Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Out Of Place In Another Saddle

Maggie is 14.0 hh on a good day. I'm 5'6". I've never felt too tall/big for her until just recently.

First time on her back.
There's another horse at our barn, Lizzy, who is recovering from a tendon injury that she sustained earlier this year. This horse's owner is away at grad school and her mom is currently taking care of the horse for her until she gets up to the point where they can lease her out again. Getting to the point, I've been recruited to tack walk/ light trot this horse a few days a week as she continues her recovery. This horse is 16.1 hh - a pretty typical Thoroughbred.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I've ridden a horse other than Maggie since I began fostering her four years ago. I'm so used to her that when I ride her body feels like an extension of mine. Cliche, but it's true.  And it's pretty amazing.

Just the other week.
However, it now feels incredibly foreign when I get on any other horse. I climbed aboard a friend's 15.0 hh Mustang for fun a few weeks ago and even that felt so much taller than Maggie. 16.1 hh Lizzy feels downright giant. 

Walking on Lizzy was no problem, but now she's allowed to do some light trotting for a couple minutes each time I take her out. The first time I trotted on her I almost got popped out of the saddle.

I immediately got scared.


Me on Lizzy. Tense much?
Not scared that I was going to fall or anything, scared that I've become so used to Maggie that I'm incapable of riding any other horse; or at least riding any other horse well.

The fact that I felt loose, bouncy, and kind of incompetent bothers me. However, what actually bothers me more is that riding Lizzy has changed the way I feel when I ride Maggie. Particularly when I get on Maggie right after I've been on Lizzy.

Riding a 14.0 hh pony right after riding a 16.1 hh horse makes me feel...kind of ridiculous. It's impressive how much of a difference 9 inches makes. Additionally, Maggie is also really narrow so being on a slightly larger-barreled horse only adds to the alien feeling. When I sit on Maggie after riding Lizzy it feels like I'm sitting on a Mini.

Hello down there!
Now that it's been several weeks since Lizzy has been allowed to trot I've slowly gotten a little more used to her big stride, though I'm still much more comfortable on Maggie. I've also only been getting on Lizzy after riding Maggie, which has helped to negate that out of place feeling somewhat.

But still, I worry: will an actual horse-sized horse ever feel normal to me again? I can ride, but can I only ride Maggie or can I ride in general?

I've heard pros say many times that the only way to become a good rider is to ride as much as you possibly can. To me (and many others, I think) a good rider is one who can get on any horse and perform well. Before I owned a horse of my own, I catch rode as much as I could via various part-time jobs and bumming rides off friends. Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Morgans...I wasn't picky.

Thumbs up for Thoroughbreds.
I'm still not picky - I just happened to have taken a likening to a quirky 14hh Arab/Mustang cross and now that I'm an official adult I really only have time to ride one horse a day (unless it's a laid up TB who needs to walk around for 15 minutes and I'm getting paid for it...then I have time for that too.) But I don't have the opportunity to hop on five different horses a day to school them and hone my skills. 

I imagine that there are other adult amateurs out there that might share this same insecurity. How often are you able to get on a horse other than your own? Do you feel out of place on another horse?

19 comments:

  1. I think about this a lot. I rode horses my whole life and then got Connor and never looked back. I'm less scared, less tense, and generally happier on ponies than I am on horses. When a horse bucks, I curl up into a ball; when Connor bucks, I giggle. I just accept that because I am a horse owner, I'm getting really good at riding one horse. I only have the time for 4-5 rides a week - either I focus on getting Connor as good as he can be, or I focus on making myself as good as I can be by riding more horses and Connor doesn't get as much attention/as many rides. Your riding career is what you want it to be, not what other people say it should be.

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    1. Totally agree! I think though, and this is true for most everything, not just riding, that it's sometimes super hard not to listen to people about what you should be doing. Everyone is different and everyone's priorities are going to differ.

