I’m back in the saddle again…

My accident took a huge toll on me. Not only physically, mentally as well. A constant nag in the back of my mind. Will, I, ever be able to ride without trembling? I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about my next move. The first step was to figure out what frightened me the most. The uncertainty. Feeling insecure about my own abilities as a horse woman. Today, it’s tough to just get out of the bed in the mornings. The way I feel physically, is enough to stop me in my tracks. My mind, however, is worse off than my body. This over whelming feeling of defeat. I know there are other people who feel the same way. I don’t know anyone personally. Which, in this case, has forced me to seek help.

I wrote an ad a couple of weeks ago. It reads as such:

Looking for a Horse Trainer. I am almost 60 years old, so, I need a trainer who has soft hands, and a clear understanding of working off your legs. A person who understands a person with limitations. Someone who has the knowledge of de-sensitizing a horse preferable. I want this horse to be able to walk, trot and lope, with a low head and a loose rein. She does not need any mechanical devices to achieve this. Be able to show me how you achieved this, so I can manage her on my own. You MUST have references. Not a wanna-be or someone who lacks the experience to handle a quick, athletic horse. Centrally located. I will drive with-in an hour drive of the DFW/Metro-Plex area. Prefer something closer, that permits me to observe on occasion. The horse is broke to ride. She has had all her ground work done. She is well-mannered. Saddles, bridles, baths, clips, stands for farrier etc…Nine year old mare, who just needs miles of wet saddle blankets. I will not entertain the thought of any one who doesn’t fit my criteria. You can contact me at 000-000-0000 or text me your number, and I’ll get back to you if I don’t answer. Thanks for your consideration. Susan Murphy

Pretty short and to the point, don’t you think? I got a number of calls with-in minutes. It was clear to me, that not one person, had read or understood the ad in its entirety. Blah! Over half of them didn’t even have their own place. The deals were: Board the horse at a facility where they kept a horse. On top of the monthly board bill, I was to pay the trainer to ride my horse. Yikes! I reckon that’s not a bad case scenario, but, there is no way, I’m going to pay twice the money to get a job done. That’s out-right ridiculous. Then, I got a couple of young girls contacting me. They had much less experience, than my grand-daughter. Not one of them could tell me what a roll-back was or how to achieve a rock-back and forward motion. How to achieve lateral flexion, lift in the front end or keep a horse from hollowing out his back. To be fair, I didn’t specify how much experience, one had to have. This is some pretty elementary stuff. I may be nit-picky, but I want my horse to be able to work off my legs.

Several more folks contacted me, over a period of a week. One day, I woke up to an anonymous text.

Hello Susan! I highly recommend Jake Wiggins in Trenton. He is exactly what you’re asking for. You can find him on FB at Jake Wiggins Horsemanship. His phone number is 000-000-0000. 66139_516702031738888_1829933003_n

I called him. He had a soft-spoken voice. Told him what I was needing from him. He sounded extremely knowledgeable, and seemed to be what I was looking for. I made an appointment to go out and work with him. His place is an hour and a half from my house. A little more distance than I wanted to travel. However, it was worth the gamble. We arrived last Saturday morning, around 8:30am. To my surprise, he was a small fellow. About 5′ 9 and 160 lbs soak and wet. He had a very leisurely way of going, and not real chatty. I had this feeling, he was measuring me up. Not a bad thing. Jake asked to get my horse ready and do what I do to get her ready to ride. I saddled her, worked her in the round pen for a short time, then he asked if he could take over.

He showed me a few things I was doing to inhibit the horse from rolling back on her hocks. Said she had a nice big ass and I should show her how to use it properly. I explained why I was doing it this way. I had watched the method and repeated what I’d seen. He said if I wanted to get her working off her hind quarters, let me show you how to achieve balance, from a different perspective. I was mesmerized by his ability. He slowed down what I was doing to a snail’s pace. Directing her with the lead rope from one hand to an other. Allowing her to step in to the correct lead, by changing hands and asking her to go in a different direction. She rocked back on her hind quarters every time he asked her. After she mastered this, it was time to mount up.

