Wonder if I could shrink the VLC in the dryer?

Kidding…kidding…sort of.

Okay, so I took my first cutting lesson last night and it was the most fun I’ve had on a horse since my polo days. Now I want a cutting horse. (We’ll do pics next time, I promise)

I had forgotten how long it had been since I’ve been on a really broke horse. I mean, I am trying to think back and it is entirely possible I have not ridden a non-green horse since December 2006, the last time I ever rode my old polo pony Raquita. Since that time, I have ridden:

a) unbroke, start-from-scratch young horses
b) horses with 30-60 days on them
c) broodmares that only ever had 30-60 days on them…15 years ago
d) OTTB’s
e) rescue horses with completely unknown histories, most of which appeared to be 30-60 days broke…10 years ago

Hmmm, okay, I think I went on a trail ride in May ’07 on my friend’s well broke Standardbred, but that is it! I’ve been riding nothing but greenies that are work to ride for a long time now. What a total pleasure it was to go out for this lesson and get on this lovely little bay overo paint mare who loped around on a dropped rein and slid to a halt every time I asked her to. I have to get her real name – apparently she’s been to APHA World and everything. She is built like a tank, absolutely adorable (definitely meets my “breeding quality mare” standard), and really knows her job – but she’s also a school horse and you could tell she was evaluating me.

The first test was the left lead. She said she would prefer to take the right lead. I think it took four tries but we got the left lead. She loped off, resigned. It took two tries the second time, and the third time she just gave up and did it.

The second test was plain old motivation. Kimmie is who they put all of the beginners on. I imagine this encompasses quite the range of riding skills. She is not going to hurt anybody, but she has also learned that working hard is probably optional. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not typically a spur wearer. Before the lesson my friend who was taking me with her texted me.

Friend: Bring spurs
Me: I don’t own spurs

Trainer Guy, the kind of guy who probably wears spurs to bed, kind of rolled his eyes at my lack of spurs.

“You can try it. I don’t know if it’s gonna work.”

Hmph. I have been around the block a time or two and I do believe I can get something into 2nd gear without spurs. Well, in practice, he had a point. I did get Kimmie into gear but I could see where a little extra speed on the response would have been helpful. I will purchase spurs before next time.

For those of you who have not tried cutting, all I have to say is OMG SO MUCH FUN. Seriously. I leaned forward a little too far the very first turn, which I learned not to do because I caught my bra on the horn and snapped myself a good one. I sat up after that. My friend who was watching said she saw me “get it” after the first three turns, and then we just had a ball. The hardest thing for me was to stop parallel and wait and watch the cow…from polo, my instinct is to turn and take off on the fly, and you don’t do that here. You stop parallel and you don’t let the horse turn to face the cow. You sit and you stare down the cow and wait to see what he’s going to do. And you’d better be ready when he moves. There’s a reason they let you hang on to the horn in this – honestly even if you’re a solid rider and used to doing rollbacks and working at speed, these horses are so quick that there’s no way you’d stick with the force of the motion if you didn’t steady yourself a bit.

Cows are interesting. I’ve never worked cattle before. I used to ride my mare around during team sorting and go wander around with the herd but that was it. They stop, and then they do one of two things. Either they try to change direction (that’s when your horse does the left-to-right skiing motion you’ve all seen cutting horses do, to cut them off) or they just decide to run like hell, in which case you run like hell and stay at their shoulder. That part is kind of familiar since in polo, you run like hell and bump shoulder-to-shoulder, so I’m used to watching another animal and trying to match their speed. Sometimes the cow slows and you have to slow too. You really get tunnel vision – I would not have noticed if a bomb exploded adjacent the arena. I was so busy watching that cow.

A couple times one really got to running. I booted old Kimmie in the ribs and asked for more. She pinned her ears and thought about bucking but in the end she gave me more. I just loved her personality – she reminded me of the COB. I do have a soft spot for that kind of hard bitten working horse attitude. Even when we weren’t out there practicing, if a cow came too close, Kimmie flattened her ears and gave him snake face. Now that’s a horse who knows who she is. She’s the predator. They’re the prey. I’d never question that she was doing what she loved. It was obvious.

Did I have any fear at all about getting on a brand new horse and doing a brand new sport involving running like hell and turning faster than I’ve ever turned in my life? Absolutely zero. You know, she just felt solid from the start. I think this is how the VLC is going to be in a year and it’s one of the things I’m happiest about with him. Even if he is too big to be a cutting horse. 😉

Trainer Guy said I did good. I did not get the impression he is given to excess words or flattery, so I assume I did good. I am going to make this a regular thing if I can figure out how to pay for it. The price is actually really fair, $45 including the use of the horse, but an extra $45 in my budget (plus probably $25 in gas to get there and back) isn’t always easy. I am already wondering if he will let me clean stalls…

So when was the last time you tried something totally new on a horse?

Published in: on July 3, 2008 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

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