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  2. Could be because I'm a naive adult beginner rider but I enjoy/seek out riding different horses. I love hopping on my friends' horses if offered and have been fortunate to ride lots of fun breeds that way. While getting my mare (half-arabian/half saddlebred) ready for endurance, I have been catch riding in CTRs in the meantime. My first ride was on an Arabian, the second was on a Peruvian Paso- both times, the first time I ever met/rode them was on the day of the compeition. For me, it was the fun in figuring out their quirks and challenging myself to see how well I could ride them. My mare is still my favorite to ride though, I've only had her for about a year but she's one in a million.

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    1. I don't think that's naive at all! I still think riding as many different horses as possible is really cool and one of the best ways to learn. Now that I own my own though, it's just hard to balance wanting to ride tons of different horses to get the experience with riding my own and training and growing with her.

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  3. I think that you adapt to whatever you ride - it takes time to make that adaptation, kinda like how you and Maggie are like "one". I'm sure you can ride other horses!

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    1. I think if I had time to adapt to the other horse I'd probably feel less inept. It definitely takes time to adapt!

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  4. ugh i know exactly what you mean. i only EVER rode different horses all the time. before starting with isabel i'd never ridden any one horse consistently for more than a couple months. and now i've been a one-horse gal for like, 3 years. it's crazy. and i definitely feel the self-doubt about 'wait, can i actually ride anything else anymore?'

    but riding different horses is awesome and educational, and even just riding my own little tb friend lately has helped me figure some things out about riding isabel. at least in my situation both horses are almost identically sized through the barrel - so there isn't a big difference in feel (tho obvi one is much taller than the other haha)

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    1. That's really awesome that you've been able to use stuff you're learning on Bali and take it back to Iz. Also awesome that they have some of those helpful similarities despite the height difference!

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  5. I always feel nervous and then guilty riding other horses because they are SO much easier. Sigh. I get back on Tris and it's back on the struggle bus. He is not an easy horse.

    I'm not wild about tall horses but I'm also 5'9" so I "fit" them a little bit better.

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    1. I'm sure I fit a slightly taller horse better too, but at least my leg still sits in the right place on Maggie and I've had people tell me that's what's matters most. I have to admit I can still be a little self conscious about riding something 'small' though :/

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  6. I was just talking to my friend about this same thing the other day. I feel like I'll only ever be competent on big, green-ish Thoroughbreds and I'll never actually be able to ride a trained horse of any breed ever. Which....is really okay with me. I'm never going to be a pro, and I like my horse. As long as I ride him well, I guess I don't really care that much otherwise. It's not as if I'm going to get on something else and lose all my basics.

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    1. I think it's an irrational fear of mine that I'm going to look like I have no basics whatsoever whe I get on a different horse. Judgey people be watching... I try my best though to not care about it also, because I love my pony and yes, what matters most to me is that I can ride MY horse well.

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  7. I really, really suck at riding other horses. I don't do it often and I don't like it. I'm probably a worse rider because I'm so used to Simon, but that's okay with me.

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    1. Instead of saying we're better or worse riders because we're only good at riding our own horse, maybe we should just say we have a more focused skill set? ;) that sounds good! Lol

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  8. I'm cool with going taller (my guy is roughly around 15.1ish) I've ridden a horse that measures at 16.3, and I was totally cool and comfortable...but going shorter? Nope, lol. I'm only 5' so people always want to stick me on ponies, but if they're shorter than 14.3 I feel so weird.

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    1. I think personal preference is a huge factor! Just because you're short or you're tall doesn't mean you can't ride effectively on a horse that someone says you don't "fit"

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  9. I feel giant when I get on little horses or ponies! I don't get to ride many different horses but I always appreciate it when I do.

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  10. In the last year I've only ridden one other horse. And when I bought my TB last year, I had been riding a 15 hand Morgan. When I for on my new horse, his trot and canter took some getting used to. Bumpy trot and ex-racehorse canter/gallop. It IS weird to go from one to another. But I agree: riding more horses only grows us as riders. And good for you for getting paid to do it.

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  11. In the last year I've only ridden one other horse. And when I bought my TB last year, I had been riding a 15 hand Morgan. When I for on my new horse, his trot and canter took some getting used to. Bumpy trot and ex-racehorse canter/gallop. It IS weird to go from one to another. But I agree: riding more horses only grows us as riders. And good for you for getting paid to do it.

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