Friday night I had a banquet about two hours away and spent the night at a friend's house after. We went out Saturday to ride her horse and stopped on the way to pick up some blankets she had at a training barn she had her horse at over the summer/fall. While at the training barn, one of her friends was clearly upset over a bad lesson and Jess took her aside and talked to her for a bit while I watched some lessons. On the way to where Jess has her horse, we talked about what was troubling her friend. Same thing that Jen and I talked about on Thursday; the friend wanted to be able to ride perfectly now, and was frustrated that it was taking her and her horse longer to get a concept that she thought it should. Jess mentioned that the girl was a decent rider, but was very impatient and her horse wasn't the smartest or most athletic.
Now Jess has seen me at my worst with Phoenix, when we would get into huge fights, usually ending with my crying and wanting to sell him. I told her that it must be like old times, her talking me down and convincing me to give Phoenix another shot. She replied that not only is Phoenix a much nicer horse than her friend's, but that I'm a better rider than her. Me being me, I brushed it off, not trusting in my abilities.
When we got to Jess's barn, she had me hop on Garth, her gelding, and hack him around. She said he had been heavy on her hand, and not wanting to bend. I looked at her bits, and chose a Waterford. It's a good bit for horses that lean on the rider's hand, but can be harsh if used by a hard handed rider. Jess is pretty soft handed and she used to jump Garth in this bit.
After a quick lunge to get his bucks out, I got on and tried to work on some more dressage-y movements with Garth. We tried some leg yields, shoulder in, and spiraling in and out at the walk and trot to loosen him up. It wasn't great, but by the end he started to give and soften and Jess said he looked good. She set up a crossrail and we trotted and cantered it both ways. To the left was awful, he really wanted to drift right. Since it was the same problem I had with Buddy on Thursday, I felt confident in my ability to fix it. I held a counter bend thru the turn and slowly let him straighten on the approach. Better, but we were still slightly to the right of the center of the fence.
Jess had gone back into the barn to put away a horse she had been lunging and I reset the jump to a 2'6" vertical. Jess has schooled courses up to 3'6" with Garth, so I know this fence wasn't going to be a problem for him. We cantered around and while our distance was pretty long, I didn't freak, just closed my leg and drove him forward. No big deal. Came around and did it a few more times and it was easy peasy. Went to the left and had to focus on not letting him drift, but again it wasn't a big deal.
As I was walking him out I was proud of myself for getting on a horse I've only ridden a couple of times years ago and jumping him like it was no problem. A few years ago, I wouldn't have been able to do more than the crossrail. I would have let my insecurities about my riding to cripple me. Thinking back about what Jen and Jess had said, I'm staring to agree that I'm better than I think I am, and that I'm a rare rider....the one who doesn't think I'm better than I am and able to see and ask for help when needed.