I am pleased to announce that my Thoroughbred, Valie,
and I will have now have the opportunity to learn from Katie Speer (the young woman pictured herein) of Legacy Stable, Mendon, Massachusetts. As it happens, this past Wednesday night we experienced our first session with Katie and even though it was mostly ground work with just a short walk/trot with Katie in the saddle, I was amazed to find that every moment of our time was extremely beneficial. I have been suffering with an ongoing left-hand disability for some time now and as a result, there have been many things that most horse owners take for granted, small chores and the like, that I just either couldn't do or had an awful hard time in my attempts to accomplish on my own. For instance, the simple act of tightening his girth was very hard and often painful for me, "Oh yes, I could get it done but it was never tight enough as I just couldn't gain enough leverage on my own power to accomplish this seemingly simple task. If it were not for the fact that Katie didn't make me feel inferior at all, I would have felt quite foolish when she immediately came up with the idea of having me stand on a foot-stool so that I could lean on Valie thus giving me just the "edge" I needed to girth-him-up properly. Another example of trying to accomplish another simple task on my own was bridling, it's not that Valie won't take the bit, it's just that sometimes when you get the reins over his head and remove the halter, he scoots away and........without having enough strength in my hand to firmly guide him into place for bridling, it was exasperating for me and often impossible to accomplish this on my own and again, another simple suggestion from Katie to use the halter as a collar so that I have something to grab and hold onto; well, again, the bells and whistles went off when I suddenly realized that problem would now be a thing of the past as well! Moreover, even though I've now owned Valie for almost two years, there have been many things I had forgotten since I had not been a horse owner for well over 17 1/2 years. So, with her simple to understand instruction, for example, I was able to bandage his legs quickly and quite well if I do say so myself, she refreshed my memory on several other tacking-up type chores that I had either long forgotten or had begun to depend on other people for help because of my disability and........by the time we led him out of the stall and into the arena, I was already feeling as if I was well on my way to becoming an independent owner and rider again despite this nagging hand disability.
My first issue in the arena was dealing with getting him to stand still for mounting as mounting had been so hard that sometimes it even kept me from getting on at all. My hand has lost all of its strength as a result of a broken bone that had been broken in the same place twice, did not heal correctly and the dreaded arthritis finally set in. As a result, there is little-to-no strength in my left hand, and since the left hand is the one that supports your weight and guides you when mounting, my tension level would always rise when attempting to pull myself up into the saddle. She worked with him for a few moments on standing still and then decided that the easiest and safest way for me to mount was to face him to the wall and utilize the mounting block while he was focused on the wall as a barrier that would keep him from walking! Well, with that, he quieted down immediately, so much so that she didn't even have to hold him and after a few false starts, I was then able to easily get my foot in the stirrup, grab the bucking strap and pull my weight up into the stirrup, "Ahhhhhh, success!".
Last but certainly not least, I was then able to watch my wonderful but not Dressage trained TB ridden by Katie and was thoroughly amazed as she talked me through what she was doing and in turn, I watched my lovely, handsome guy adjust to her cues and quietly go "on the bit" with his ears forward and an almost happy look to those kind eyes of his! This is what I needed to feel inspired and motivated and to hear her say that he was cooperative and did basic low level Dressage movements very well was exactly what I had hoped to hear!
So, I'm finally well on my way to becoming an independent horse owner and will now be riding with Katie twice a month and with Liz Vaughan-Murphy (one of the owners of Legacy Stable) twice a month. However with Liz, I will be concentrating on the Hunter discipline and will look forward to some jumping down the road and maybe eventually can look toward some low level cross country (well, that's waaaaaaaaay down the road for now!). But, at least, I finally have a plan that allows me to move forward rather than remain stagnant.
Valie and I thank Katie for that wonderful training session and for Liz, my original trainer, for coming up with a plan that will get me moving toward my goals, "Yup, my equestrian life is looking better by the minute, "Thanks Legacy Stable".