Apr 3, 2012

It Sucks To Be Me

My riding had been sporadic between 1987 and 1992. Marriage, moving, and motherhood had kept me hopping. I had sold my jumper and putzed around periodically on my semi-retired hunter, but life was in the way of much serious pursuit. But when the girls were two and four I felt pretty able to commit to riding again. I took a couple of lessons at a dressage/eventing barn but I wasn’t thrilled about their horse care or their level of proficiency. On a whim I drove by the Smith College campus and signed up for a lesson.

I don’t know about you other riding moms out there, but my re-entry in to steady riding again revealed two issues I had never experienced. First, I had clearly been invaded by some body snatching alien. I couldn’t do *anything* and I felt like crap in the saddle. My balance was off, my hips had changed, I felt crooked and stiff and awkward. I had always been a comfortable and reasonably good rider and riding had been pretty effortless. Now everything was a challenge and I hated my riding body. The two ten pound babies I had carried, and the infants and toddlers I had been lifting and lugging for a few years, had really changed my body dynamic.

Second, and much more troubling, was the fear I felt. I had *never* felt fear riding. I hadn’t been fearful after my first daughter; I rode again four weeks after she was born and felt great. But now, with two (and the second one had had some serious health issues and required constant monitoring) I was a sweaty handed stomach pitted ‘Oh my God he is shaking his head I am getting off NOW’ miserable wreck.

Sue Payne is the director of riding at Smith and she was my instructor. She told me I looked great, though tense. Ha! If she only knew! She told me I rode well and that I could get things out of the school horses that other riders couldn’t. It didn’t help.  The 45 minute drive to my lessons was misery. I would arrive nauseated, discouraged, not to mention disgusted and angry with myself.

I couldn’t shake the fear and decided to quit. The lessons weren’t cheap; we didn’t have extra money for me to spend on something that had become an exercise in futility.

Sue had offered me a job teaching. I felt like such a hypocrite, teaching confidence but hating my secret fear. I talked to her about it. She was so kind and so understanding. She told me Smith would soon be hosting a Centered Riding clinic with Susan Harris, that as an instructor I could go for free, and that maybe that would be helpful.

I didn’t know much about CR, but at that point I would have tried anything. I bought Sally's book, signed up, and hoped for the best.

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