It’s funny how much you can learn in a week. I have this colt I’m working with. Ok, technically a filly, but everyone just calls her ‘Coaly’ or ‘your colt’. I’ve been riding her for about a week and a half and we’ve had her for two weeks before that. She’s my first colt, describable in two words.
Don’t get me wrong. I love her. I love riding her (mostly). I love seeing the blue roan in our pasture (close enough to a strawberry roan, ya know?). But I’m used to a fifteen year old gelding who’s biggest problem is that he whinnies and is a little bit herdy. Not too herdy, but a little bit. Ok, ok, I take that back. If you aren’t careful with Okey, he’ll buck with you. But he hasn’t done that since he bucked me off three years ago. He still does little hops…but not full bucks. So yeah, we have some pretty good horses.
She was pretty good at first. She took the sacking out, picking up her feet, all that stuff real good. Then Grandpa gave me a boost and I was laying on her back. Then I slid a leg over. Then I was sitting on her. And all I could do was smile.
We did pretty good then. The next day, we put on the saddle and I rode her around like that. The next day, we went down through the housing development. The day after that, the trail. Then:
She figured out where the barn was. Mhmm, barn sour. Bad barn sour. We live on a busy road, so we’ve been leading her down that (I don’t relish the idea of getting hit) and then getting on. On the way back, we found out that, as well as being naturally gaited, she was very eager to get back to the barn.
A little too eager.
Oh boy, I thought. But then, the next day, I tried to ride her away from the barn. I didn’t have a lot of time that day and I didn’t figure that it would be that big of a deal for her and me to do a little obstacle course. It wasn’t that far, just a little way out to the pasture and back. That was the day I learned about riding uppity horses bareback.
Honestly, I’d never ridden a horse who threw her head around, sidestepped, plain refused to go–did I mention the head throwing?–much less bareback. But somehow, there’s this thing about determination. I was determined that she WAS going to go around that barrel. She was determined that she WASN’T (so know I know if she really wants to get that cow, that cow hasn’t got a chance! 🙂 ) . But somehow, my determination held me on her and she did go around that barrel.
Today, when I rode her away from the house, I was saddled, and quite prepared for the battle…which took up two lanes of the road. 😉 But soon she was walking off down the side street and we were on our way. She did hurry coming home, but it wasn’t as bad as the day before. And she did keep going in circles at the stop sign, but I was able to stop her for about fifteen seconds–a good start.
Yes, Coaly is a culture shock, but she’s a good culture shock. Over this past week and a half, she’s taught me more than I’ve ever learned in a very long time. How to slide on, how to not spook her, how to know when to be forceful and when not to be, how to ‘feel’ her relaxing, how to hide my emotions–oh my word, she’s going to rear and I’m going to die (she didn’t, btw) to oh my goodness you are the most beautiful horse I have ever seen–under an impression of calmness, how to relax and let her explore, how to sit deep in the saddle, how to discreetly slip two fingers under the saddle horn so it doesn’t look like I’m a sissy, how to grab onto the saddle horn with both hands to go over a ditch only to find out that it’s not that bad at all, how to roll with the punches…and that’s only the beginning.
Yes, dear Coaly the Culture Shock, already, on that first day, when you found your confidence, I found mine too. Thank you.
We are going places together.
The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. – Sharon Ralls Lemon