Drop the passengers

Since I fell and broke my elbow, my trainer has been telling me to “drop the passengers,” meaning to sink all my weight into my core. “Pretend your body is a double-decker tour bus,” she says. “And you want all your passengers on the bottom.” Pretty effective metaphor, actually.

For my lesson today, the ring was finally back to normal: all the snow had melted from the back end that doesn’t get as much light, and it had been dry this week, so the footing was good. Since we had the entire ring, we were going to use it. Because I fell and broke my elbow at the back end of the ring, my trainer thought I would be nervous. I wasn’t, or I didn’t feel it if I was, but just in case, she reminded me to drop the passengers, and off we went.

Cinnamon, my little lamb chop

Cinnamon. He’s such a cutie.

Cinn was off from go. He was very looky, especially at the back end of the ring. At first I thought maybe it was my fault, and that my body was giving off some sort of tension that I wasn’t aware of. One of the mares in the field near the ring was having a lie-down; Cinnamon didn’t like that either. Every time we passed her, he’d scoot. My trainer blocked off a dressage arena in the middle of the ring and we moved into that, but it didn’t help. Everything bothered him today: the mare, the geese, someone on a neighboring property firing blanks to scare the geese (okay, that’s legit scary – but it doesn’t always bother Cinnamon).

Twenty-meter circles also, apparently, had a taste for horseflesh today. We started one, and about three strides in, Cinn double-stepped and scooted, almost exactly like he did the day that I fell. This time, though, independent of my own conscious awareness, I “dropped the passengers” and stayed put. My trainer pronounced me good, and we decided that Cinnamon realized I could handle a misstep, I realized I could handle a misstep, and circled around to try it again.

This time, just before we went into the trot, a large box truck ambled down the road, and made a banging noise that trucks make. Well, that was it was for Cinn, and he took off. In fairness, took off for a lazy Appaloosa means cantered from a walk, which was fortunately nothing I couldn’t handle. I just stood up in two-point and once I got my bearings, slowed him back to a trot, and then a walk. I could tell from my trainer’s voice, though, and the way she was saying, “Just sit back! Just sit back!” that she thought I was going to fall again.

To be honest, I kind of did too. But my choice in the moment was to hit the ground or keep riding, and I wasn’t about to risk another broken elbow. It really wasn’t the best day, and neither us of were thrilled with Cinnamon’s behavior (which was really uncharacteristic of him) but as my trainer put it, “it needed to happen”. Now I know I can handle a little spook, which is an acceptable takeaway, considering.

I still hope next week’s ride is better, though.

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