Friday, June 14, 2013

Promises, Promises

I had my weekly riding lesson today. Since one of my lesson buddies didn't come out to the barn, it was just going to be me and Champ in the ring with my trainer. Knowing that Champ is *spectacularly* difficult when he is alone in the ring, I got the option to ride Promise, a Thoroughbred mare owned by one of the boarders at the barn.

Promise is pretty green, in that she has not had a lot of experience doing things like jumping, or working on the carriage and impulsion for dressage. She flips her head around quite a lot, and is occasionally spooky. But she is willing, and has a good work ethic, although she demonstrated today that she does, in fact, know where the ring gate is. At least she isn't SO pushy about going out the gate when she isn't supposed to.

She's beautiful, too.

She's also a skinnyish horse -- not as broad-backed as some warmbloods I have ridden -- and she is sensitive to leg and seat and hands. The sensitivity is a good thing; I realized that I only have to think about bending, shift my weight in my seat, turn my upper body, look to the next spot, and she is turning in the direction I want her to go. I have to ride with very light hands. My trainer took away my gloves because she thinks it makes me ride heavier in my hands. I hate riding without gloves, and *I* couldn't tell the difference in the weight on the reins, but she said it was better. So I will ride without gloves, then, I guess.

We didn't canter or jump. I spent most of the lesson working her at the walk, bending, bending, bending on the serpentine and 20m circle and figure-8. I feel like I did more work on my riding, and on Promise's way of going than I have in many weeks. We put a standing martingale on her to reinforce the idea that she can't go around with her nose stuck in the air or with the constant flippy-flippy-flippy of the head, and it helped. No real arguing or freaking out or pulling against the martingale, just a 'normal' head carriage, relaxation, and brief moments of being on the aids. I got round circles and bendy bends, and she pointed out to me all the ways in which my seat and hands can be unstable, and how I don't anticipate my ride enough sometimes -- like closing the outside aids to prevent her from falling out of the circle or going toward the ring gate in that particular spot between H and C.

I wasn't scared of her.

And then there's Champ, who I hoped would be my buddy, but I am not sure we still want to do the same things anymore. He's so much fun to jump -- he's the first horse I actually feel like I could practice jumping on without supervision from my trainer, and he loves to do it. I can gallop him and not feel like I am being run away with. He can do 2'6" to 3' and not work too hard, and more importantly, not throw me out of the tack. He doesn't really refuse unless I hold him back and make him refuse. He's not spooky, doesn't buck, and isn't skittish when being worked with on the ground.

We rode briefly on Tuesday evening. He was being a pain about going up to the ring, and so I walked him a bit, then cantered (he didn't even bother with a gallop), jumped an 18" gate fence a few times, and then he made a beeline for the ring gate. Done.

We had had a great lesson last week, and I was hoping maybe that represented a turn of the corner toward a better partnership, but I just don't know.

The offer to half lease Promise is still on the table, but I hesitate. First, because she represents much more horse than Champ. Second, because the lease would be more expensive than what we pay for Champ, and that is problematic. And third, well, what if it doesn't go well? The last time I rode a horse that was considered green, I was terrified. And also 23, and while in better physical shape, most likely, definitely less experienced, so there's that. I wouldn't be riding her at all if I didn't have the skills to do it, and I certainly would not have been offered the lease if my trainer thought I couldn't handle her on my own.

It's frustrating, but I think I am going to hang on to Champ, at least through the summer, and ask if I could ride Promise in lessons periodically. I want to keep the option to ride on days other than lesson days, and if I let go of Champ, I wouldn't have that ability.

It's hard being patient, knowing somewhere out there, the horse situation for me is just waiting for good timing.

No comments:

Post a Comment