elorie writes, topically: I think a lot of people avoid learning to draw or play music or whatever...indeed, avoid learning any such new skills as an adult...for two reasons. One, they think that if they haven't learned it by now, they're not going to. Two, they don't like the feeling of awkwardness and dissonance and general foolishness that learning a new skill brings. They don't like being the Fool.
Well, how about Two, plus "I learned this once already, damnit, why do I have to do it AGAIN?"
Pulled myself together, plus sunscreen, and went down the hill. Everyone was pleased to eat hay, but when I went into the pasture, clearly something Alarming was about to happen. Petit Point, quite an able mindreader, started coming in for hay and then ducking off to a safe distance, and then when I didn't seem to be doing anything too scary (I was policing the pasture for trash -- it's incredible what "blows in" from the neighbor's place), would duck in again.
So I had a clever plan. I figured I'd tie everyone up, and give them their grain, and they'd be happy to stand there and eat their grain, reward yay, and then I would bridle Petit Point and the other two could hang out and eat. And, incidentally, I would not be trying to ride Petit Point with two other horses loose in the same area, where they could decide to take off at any minute. Also incidentally, they could all practice standing tied for the new farrier, whom we will see in two weeks.
As no plan survives first contact with the enemy, what actually happened is that I got Recap and Rahat tied up, and then Rahat chose to freak out about having grain poured in front of her nose, and she hit the end of the rope with everything she had. The post held (wow), but then she repeated and the knot went, so she was loose trailing about 8' of white cotton rope. Now, whatever background she has, clearly trailing a rope was a novelty, as she shied like crazy at it. Since I now had an honest to god wreck on my hands, I loosed Recap from her tie rope, since demanding she stand tied while Petit Point and Recap went screaming around at Mach 1 was a bit much to ask of a yearling. No one went down (thank you thank you thank you), but when I I finally caught Rahat and checked her over, she'd manage to rope burn her heels on the left fore and, naturally, splatter blood everywhere. Le sigh. I'd been fantasizing about returning her to Michael unscratched. Led her back to the nearest hay pile and got her chewing (a horse whose jaws are moving is a relaxed horse). Recap found the grain in the feeders, and so did Petit Point, whom I promptly haltered and tied up.
Petit Point took some exception to being bridled, and danced around. And danced around some more. I put the mounting block in place, and worked very hard at relaxing and cuing her softly for what I wanted. A couple times I caught myself about to escalate out of sheer frustration, and backed down. She wanted to face downhill, as that's where baby was, and I didn't want to try to mount uphill, so we compromised on an offside mount. Was very interesting, when we finally got it together, after maybe ten minutes -- standing on the mounting block, I KNEW in my muscles that I could just lift my leg and get on, and I would succeed, and she would stand. And it was so.
Next thing I wanted very badly was for her to walk uphill. In retrospect walking across the hill, on the level, would probably have been the best compromise for both of us, but I really did not want to be heading downhill, so I pointed her uphill. Did I say earlier that I was fine once I got on? That was more of that H-is-for-hallucination stuff. When she was standing perfectly still, I felt balanced and fine. When she was sidling around asking to go downhill, I felt like jello balancing on more jello. Argh!
Well, I had been afraid she would try to take off with me. Hah! and again, hah! I couldn't get her to go forward more than a step or two at a time. I kept rewarding the tries, forcing myself to relax between cues, asking again... and finally she sighed and headed uphill-sort-of-more-like-diagonally, unintentional leg yields are us land. And the whole herd came with us, swirling around in that proto-excited way. She stopped maybe 20 yards from where I'd mounted. I considered the situation, and decided that this really was a large enough baby step, and there was less than no purpose in pushing it further. Slid off, fussed over her, took the bridle off, made her stay a few moments longer, then turned her loose. Off she went at a trot.
I staggered back (yes, my legs were really that limp), put everything away, collected the bundle of trash I'd picked up earlier, and forced myself up the hill. Sat down in front of the computer, realized I really needed some water, and promptly burst into tears.
Then I worked it out: it has been just about exactly twenty years since I last rode bareback. My head is not congruent with my muscles; my head remembers being the girl who would ride Tia (my half-Arab 4H mare) bareback with just a string in her mouth. My muscles, well.
It is so very hard to be patient with myself.