How do you hit soil?

Sky Ball Paint was a devil's saint and his eyes were fiery red.

Good men have tried this horse to ride but all of them are dead.

Don't mean to brag but I rode this nag 'til his blood began to boil.

Then hit the ground and ate three pounds of good old fashioned soil.

This was the song they sang at my favorite summer camp when anyone came off a horse. It was once sung in my honor when I was bucked off a horse whose name I can no longer remember. They would have sung it in my honor again today because I came off my horse Gracie during my lesson.

There are a lot of reasons (excuses) I can come up with for why I came off today. I'm learning to ride in a new saddle that has changed my balance (true), my horse didn't feel like working (true), so she crow-hopped in protest (true) and in the new saddle I couldn't keep my balance (true). Thank God for the soft footing in the arena because the only thing I injured today was my pride. 

I swore by heck I'd break his neck for the jolt he gave my pride.

So I swung my noose 'round the old cayuse and once more took a ride.

I looked around and soon I found his head where his tail should be.

I said, said I, he's either shy or he just don't care for me. 

This is not the first time I've come off Gracie. I fell off of her when she spooked within two months of getting her over nine years ago. I was really injured then  - I fractured the transverse process of two of my vertebrae and couldn't ride for three months. I've also fallen off due to a poorly fitting saddle that liked to slide to the left or right when on a long trail ride. (Side note - please always have a professional saddle fitter check your saddle. Trainers and friends are not always qualified to give advice in this area.)

Perhaps it's the wisdom of my "old age" (okay, I'm not that old) or the natural horsemanship principles I follow, but I did not get mad at Gracie for crow hopping. When something like this happens, I tend to think, "That was interesting." So instead of blaming my horse, I think about all the things that led to this. So here goes:

1) My horse is out of shape. 

2) I have not put in the time required to get her in shape.

3) I have not put in the time required to get used to my new saddle.

4) I have not been riding consistently in a very long time.

5) I let other priorities dictate how often I get to the barn.

6) When I get to the barn I don't like to work hard because this is my leisure time and leisure time is supposed to be...leisurely? 

You get the point. I have no one to blame but myself. Gracie is boarded at a Dressage barn, and we're surrounded by horses and riders that work really hard on a consistent basis to constantly improve their skills. Honestly, it's pretty intimidating. So instead of showing up consistently and improving my skills, I fail to show up and end up failing myself and my horse. 

So now that I've acknowledged that I am actually the problem, what's next? Well, obviously, I have to recommit to making Gracie a priority. I need to find every excuse to get out to the barn instead of every excuse not to. I have to get back in that saddle, and get back in it often.

Let me ask you this: How do you hit soil? What happens in your life when you realize that you are the problem, obstacle, road block? Do you blame others, or blow it off like it's not a big deal? Ask yourself how you're responsible for the things that happen in your life and how you can change to improve things. After all, the only person you can really change is you. 

I, for one, plan on dusting myself off and getting back in that saddle.

Kristen Hall