A Barrel Racer's First English RIDING Lesson
Hi friends! I had quite the equestrian experience this past week! Let me share...
So I had a background in college and youth rodeo before starting my internship at RIDE TV last fall, and I never really had any interest in the English disciplines.
However, after searching Pinterest and the internet for blog content each week, I didn't want to admit it, but I became kind of fascinated by cross country and show jumping! I grew up competing in every sport I could, so I really appreciated the athleticism that I saw in the photos and videos of these events.
Feeling like it would be a good opportunity to improve my riding skills and learn something new, I decided to sign up for English lessons! Here's a recap of my first one!
Week 1: Watch and Learn
Before actually beginning, I wanted to go watch and ask the instructors some questions about the sport. I wanted to know things like what the difference between hunters and jumpers were, and what equipment I would need to buy, etc.
I hung out on the ground with my instructor Michelle and her dog "Rocket" while Katlyn practiced on her horse, "Wilma"... Where there are horses there are dogs!
While listening to the two of them talk I realized there's a lot of English lingo I need to learn! There's about a million different words for the types of jumps.
Week 2: Riding "Skeeter"
My boots literally came in the mail right before I had to leave the house for lessons. I put them on, drove out to the barn, Michelle helped me tack up "Skeeter" the 12-year-old paint I would be riding, and then the lesson was underway! I spent the hour getting a feel for the new saddle and style, working on my posting and diagonals, trotting in two-point position around the arena (it felt like I did that for 55 minutes of the lesson), and over poles. I really enjoyed it, but there's a lot of differences between rodeo and riding English that I will have to get used to! Here's 5 things I learned from this experience...
1. Breeches are more comfortable than jeans
They're like thick yoga pants! They were wayyyyy more expensive than I anticipated, but I found a pair of Tredstep Symphony breeches for $25 on EBay (they normally go for around $120)!
2. But breaking in tall field boots sucks a lot more than breaking in cowboy boots.
If Anderson Bean ever decides to make field boots, I'll be all over it! These boots pinch and blistered just about everywhere from my foot to behind my knee, so I can't wait until these are broke in!
3. Tacking up is a lot faster.
The saddle was really simple and a lot lighter than western saddles. I enjoyed how quick and easy tacking up was! The bridle I used had a few more buckles and pieces, but I think I will get the hang of it quickly!
4. The close contact saddle isn't so bad.
I loved how the close contact saddle felt. Since I'm not used to a shallow seat and low pommel I'll have to get stronger in my core and legs so I don't lose balance if my horse yanks on the bit (Skeeter took advantage of that).
5. English riding is intense!
Who needs a personal trainer when you can just take English lessons? I run almost every day, so I thought I was in decent shape... not! There were moments when I was out of breath and I felt my legs were fixing to give out! My toes were numb most of the time, and my entire left foot from my ankle down was numb. I went home and soaked in Dr. Teal's! I was definitely sore for a few days, but I'm really glad I get a new workout each week!
I didn't get any pictures of my first lesson, but I will try to get some of me riding next time! I'm excited to start cantering this week! Do you have any tips for this beginner, #RIDENation? Let me know! Catch y'all later!