Counter Canter-ish

The weather outside was still bitter cold and snowy a few weeks ago, and had no end in site. I needed to have a solid counter canter on Ava before the middle of April and we were nowhere close to “getting” it.

In jogs the Western Rider.
WR: “What’s your horse’s deal?”

Me: “She’s frustrated”.

WR: “Why’s she keep taking the wrong lead?”

Me: … “I, uhm, I want her to.”

WR: looks at me, then spurs horse to trot faster.

Why is it that dressage is the only (horse) sport where the “wrong lead” can be the right one? And I’ll tell you a secret, okay? I’ve always felt like counter canter was borderline OCD on the ‘controlling your horse’ spectrum. I mean, seriously, my horse will flip leads just to have that inside leg leading, and my response is to say, ” Ha Ha, screw you pony! Do it the hard way!” I almost feel evil about it.

I understand the long term benefits of it, so we’re working on it.

Last weekend we were able to use the outdoor ring with no one else around. I made sure all other riders were far, far away. That no prying eyes could secretly watch us moronically flailing around the ring on the wrong lead.

Do you know how many goof up’s, or gross looking tries, it takes to make counter canter look easy? My, uh, “friend” was wondering. 😉

Monday, we did get half of a corner without breaking, or switching leads. I know it sounds dumb, but gosh darn I was proud!

Tonight, we’ve got our sites set on a whole corner (not two, just one). Assuming the western riders, jumpers, and other assorted riders/watchers don’t fall down laughing while Ava and I careen around corners. Wish us luck (we need it)!

Friends Horse

Me and my big mouth! A fellow boarder was having life issues and finding it difficult to make time to ride her horse (aka: Ned). The first words out of my mouth? “I’ll ride him for you!”. <– with stupid grin plastered on my face.

Up until this point, I had heard stories of how Ned walks on his hind two legs all the way to the barn, how he bowled over his owner when she tried to fetch him from the pasture, and that he not only bucks hard when ridden, but tosses in a twist to throw riders off balance. Oh, and he may rear under saddle too.

And yet, there I was… tacking up Ned to ride. In my head I’m hearing, over and over again, every nasty habit Ned has. And I’m wondering: how good am I? Can I stay on? Can I do this? Am I being retarded?

All this Is going through my head while I’m trying to figure out how to get a saddle on a back I can’t reach.

 The first ride went like this… 
 Me: “Ned, please halt”. 
Ned: ….. I wonder if I can rip her arms off?
Me: ” I am serious, Ned!”
Ned: “la la la la, I can’t heeaaar you.”
Me: “Ned, you better not buck or I’ll kill you!”

I felt… scared. This was like knowing your car’s brakes are going out, yet you still have to go down a huge hill to get home.

The second ride wasn’t much better, except now the end door was wiiiiiiddddeee open. I had to pull out every trick I’ve ever learned about faking calm when scared to death. Apparently it was a passable enough version of calm to fool Ol’ Ned. The ride was a bit harrowing at times, but still much nicer than the “Evil Pony” incidents.

The third ride, when I saw Ned’s vein throbbing in his neck, nostrils flared, and head up in the ceiling…. To be honest, I nearly called it quits right then. Just hung up my helmet and called it a day.

I lunged instead, then hopped on. At first it was the same old deal; ask him to stop and he pulled. However, since there were 8,000 horses in the arena (okay, 4), and limited brakes on Ned, we were forced to do tiny figure 8’s, and massive amounts of changes in direction. Suddenly, Ned stopped pulling, he let me guide him, and when I asked him to stop with my seat – he stopped! He even came to a fairly nice and balanced halt from a working trot.

So, moral of the story….
If you don’t brace, the horse can’t brace.

Or, don’t offer to ride big, scary horses if you’re a chicken.

Or, stop trying to stare down death because one of these times you won’t win.

Or, repeat after me “I don’t have time to ride two horses”!