Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lesson With Liz Vaughan-Murphy

Per usual, the best laid plans for my Thursday night "Lesson With Liz" (she's pictured above) just didn't work out because of constraints imposed upon me by family. As a result of my disappointment on having to cancel the lesson, I was determined to get there Friday night. I chose to not call Liz prior to my arrival lest something else come up that would prevent me from making it to the barn.

Anyway, after making sure that the dogs had fully relieved themselves, the "older" members of my family were fed and tucked in for the night and a borrowed car on hand, off I went to the barn and much to my surprise Liz did have time for a lesson. The truth is that I hate to rush when I'm getting ready to do anything at all with Valie, rushing makes me feel out of control and that feeling usually leads to unfounded nervousness. So, since she had one lesson before me, I had plenty of time to groom, prepare my tack, pull on the ol' boots and chaps and I even found time to clean out my purse while in wait! When her lesson was over, I began to tack up my boy and this evening, I needed very little help in getting him ready. Even though my hand is still disabled, I do wear a therapeutic wrist band that gives me the strength I need but more often than not, I'm either in pain and sometimes, although rarely, I don't even have an ounce of strength in that hand. However, the ol' left hand served me pretty well tonight and I was able to tighten his girth without standing on a step-stool but....bridling was another story. I am happy to report that Valie did not try to scoot away from me after pulling the reins over his head and removing his halter; however, I did have trouble getting the bridle up over his ears, partly because of my hand and partly because he is just so damn tall and I am so damn short. Liz suggested that I place one hand on his poll thus giving me the ability to easily handle the bit and since he opens his mouth readily for that, I just popped it in at that point! Of course, it worked and we were off to the indoor!

Well, no sooner had we entered the indoor when Valie decided to act as if he was just about to run the
Kentucky Derby, up went his head and out came a scream for the benefit of his harem of mares. I won't lie, I did get nervous, but just for a moment because he then got down to the business of standing still and with only one re-adjustment of the mounting block, I was up and ready to go. I think Liz was surprised that I wanted to ride off my myself without a lead or assistance for the old disabled lady that I am; but, I was sooooo comfortable that I wanted to be treated as any other rider during a lesson. The few times that Valie screamed or even the one little stumble he had, I calmly talked to him and moved him forward. I asked Liz to critique my position and after an adjustment here and there, we worked on leg yielding, half-halts, etc. It was time to "step up the action" so I began with a sitting trot and since Valie's stride is long and comfortable, it was easy to sit to and then some posting and landing on the correct diagonal and yes, even though the "injured hand" has been hurting my ability to ride, this ride, for the first time in a long time, was quite different and quite good! I did cut the lesson a bit short as I was beginning to tire and didn't want to push it, but I have to report that I dismounted with a smile and thanks to Liz along with Mike and Katie as the spectators (that did their best to boost my confidence), I felt like I had finally had a breakthrough and that the disability could no longer really be considered as such and the resulting nervousness about it was now a "thing of the past"!

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