When I started riding with Alana, it was in lessons with a friend of mine from graduate school. I ended up being an adult among many juniors, like, for real young juniors, kids who rode for fun and did a great job but were kids.
Thug Pony Lyfe
I started taking semi-private lessons with the aforementioned friend and after two lessons Alana said “look, you don’t necessarily need more weekly lessons, you need more saddle time.” So I started leasing Mighty, a twelve-ish year old ottb who was well-known for taking care of students and generally being a really solid guy.
I met my to-be Riding Best Friend (we will call her RBF from now on for ease of typing for tipsy Nicole), when she started taking a semi-private lesson with me. I wasn’t super confident about riding at the time, but when I met her I apparently said “I’m sooooooooooo glad there’s another adult here I can talk to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
(Writer disclaimer: I have had a lot of gin and I don’t remember this moment at all, regardless of the gin I just had!!! However, I do recall being very excited to have a new riding friend.)
It didn’t take many lessons for RBF and I to start riding together outside of lessons to. We would coordinate our lease rides so that we could sit the trot or canter without stirrups together, and then bitch about the pain and the glory of it. You know how some people are just totally easy to ride with? You just stay out of each others’ way and don’t have to worry about what the other person is doing, and can even work together? That’s what riding with RBF is like!
So then I went to live in Kenya for the summer and do some pilot research, and RBF stayed home and honed her dressage skyllz. I did not hone any riding skills in this time, and when I came home I started leasing a new horse. Quincy was going to teach me a lot about riding, I just didn’t know it yet.
Quincy is like “No, Nicole, dressage is NOT for you right now.”
RBF and I could no longer take lessons together, which was sad, because we were at totally different levels. I was back to jumping 2’3″-2’6″ and learning how to get stronger and straighter and avoid runouts on a horse that wasn’t going to do it all for me, and RBF was training for Novice level with her horse. But we still drove out to the barn together all the time, and I somehow ended up watching a lot of her lessons. I had way more free time then.
After two more years apart — I went and did research for a year and came back, RBF moved away for a year and came back — we still ride together all the time. We would send one another dressage articles constantly, and were always chatting about our ponies’ progress.
Why do I love riding with RBF so much? It’s always fun, even when it’s a hard ride or a bad ride. We put things in perspective for one another, and can reflect on our rides together. We can be helpful during our rides, or before or after them, and I think we’ve both learned a lot from one another. We have the same philosophy, make fun of ourselves for the same things, and of other people, and we’re always there in a pinch. Last month when Murray squashed me in the wash rack and then bolted when I was trying to poultice him, RBF was on the other side of the stables when she saw Murray loose and immediately ran over to the wash racks because she knew it was nothing good. Then she poulticed and wrapped my renegade demon horse, after wrapping me with an ice pack!
Everyone should be so lucky as to have an RBF as good as mine!