I wanted to learn how to trot. That seemed to be a natural progression from walking. My instructor helped me figure out how to ask WhiteStar to go faster and so I tried to practice it a little bit each week. WhiteStar and I were both a little rough: I because I was nervous and she because she dislikes anything that requires that much effort. Nevertheless, I was determined to trot.
I was still using the bareback pad instead of the saddle. I liked the feeling of using as little equipment as possible and entertained dreams of being as talented of a bareback rider as an Indian brave.
This particular day, I rode WhiteStar around for a little while at a walk. Then I asked for a trot. It started out bouncy and got even bouncier. Those of you who are riders know exactly what I am talking about. As I stiffened, I bounced more, and then WhiteStar bounced more as she tried to cope with the jabs in her back from her unstable rider.
There was air between my horse and myself. I panicked. I was starting to fall to her right side so I pulled the only thing I could get my hands on -- WhiteStar's left rein. Sweet, obedient horse that she is, she stepped to the left. When I came down from that last bounce, I came all the way down...to the ground. Ouch.
I was considerably shaken, both physically and mentally. Nothing was seriously injured -- just some stiffness and soreness that would wear off in a couple days. But my body and my pride had been considerably jarred.
Anyone who rides horses can tell you that it is normal to take a spill at least once. But, for some reason, I felt like it was the end of the world. I had fallen off a sweet, tame horse at a slow trot. It was pretty embarrassing, and I was sure that my instructor would think that I had no balance at all.
To cover up my embarrassment, I hopped quickly to my feet and pretended the fall had been no big deal. WhiteStar was as unsettled as I was. From my point of view, she had bounced so hard in her trot that I had been bounced off. But from her point of view, she was doing something very difficult and I abandoned her halfway through it. As she stared at me with wide, wondering eyes, I bet it didn't even occur to her that it might have been her fault. And why would she? I asked her to trot, made it uncomfortable for her, and then leapt off her back mid-stride. What in the world was I thinking?
My instructor came to check on me as she saw me getting up off the ground. I tried to hide my hands which were shaking from adrenaline, and I told her I was fine and that it wasn't WhiteStar's fault. Then I engaged her in showing me how to play one of the games that I had been trying to do earlier.
That was all fine and good until I cried in the middle of the simple game. My instructor was completely bewildered as to why I was crying until she figured out that it was leftover from sore landing gear and mental anguish. It had nothing to do with the simple game at all.
Of course, crying is even more embarrassing. I blinked the welling tears away, shook my head, and blew out through my mouth. Whew...let it go...I am NOT crying here.
My instructor cocked her head at me. "No, you need to cry," she said.
I am not quite sure why it is. It doesn't make logical sense to me. But you know what? She was right. Somehow, tears and dirt just go together.
For the record, I rode WhiteStar again that day (you know the old saying about getting back on a horse when you fall off), and I have not fallen off a horse since then...although I am still a little bit chicken and use a saddle if I am going to be trotting. ;)
And I still had dreams of being able to tear around a field on a horse bareback...someday. :)