It got chilly real fast. The wind got up. Tin was crashing from the top of the barn a few feet away. She wasn’t the least bit excited. I was surprised to say the least. I told him that she wasn’t acting normal. She was a bit more subdued than usual. He had saddled his own horse prior. I mounted up and she started moving before I got a good seat. I pulled her around until she stopped. Jake said good job! Now let’s ride. We started riding around the exercise pen. Jewels took off walking and left the two standing in the their dust. He hollered, pull back the reins and ask her to slow down. I complied and she kept the same pace. He repeated himself. I gathered up the reins, shifted my weight back and set a block to slow her down. When she almost stopped, he asked me to give her head and move forward. We repeated this exercise until she learned, when my weight shifted in the saddle, she slowed down to a real slow walk.

Next agenda was, picking up the pace to a slow trot. Using the same method as the walk, it didn’t take long for her to realize what I was asking of her. It was time for us to learn how to pick-up the correct lead, using one rein at a time. Jake told me the exercise in the round pen was a starting point. Now it was time to teach her to use her knowledge, on lead changes. Walking around the pen, I picked up the reins one side at a time as she was picking up a right or left foot. Every time I picked up on the right rein, she was picking up her right foot and placing it in the direction I asked for. The same went for the left. We repeated it over and over, until she became comfortable with elementary lead changes. We weren’t doing anything I hadn’t been doing at home. Then it clicked. I wasn’t afraid any longer, so Jewels settled in better here, than at home.

He asked me if I was ready to pick-up the pace. I told him, no!. He asked, why? I said, I’m afraid. His reply was, you don’t look afraid. I hadn’t thought of being scared until he asked me to pick up the pace. He let me know I, didn’t have to do any thing that wasn’t comfortable for me. We returned to the previous exercise. It wasn’t long before I got comfortable again, and said, let’s pick-up the pace. Jake smiled, told me he wasn’t going to get me hurt. I laughed. Jake had a flag on the end of a stick. My horse wasn’t following through with her roll-backs like he wanted, so he used the flag to move her when I asked her to. She didn’t seem the least bit nervous, once he got rolling along with his method of disengaging her front end. Jewels got quieter and quieter as we went along. We rode nearly 3 hours. It didn’t seem that long.

We quit around noon. Said our good-byes and headed home. On the way home, I had this wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Jewels and I did great together! I can’t wait to work with Jake again.

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Posted in Daily Rambling
6 comments on “I’m back in the saddle again…
  1. This a GREAT story Susan, was like reading a chapter in a classic novel about you and this day in your life. I am glad to hear you are back in the saddle again living your passion, hope you have thousands more wonderful accomplishments like this was for you and your pony Jewels๐Ÿ™‚

  2. pgillenw says:

    I agree nice story.

    I do know what it means to fall and I do not have a horse. Would love to ride once more.

    I have immune caused ataxia. Meaning I have zero balance. If I fell in the bathroom this week despite having bars galore. I literately just fell off the toilet. Hurt my body — that I can manage and get through. It however broke my spirit. That is the worst. When my spirit is broken I think of all the wonderful things I used to be able to do — even dream about them.

    Take pride that you could take positive steps to over come. Proud of you for that.

    • highonhorses says:

      Thanks for the encouragement. It’s hard to get going again after an accident. I spent nearly 12 years with-out horses because of my last accident. I won’t let it defeat me this time. I need to loan you some spurs for that toilet! There’s more than one way to ride.๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’m so happy y’all have found what sounds like experienced and very knowledgeable trainer. And your blog just flows like a story. Keep us updated on progress.

    • highonhorses says:

      Awe! Thanks Lib. I’ve been so busy with my horses and work, I’ve not had time to blog much lately. Miss reading your blog. I’m playing catch-up this weekend. It’s raining here.๐Ÿ™‚

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"It's better to ride even if you get thrown, then to wind up just wishing you had." - Chris LeDoux.
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