Yesterday I crossed an item off my July agenda. I took my first lesson with a trainer at the barn. If you’re wondering why this is such an accomplishment, let me explain.
For most of my riding career, I trained with the same person (think of it like having a favorite teacher that you never have to leave). Then, I took many years away from the sport to pursue other things like college, my career, dealing with a cancer diagnosis, and being a caregiver. Finally, last year, the timing seemed right to return to the sport, but getting back in the saddle at 35 is not like riding when you’re a teenager. I’ve spent the better part of the last year working on my position, strengthening my legs and core, and developing my stamina. Now that I can handle riding multiple horses a day without the fear of passing out or not being able to move afterward, I thought I was in good enough shape to take a lesson and return to my roots in the jumper ring.
I was able to lesson on one of the horses I’ve been riding regularly while their owner is away, and he was a true saint. We started off the lesson working on the flat (walk, trot, and canter) before transitioning to going over small fences. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t jumped in more than a decade…okay, probably closer to two (unless we count jumping one small crossrail at a backyard barn in 2020).
It always feels strange when you work with a new trainer, especially when you’ve had such a good rapport with your old one. But working with different trainers helps you develop as a rider, so I’m glad I went outside of my comfort zone. I had a great lesson, and I’m so thankful that the trainer went easy on me. Despite all of the riding I’ve been doing lately, a 40-minute lesson turned out to be way more exhausting than I thought it was going to be (and I can’t even blame the weather since it was the coolest day of the week).
So how does it feel to jump again as an adult? Honestly, I felt so many emotions at once. Part of it felt natural, like riding a bike. But I was concerned that I would be nervous over fences, and I wasn’t expecting to go around a small course, which was what we did in the lesson (check out my Instagram for a short video). It also felt like being a fish out of water, and at times, my body didn’t go where I needed it to. My legs weren’t as sure of themselves as they once were, and by the time I was done with the lesson, they felt like wet noodles.
The goal of working with a trainer is to find things for both horse and rider to improve to strengthen their partnership. I left the ring with some action items to work on, but overall, I was pleased with the ride. And I had fun, which is the most important part of riding.