So as I was trotting along my body went right to posting, not the most comfortable in a western saddle that is a few sizes too small. I started to think of ways to stop a horse. There is always the good old “haul on the horses mouth”, but not only did I not want to do that because that is mean, but I didn’t want her to feel like she had done something wrong since I know she is so sensitive about stuff like that.
It took me a lap around the ring to figure out her steering. She would turn towards whichever rein that you added pressure to. Using my legs would make her go faster and taking them off would slow her down. Knowing all of this information I made a plan. I decided that the best way to stop was to just run her into the fence. Graceful I know. I wanted her to know that she wasn’t really doing anything wrong, but also that she needed to stop. Coming into the corner I used my rains to keep her straight instead of turning and just like I had wanted she stopped just before we went crashing through.
As I mentioned, this mare is a camp horse so she is not used to top riding. She cracked me up because with her head over the fence so it was outside of the ring she stopped and turned back to look me. I swear she was trying to roll her eyes at me. It was hysterical. I had to laugh and while I was cracking up she slowly backed herself out of the corner and turned to walk away. For the rest of the ride when I had to stop I had to use the fence to help, but she was starting to pay attention to my voice commands.
I got off after 15 minutes of mostly walking (she would break to a trot and then it would take some time to get her to walk again) she was blowing, but I was smiling. You see, the ride was really challenging. I enjoyed having a challenging, yet safe ride. The way that she was taught to go is nothing at all like how I ride.
I never steer using my reins! I never have to use strong rein pressure to get a horse to stop! I never have a horse go off to the next gait when I put my legs on. I patted the mare and told her what a good girl she was. She was doing everything right in her book. Thinking back I am sure that I put leg on when I got on. I am also sure that if I pulled back on the reins she would have stopped. It was like we were speaking two different languages.
The next day I almost did not ride because the neighbors were taking their wooden deck down. I thought it would be crazy to ride less than 10 feet away from where there was loud banging and things being thrown into the back of a pick up truck. I put tack on and went to lung her thinking it would just be a good lesson to work on voice commands again. Well she was a total rock star. She did not bat an eye at the noises (I on the other hand kept jumping). That is when I totally fell in love with her.
I don’t need a horse with training, I just need a horse with a good head and a good heart and that she has in spades. That next ride was better than day one and we didn’t even have to use the fence to stop. I am totally smitten with my new project pony. I am looking forward to putting dressage basics on to her and getting her fit for the next two months. The best part? She makes me want to ride again! Yay!