In March a wonderful girl contacted me and offered me a horse that had competed to training level in eventing. I was so excited, this was the answer to my prayers. A horse that could teach me how to jump so when Graycie was ready, I could teach her.Birdie turned out to be a fantastic jumper. He had tons of anxiety, but when it came to jumping, he was brave, reliable and kind. He even started teaching me. “Psst, aren’t you going to tell me to take off here? This is the spot.” No matter what mistake I made, he never held it against me. He approached the next jump with “I know you’re going to do it right this time”. I’ve never known a kinder or gentler soul. He was hungry for my approval and I was happy to give it.Graycie was coming along, and I’d even jumped her a couple times, but I knew I needed to do more.My good friend Cherie had been going on an on about this dressage instructor she had. I needed help with Birdie on the flat and I also needed help with my riding. I’d gotten as far as I was going to on my own. I decided I should get a lesson on Birdie with Elizabeth Madlener.I’ve never considered myself the best rider in the world or anything, but I know how to ride. I did dressage in my early riding and won more than my fair share of ribbons. I galloped racehorses for 20 years or so and earned the respect of my peers.I was excited to get a lesson. I really wanted to get myself improved and was anxious to help Birdie. That day, I left that lesson, knowing I don’t even know how to ride. Plain and simple, I am a total idiot.Now I’m no quitter. I don’t give up without a fight. So I tortured myself for the next week. Riding everything I could, working on sitting correctly, getting my legs back and trying to find my right seat bone. I have no idea where it was hiding, but I couldn’t get in on the saddle to save my life.The day of dread came and it was time for the second lesson. I had worked hard but, didn’t expect anyone to notice. I still felt like an incompetent in the tack, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. I had this wonderful horse, Birdie to think of and then there was the most magnificent creature to ever walk the earth to consider.This lesson went well. Now mind you, I still had a hell of a climb to get where I wanted to go, but I was on my way. I felt it a good time to bring up the Gray Monster. I needed to lay down the ground work with Elizabeth because in my mind Graycie was special and I wanted to be sure whoever helped me would never damage her spirit. It was decided the next lesson would be on her. I made arrangements to ship Graycie over to the indoor during the week so I could see how she’d react. She hadn’t been off the farm since she was a race horse.My plan was to longe her and then get on her if she seemed okay. It was a flashback to the past. 900 mph on the longe line, I don’t know how she stays up. I know, occasionally she doesn’t. She calmed down to a dull roar and I elected to get on. JK said “Are you sure?”. I said “No, but I’m going to anyway.” It was a little creepy at first, but she calmed down and was quite good.
On Laying Down The Foundation in Dressage
7 years ago