As you may recall, I was spectacularly bucked off by Gil a few weeks ago, an event that played a large roll in the arrival of Tucker. Now that Tucker is all settled in, I have started riding him. And he is as wonderful as I expected. Barring a few technical issues, like bridle fitting-he has a dainty head- we were off and running, so to speak.
Once we fixed those little details, I headed out to the area that serves as my riding ring. It is unfenced and grassy, though the remnants of footing poke through the weeds. There used to be a fenced round ring there, right next to the indoor arena, which is all gone. No trace remains except the sandy ground. Yeah, I try not to dwell on the fact that there was a beautiful, large indoor ring. Sigh.
Anyway, Tucker and I strolled out to ride. My other boys ran back and forth along the fence, calling out to thier new friend. Tucker looked at them a bit, ears pricked and curious. He then glanced at the neighbor's two driving ponies who had trotted over to their fence to watch.
Tucker and I picked up a trot, did some circles, then walked a bit. He dawdled around on a loose rein. I shifted in the saddle and Tucker picked up speed, breaking into a a trot and acting like he was ready to canter. Now this was not a disobedience, it is usually the normal progression of a ride. You walk a bit, then trot, then move into a canter. He was trying to anticipate what I wanted. When I asked him to stay at the trot, Tucker obliged. He's a good boy.
This is where my problem lies. I was scared. As soon as Tucker began to move underneath me, my whole body tensed. Horses are sensitive creatures. They can feel a fly anywhere on their body. Tucker had to feel the tightness that spread from my arms, to my chest, through my abdomen, seat and legs. His head came up and his stride shortened, a sure sign of tension. But he did nothing. No buck, no stop. He simply did his job.
Today, I got on again, determined to relax and enjoy the ride. Same drill, though this time I took a lunge line and had him work in circles around me before I decided to get on. Tucker was fine. He trotted over poles, walked, cantered. No problem. Until I got on. Again, Tucker did nothing to warrant my fear. He was an angel.
But the fear was there.
So much in fact, that I rode around for a very short bit and dismounted. I was shaking. I cried because it felt like failure. I have been riding regularly since the Gil incident, but I have been riding a pony. And when Jake the Wonderpony does something naughty (and he occassionally does) I tense up, but relax quickly. When I first tried Tucker in Vermont, I was nervous. Not terrified.
This fear with Tucker is devastating. And, of course, I overanalyze it. Part of it is riding in the field alone, part of it is that Tucker is not a pony, and he is a Thoroughbred. He is nothing like Gil. But my body does not seem to accept that fact. It's like being possessed. And it is the reason Tucker is perfect for me right now.
I am determined to conquer it. I understand what happened with Gil; in the big picture it wasn't that bad. My ego and my hip were bruised. It is simply amazing at the fearful resonance that remains. It is unconscious and unexpected.
I have a plan. I am going to make either Mr. W or a friend ride Cosmo. I can take Tucker to ride at my friend's farm, where there are always others around. I got through the other stuff, this should be a cakewalk.