Madison Avenue
Alexa, Age 14, Trussville, AL

 "Alexa! Mrs. Anna emailed asking if you want to ride Maddi in tomorrow’s lesson. Do you?" my mother asked.

I told my mother to tell my trainer, Anna, yes. Mrs. Anna had been searching for a horse for me to lease for about a month. There had been no luck. She had mentioned Maddi a few times before, but I hadn't shown much interest because of her costly price. Maddi was known as the nicest, most experienced horse at Lachlan Farm, my current barn. Maddi had the most show experience and the biggest collection of blue ribbons, but she had a price to match. Fortunately, I decided to give Maddi a try, and ride her in my Tuesday lesson.

Tuesday morning, on my way to the barn, I felt a sudden urge of nervousness. Even though Maddi was a polite, loving mare, something about her intimidated me. When I got to the barn, Mrs. Anna gave me some information about Maddi. She explained that most riders would over-think their actions on Maddi, just as they would on a young, inexperienced, beginner horse, and told me to ride just as I would on most horses. After grooming and tacking up, Maddi and I were ready for our lesson.

As I put my gloves on my shaking hands, I started to imagine what advanced type of jumping courses Maddi and I might have to do. When Maddi and I walked into the arena, I saw my trainer setting up two jumps at the height of two foot three, and I suddenly felt a great deal of relief. Mrs. Anna was not going to ask me to complete a confusing jumper course consisting of 3.5 foot jumps. I walked Maddi over to the mounting block and adjusted my saddle and girth one last time before I mounted.

"Alright, once you walk a couple laps to warm up, you can start trotting," said Mrs. Anna as she walked across the barn to get a bottle of water. Maddi and I walked a speedy two laps and started trotting around the arena. Maddi did not feel like most horses I had ridden. Her trot, a two beat gait, was the smoothest, most comfortable trot I had ever experienced. Although Maddi was a big Hanoverian mare around 16.3 hands, she seemed to glide around the arena, as opposed to the careless plodding that some horses tended to do. "Lookin' good! Now see how much you can get her to bend around the corners," my trainer said. As soon as I got to a corner, I applied pressure to Maddi's stomach with my inside leg and took up some slack on my inside rein. Before we knew it, Maddi and I were cantering around the arena, doing flying lead changes, and leg yielding on and off the rail. After a five minute walk break, my trainer announced that we were about to start jumping. I immediately felt excited and anxious. I trotted Maddi to the far end of the arena, did an opening circle, then picked up my canter. Maddi cantered, perfectly paced, to the medium sized jump, and glided over it. I knew at that moment that Maddi and I were a team, and that she was the horse I wanted to ride.

Maddi and I progressed throughout the lesson. The jumps were raised, but I never felt intimidation or nervousness because I knew that Maddi and I were a compatible pair, and that I trusted her. After the lesson, my trainer told me that Maddi and I made a perfect team, and that she thought it would be wise for me to ride Maddi and make further progression. I gave Maddi a perfect bath and smiled the whole time.

I ended up leasing Maddi, and still am to this day. Maddi is not only a phenomenal horse, but she helped me overcome my intimidation of some horses. I no longer get nervous when my trainer challenges me. Maddi and I still make a perfect team, and I am thankful that she helped me overcome my fears.

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