The last few years, I have noticed that my finesse at shifting gears is not as good as it used to be. My touch and balance with the clutch it is not as smooth; it’s slightly jerky. For those of you who drive standard, you will understand what I mean. This issue seems to appear when I engage 1st gear from a stop. I sometimes end up revving the engine before the gear is engaged. Or perhaps, when I release the clutch I pop it instead of releasing it with a smooth motion. Not all the time, but still..... Balancing the clutch and gas when I am stopped on an incline has become an issue for me. I am terrified of rolling back into another car! More often than not, my car sounds like a small engine plane getting ready for take off as I try to ensure that the clutch is engaged just enough to keep the car still on the incline. This has become such an issue for me that during rush hour there are some hills that that I will go out of my way to avoid. Driving standard is becoming a pain in the buttinski.
I had it in my head that because I knew how to coordinate my feet and hands when driving my car, I would know how to coordinate them when it came to riding :-) Yes, I had visions of being able to ride any horse presented to me when I first started lessons because I would be able to communicate to them so subtly and precisely that horses would love me and people would be in awe of me. Ah, not quite. Sigh.
The last time I rode Gem in the arena, I did not have spurs on (I use English spurs) and I did not have my crop with me. He was preoccupied and unresponsive. There were times I really had to kick him to get his attention, I had to push much harder to get him going and to keep him moving. Maintaining my balance became an issue. I rode him for 30 minutes and when I dismounted I was exhausted. Now, some of you out there might think that I should be working hard like that regularly; that I should be able to ride my horse without the use of artificial aids, with the exception of the bit. But, this ride reminded me very much of my current situation with driving standard; not being able to coordinate the gas and the clutch. Not my idea of fun.
Gem is by nature curious and lazy. But he is low maintenance and reliable....like my cars. :-) I only get to see him twice a week, and if I want to have a decent ride during lesson, I have to wear spurs - it helps to give him a much clearer message of what I want and frankly, it makes it easier on me. The crop is more for show than anything else; he just needs to see that I have it. :-) These aids, used in conjunction with my verbal commands, help make the ride a more productive and pleasant experience for both of us. Does that make me lazy? Perhaps.
It was pointed out to me recently that Gem's response time to my cues to transition is much quicker. What? Could it be that we are working more as a team? Yipee! Yes, confidence plays a part in how he is reacting to me. But I also think that his quicker response time is a result of my brain is processing what needs to be done and my body reacting without me even realizing it! I am not over-thinking what needs to be done, like when I am on a hill trying to balance my clutch and gas. Cues are becoming ......dare I say it.....automatic!! This means that my hope of becoming a respectable rider is one step closer!