Friday, January 8, 2016

Some days in the saddle are better than others

The brunette twin had a brutal horseback riding lesson tonight. She rode Hank, the horse she fell off last summer. He was cranky and difficult from start to finish.

In the middle her instructor started yelling at her. Michelle was telling the brunette twin how to control Hank, but the brunette twin wasn't listening. She was scared and frustrated and anxious. She didn't want to pay attention to Michelle as she stood in the middle of the ring yelling. 

I was sitting in the office area watching the lesson when I saw the brunette twin change. At the lesson's start the brunette twin was smiling. By the time I started paying attention she looked pained. I didn't like the change.

I went outside to hear Michelle yelling instructions and saw the brunette twin's wet face. She had tears streaming down her face as Hank battled her attempts to control him. It was hard to watch, even though I knew she could handle Hank.

After the lesson Michelle came over and talked to me for a bit. I listened to her explanation without comment. I wanted to talk to the brunette twin before deciding how to proceed.

The brunette twin cried so hard that she hyperventilated as we drove home. She was upset about everything from her inability to control Hank to Michelle's yelling. She wanted to enjoy her lesson, but she said she couldn't stop thinking about when she fell off Hank during summer camp. She wanted to ride Hank until she got into the ring. She spent the entire lesson afraid to fall off again. The brunette twin said she was done taking horseback riding lessons.

I don't know which horse she will ride next, but it won't be Hank. First I don't think enough time has passed for her to feel confident riding him. We learned tonight that her fear was still real and paralyzing. Second, I don't want to watch her ride Hank again any time soon. I was terrified as I watched her during the lesson. Hank is a huge horse. Every time he tried to buck or run her into a wall I held my breath. I wanted to get her off that horse immediately, even as I knew that I wouldn't take her off Hank. 

From now on, though, she will stay off Hank. She needs to regain her confidence and I don't ever want to drive home with her sobbing like that again. Horseback riding is supposed to be fun. When it starts becoming as stressful as tonight's lesson, it's time to adjust the experience.

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