After too long an absence, I returned to my riding instructor several weeks ago, the one I found late last summer. Today I had my third lesson. I take these lessons at mid-morning, after I've awakened, but before I can begin to quicken with the day.
I am so willing to work and learn; I mean, I surrender nearly all self-consciousness in front of this very skilled rider/instructor. The only time I flush is during the in-hand work that begins each lesson. Time slows, seemingly hobbled by my fumbling with the longe line, side reins and whip. We start with a minute or two on the circle, the line threaded through the snaffle bit of the double bridle, then add a side rein, switching it all when we reverse direction. After the old schoolmaster is stretched out, I do close in-hand work, moving him around my outstretched arm, keeping him bent and crossing under. It feels awkward simply because it lacks the fluidity of routine, is all. I'll get better at it.
I wondered if we would have to go back to the beginning when I first returned. I wondered if I would realize that I had only imagined the seemingly instant connection between my instructor's ability to teach and my ability to learn. I hadn't imagined it, and we didn't have to go back to the beginning. Some rust cracked off, spiraling gently to the ground, when she moved my leg back three inches. That took two minutes. Since then, we picked up from where we left off.
Today she began to mine a dormant seam, activating muscles in me that I think I never used when riding, didn't know to use. They are muscles one needs to rely on for a deep and centered seat. I am thankful they were still there in me, forgotten but not gone. It made me realize that, for me, what this instructor will teach me is how to ride my mare with my body, not just my mind. There are some tools which only the body can provide. The mind, for all its self-importance, has little provenance when those tools are required. All my thoughts designed to reduce anxiety come to nothing without my body knowing itself in the saddle. I am excited to see it so plainly.
My mare is shining with good health and ready strength. I am going to take her to my instructor's barn for the month of August, and September too if I can manage it. There I sense we will emerge toward one another together, I feel it. Already, I'm counting the days.