Thursday, March 16, 2006
I can barely sit today, because of yesterday’s horse riding lesson. You see, we decided to do a ‘Pas de Deux’ (dressage) at our wedding because most of our friends and family never saw us ride a horse. The problem was that we only had one horse to do our Pas de Deux, and it would look a bit stupid if I ran along Julia, my fiancée’s horse.
Luckily, the manager of the horse-riding centre found us a second horse that belongs to a girl that is much too busy studying and who lets other people ride her horse instead. This horse, which I shall call Irene (I change the names to protect the innocent) is also a mare and is quite a nice looking horse. But we didn’t get along all at once, in fact our first encounter was close to a disaster. I felt like drifting on the ocean with a sailing boat without a rudder. I couldn’t take a decent curve, hell I couldn’t even make her walk straight for more than four meters. When I finally did manage to control her, it took me so much effort that I seriously doubted my approach. On top of that, my hands were covered with blisters from pulling the reigns. The second time I rode her started of badly too, both our horses got frightened by a very menacing heap of rubbish lying in one corner of the riding hall. Even she-who-hamsters-the-blankets-at-night had serious troubles getting this horse to do what she wanted, despite having many more years of riding experience than I have. At that moment I had serious doubts about our Pas de Deux, I can tell you.
But then we made some serious progress. I was able to steer, break, change gear and all. Even better, I succeeded in making her walk and trot sideways, gallop at a decent speed and take a few steps backwards without ending at the other side of the hall.
However, Irene is sensitive in the back, and to protect her she pushes it away. Like you would flex your spine to the front and pull your shoulders back. This makes things worse, because it makes her back tense with no muscles to take the impact of me going up and down. Hence my hurting bottom. I succeeded in reversing this, so she got more comfortable and much easier to ride. But then she slows down to much and when I urge her forward she gets all tensed up again. So I have to search a bit and work with her until she understands that she has to keep flexible and relaxed while at the same time keeping a decent speed.
The improvement was remarkable, but yesterday it was as if she had forgotten everything we’d been working on. It was our second attempt at doing a Pas de Deux. It’s not as easy as it looks, because you have to go slower and faster during the movements, depending on whether you’re on the inside of a curve or on the outside. And because of this Irene got all tensed up again and was hard as a rock. After an hour I couldn’t feel my back anymore, while I did feel Irene’s back like a hammer hitting my dangly bits. The teacher was pleased with our progress, but I was not. Still, two more months to practice. Minus two weeks when I’m off to Niger again. No reason to despair whatsoever.