Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where Hunters Live

I finally got out to the hunter barn to audit with the trainer I've been talking to. The first appointment I decided to reschedule due to A.) the trainer was going to be in Lexington, VA at a big horse show and wouldn't therefore be teaching, having handed the lessons over to the assistant trainer, and B.) An ugly tropical storm was making the weather very tricky to drive in.

But last Friday the weather cooperated and I drove the 20 or 30 minutes to the new barn. I love that it has an indoor, that right off the bat is a plus in my book. I still had some apprehension though because in my experience hunter barns are dens of materialism, fake pleasantry, and massive games of one-up-manship. This barn, however, so far is different.  Most of the people who will be riding in my class are middle aged women, school teachers, stay-at-home moms, friendly sorts. There are a couple of teenaged girls in the class but they also seemed well grounded and less inclined to the hunter princess cliche.

The trainer, K., seems knowledgeable and has the kind of ethics that put the horse's wellbeing first. She is also a very big fan of OTTBs, which is another plus in this barn's favor.

I will say after having watched the lesson group that I will be weaving in to tomorrow that I am at the high end of the skill level of the class. I'm not saying I'm the best rider of the group, but maybe my eventing background where you do certain things to get the right response in dressage and jumping have put me far ahead of the rest of my classmates. For example K., told one of the teenage girls who is also at the higher end of the skill scale how to get the horse she was riding to bend in to the corners. This for me is second nature because as eventers we need all the points in dressage that we can get, and making our  horses bendy in the corners is one of those ways to get extra points.

The only thing that I wanted to really do when I was watching the flat part of the lesson was to tell almost every one of the riders to get their horses going more forward at the trot.  I could feel my leg muscles twitching in response to the lazy trotting of all the horses who  all seemed to be wearing a very smug expression on their faces.  I don't  know yet what horse I will be riding, but I can assure you that horse will be moving out at all three gaits.

I'll report back after my lesson tomorrow. Until then keep it between the flags everyone.

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