Rambles About Riding

When I started riding again earlier this year, I knew it wouldn’t be long until all of my free time was dedicated to horses again. In September, I started half-leasing this amazing mare named Petunia from my trainer. She’s a 6-year-old, 17.1H Oldenburg mare (I know – that’s a foreign language to some of you) with a plethora of potential (say that three times fast!) and an amazing temperament. It was sort of a win-win situation: Petunia needed more attention. I wanted to ride more. And we both needed consistency.

Naturally, I immediately began spoiling her rotten.

It was a bumpy ride at first – literally and figuratively. There were definitely moments where I doubted myself as a rider, not because she’d done something bad, but rather because she challenges me in ways that I’ve never experienced before. It’s like I’m riding outside the box with her, if you will.

Over the past few months, she’s taught me so much about riding, patience, and hard work. I also credit my trainer for teaching me much more technical aspects to riding as opposed to sitting pretty. Not that the trainers I had growing up were bad, but they had a much different approach to training. I used to think my children’s hunter was a tough ride. Now I’ve learned I had it easy because he could practically read my mind AND he had auto lead changes. Riding at 31 is a lot different than riding at 17. I’m nowhere near as fearless, strong, or flexible as I once was.

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We’ve competed in two shows since I started leasing her. The first was rough around the edges, and the second, well, I completely and totally forgot how to ride. It wasn’t exactly my finest hour, but wine helped in the aftermath.

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One of the things I love most about this mare is her incredibly huge heart and willingness to try. She’s made so many bad days good and helped me forget about stress and anxiety. She genuinely WANTS to please me. She WANTS to be a good girl. There’s not much she won’t do for some treats and attention (which is probably why I relate so well to her).

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As I look towards the 2016 Show Season, I’m excited for what’s to come and grateful for the opportunity I have with this incredible horse. I realize I’m incredibly lucky to be able to afford this hobby of mine, and I can’t imagine ever going so long without riding again.

 

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Devon Stiles

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