony are now, after being together for 6 years. they have grown up together.

the hard part is that no one else in our family can ride him, and the few times we've tried with children that fit him, it's been painful to watch (beginning riders, or even intermediate riders who don't have the finesse and balance my daughter has).

when I see what I saw yesterday, i realize just how good a match the two of them are.

billie said...

jane, I need never worry about rollkur or linda parelli games with this girl. :) she's so good with equines, and so gentle.

billie said...

Maire, you're right - I will treasure it forever. :)

Rising Rainbow said...

Something to be proud of, that's for sure.

billie said...

Agreed, MiKael.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Some riders just 'have it' and it comes so easily to them. It's wonderful to watch a pair that is truly connected. I've seen this a few times with my daughter and it is awe inspiring to watch. Give them both a big hug from me and the gang.

CharlieHorse said...

thanks for sharing a peek into a truely magical moment, billie, with your gift with words - moments like this are far too rare, can take your breath away and make time stand still...and, like you said, "approach(es)the sacred."