New Experiences

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to ride a really nice Irish Sport Horse cross that a friend of mine owns.  He’s five years old, approximately 16.2-ish hands, and has that dumb-blood personality, but man can he move!  His canter is to die for. Most amazing canter I’ve ever ridden.denali

I “lucked” out on the ride because he dislodged his owner and she’s not quite healed up enough to get back to riding him again. He’s actually a sweetheart. His owner has done a fabulous job with him. She’s exposed him to just about everything a baby horse should be exposed to, and done it in a way that has created a confident and curious horse. His problem is he’s big and athletic, and normally nothing phases him… so a hard spook/bolt can catch the rider off guard and leave them with a loooong fall to the ground.

 

I was really impressed with the training he has on him. You know that feeling when you get on a new horse and the everything is just there.. the buttons, the aids, etc. That’s how he felt. I had an issue with figuring out how much contact he likes (very little).  And, once I convinced him that the short midget legs were really leg cues then everything went swimmingly.

He is so much fun to ride. And frankly, I was really impressed to feel how good the training was. It’s wonderful to see a young horse so well trained by an Adult Ammy. She’s done all the work herself, from the ground up. It was impressive. I wish they were all this nicely handled and trained by 5 years old.  I swear, if I had the money, I’d buy young horses and pay her to train them. She’s that good. And she totally doesn’t realize it.

When I went out to ride the 5 year old for the first time, the owner of the barn offered to let me ride another horse they have. The mare was described as a Dutch Warmblood with dressage training, but is too hot for the lesson kids. I was assured she was safe enough for the average rider (as I don’t wish to die quite yet).

I cannot pass up an opportunity to ride a sane horse, so I said yes.

That’s when they explained she hadn’t been ridden in quite a while.

AAaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

And that she was very, very hot. Hot. Capital H type of Hot.

Aaaaahhhh!! Scary!

Did I mention I’m a chicken?

I let the owner lunge and then ride her first. I was nervous watching the owner ride her. You could tell the mare was almost charging through the contact.

My order of “Most scary horses to ride” goes Rearers, then bolters, and then those darn bronc buckers that leap all 4 feet up in the air with head between their knees.  My worst, and frankly only, serious injuries have been from bolters.  ** knock on wood **

So.. I was a tad nervous about riding the mare who appeared to be charging through a rather strong bit.

I got on after barn owner didn’t die. I was sweating bullets.

She’s a nice horse. Difficult ride. She really wants to lean on the bit and then rush through it. I felt like she could bolt off with you in a wide open setting.

A lot of half-halt/release. More of a soft “no, here” and then let her be while you controlled the rhythm with your posting. Then she was fine.

She has a hard time bending through her body. It was really easy for her to find ways to evade bending through her body. She had several tricks all planned out and ready in waiting. It was actually kind of fun to see if I had more tricks then she had evasions for.

And, nope. Not that day. I couldn’t get her to respond to the left leg correctly without a whip and I didn’t want to carry a whip unless I felt I had more brakes. Catch twenty two. Probably would’ve been fine, but new horse.. new rider. I’ll tackle it next time.

I was assured she becomes more level headed the more consistently she’s worked.  I bet she’s a blast in consistent work. She’s actually a really cute mover. I think she’s flat because she’s stiff. I bet that trot becomes quite stunning when she’s relaxed and supple (pictures don’t do it justices. moves better in person)

 

They had a slow twist snaffle on her. I’m always really nervous with stronger bits. I’m a decent rider, but I do have a tendency to snatch at the bit when I get scared. And since I get nervous on new horses, I really prefer the softer flat snaffles to limit the damage done if I get startled and snatch. I did snatch this mare once. She kicked a rock up into the metal gate  and it startled her. I snatched. She immediately came to a dead halt and did a little mini-rear to voice her displeasure. I felt bad.  Poor mare.

Anyway, I got done riding both horses and on the drive home I was thinking to myself “Why would anyone let me ride their horse? I suck!”

And then I get a text from my friend with the 5 year old asking me if I can ride her young gelding again and saying that the barn owner really liked how I handled her mare. It was so nice to hear!

 

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Roux

I’ve been riding a green broke half-Arab, named Roux, who I think is just awesome. Currently her owner is away at college (Hi Maggie!) and I secretly hope she leaves Roux at the barn the rest of the winter. 😉 Ok… That’s not so secret now that I wrote it.

Last night I rode Roux. At first the mare is tense and wants to jog. I was worried about her bolting so I had a shorter rein on her. I really concentrated on feeling relaxed, loosing my muscles, breathing deeply and evenly while we walked. After a couple minutes, Roux settled down really nicely.

We then proceeded to trot, which is kind of awkward on this mare. She’s so green she just doesn’t know… When you initially ask for the trot she gives one big strike off, then comes to a grinding halt, then jumps forward again. It is impossible to look graceful during all this. And even once the trot gets going, randomly she’ll have such a loss of momentum that it tosses you forward. It’s like going from 60 mph to 10 mph in the blink of an eye.

So, we’re trotting, and I’m trying to just establish some kind of rhythm in the trot. I’ve got a fist full of mane to help with my balance, and i’m trying to keep a light, but steady contact with her mouth. At one point, I feel the mare grab the bit and start to bunch up like she’s going to bolt. Obviously my first reaction is pull. She pulls harder, speeds up. I’m starting to freak out. Horse is starting to freak out. And then it struck me. What if I just relax? So I did. I posted really slow, loosened my death grip on the reins, and let the breath I was holding out. It worked! It totally worked!! Horse came right back, matched my posting, and let go of the bit. It was awesome!

We played with regulating her tempo with my posting for a while and then quit for the night. All the while I’m counting out loud “Oooonnnneee, Twwwoooo, Oooonnnneee, twwwwooooo.”

I felt stupid. But eh, it worked.

What a fun horse to ride! It reminds me of Vic when he was a green bean.