You never can tell…

When I was younger, I didn’t think anything about what a horse did when he or she was turned out. It never even occurred to me that wild acrobatics and running at light speed might translate into the same behaviors under saddle. I just assumed that they knew not to do that when they were ridden – and because I believed they wouldn’t, they rarely did.

Well, you know, time passes and the age-related chickenshit syndrome (should we just name it ARCS?) kicks in. In the past month or so, I saw the Small Spotted Gelding do airs above the ground loose in the arena and the Beautiful Thoroughbred Mare run like hell and spook at everything when loose. In both cases, I was absolutely convinced they would do this to me under saddle. I was sure I needed to Be Prepared for Anything (!) with both of them. I was shopping for the stuff online that sticks your ass to the saddle, sure that I no longer had the seat to ride the acrobatics that surely were coming my way.

Of course, I was completely wrong.

As you all know by now, the SSG has been even quieter to break than the VLC, and that is saying something. Ride #7 tonight and he was trucking along at a nice even trot, both directions, even changed direction through the middle and past his MOM (the human one) without trying to stop and visit! Josie was working with the Big Gold Yearling, who was also excellent tonight. I am sure she will talk about it on her blog. Anyway, I ended up thinking about how I had been just sure that the SSG was going to be this quick little ball of fire under saddle – and now here I was, seven rides in, getting a damn good leg workout keeping him in 2nd gear.

(Which is a good thing. Lazy ponies that need leg sell better than quick little ponies that need tough little riders. No complaints here. My calves could use the workout.)

But the real surprise tonight was the BTM, Karen’s mare Honey. I had been on Honey once before, in the indoor. She was snorty and spooky and walking at light speed. Josie observed that her turns were so quick, it looked like she was doing rollbacks. At the walk. I was pretty convinced this was what I had signed on for, so I was busy psyching myself up to just get out there and Ride Like I Used To…i.e. get on the hot potato and long-trot ’til the brain kicked in and hang on for any spooks, spins, or other maneuvers. Tonight, I came home from work fired up and ready to go. I got on her outside and…

She was dead quiet. Even kind of lazy.

Yes, apparently the BTM’s issues are all about the skeeery indoor arena, with points of light coming through nail holes in the wall and various other questionable features. And really, should I be surprised? How many racehorses are ridden in an indoor arena? I’d kind of forgotten this fact, it’s been so long since I’ve ridden a fairly “fresh” OTTB. In the outdoor round pen? She was fine. Fine. Totally quiet and cooperative. Walked and trotted both directions, halted and stood on a loose rein. Did not even spook when the Pony Princess bolted at warp speed (and being part draft, that is not done quietly) from behind the barn and past the round pen. I was so surprised that didn’t spook her. We were all sitting there with our mouths hanging open going “I can’t BELIEVE she didn’t spook!”

Wow. Wow. Wow. And what a smooth and comfortable trot. I am going to really enjoy her, and here I was thinking she was going to be one of those that you get off every night thinking “Yay, another ride down and I lived!”

You know what’s going to happen, of course. I’m going to get some horse in that I have to chase with a longe whip to get it to jog when it’s loose in the arena and that is the one that is going to launch my ass!

Published in: on June 24, 2008 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  

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