Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve ridden what I’ve considered to be some fairly decent Dressage horses. I’m talking lowest possible level Dressage (Intro level stuff). I’ve leased a couple, owned a couple, lessoned on a few. Things really seemed well and I was having fun. Put a little consistency into it, ride 2-3 days a week, in a few months, I’d have a horse that I couldn’t get near with a 20 foot pole anymore, let alone sit on and actually do anything constructive with.
I started riding Dressage in 2000, to help improve the quality of work out of my very best show hunter over fences, to help teach him to use his huge bum and not lean so much on his forehand. It was so cool way back then, when the horse that would trip over his own feet had learned to lift up and canter practically in place, nearly doing pirouettes. I really started to love Dressage. And I pursued it failed miserably at the very most basic levels possible ever since.
The whole time I till continued to ride hunters, here and there depending on my commitments to Dressage lessons or lease horses or my own horses or whatever. And I really don’t have problems with hunters at all. I’m not looking to jump 3’6″ again, I do agree at least that those days are over, but I enjoy riding the school horses around my 2’6″ – 2’9″ courses. I’ve done a little 3′ jumping on my very bestest favorite school horse and I hope maybe to do a little more here and there, otherwise I’m perfectly comfortable at the level I’m at and happily willing to stay right there.
But on the days when I don’t ride my favoritest school horse ever and have nearly perfect rides and work on cool things like fun roll backs (I LOVE rollbacks, I think they’re the best thing ever) and challenging courses like medal courses, I ride other school horses.
Last week, my very favorite school horse was unavailable. So I got put on a horse that I’ve ridden a couple times before. Now, this lanky 16h thorougbred is really poorly conformed, in my opinion. He has that horrible hunter’s bump on the top of his back and is just overall not a lovely horse. He acts like he has shivers when you pick up his back feet and he starts spasming like he can’t control where his legs go, he bites you when you try to tack up. I’ve only ridden a few times and prior to the ride last week, I’ve never jumped this particular animal because I’ve don’t really get along with him.
The last time I rode him, by the time I was done “warming” up, I was so nervous on this horse that I wasn’t even wanting to have a lesson! He does NOT bend his neck to the left at all, he drags you down by grounding the bit, doesn’t get his leads very well, and is very touchy and sensitive. Kind of a typical TB, I guess. He’s a little spooky and combined with an extreme unwillingness to go forward, only backward or sideways on that last ride, riding this particular horse is not top on my list of favorite things to do. I’m not interested in the challenge horses anymore, I’m fat and older and the ground is a lot harder than it was 10 years ago when I’d ride *anything*.
So anyway, last week I ride my least favorite school horse and have a good ride considering. No antics, I even jumped. Granted it wasn’t pretty, but in terms of jumping, staying on, picking leads, it was successful. So I was satisfied at least that it was a better ride, and even on a not perfect hunter ride, there is still improvement compared to when I ride Dressage and think I’m improving and really end up ruining a perfectly good horse.
So this week, I volunteered to ride my not so favorite school horse. He started out head high and spooking at EVERYTHING, which combined with my ingrained distrust of this horse, started the ride off on a bad note, and I got nervous. I really feel like this horse will explode and go crazy on me, kind of he did once. I don’t trust him very much at all, BUT this ride this week, I had a much better ride on him. Ok, so my jumps were about 14″ tall at the most, but I did half a course on him, 6 in a row. Yes, we couldn’t get the leads correct and had to break to trots in the turns, but the very last go I had, we got balanced enough that we actually landed on the correct leads right off and I didn’t have to worry about simple changes.
All in all, it was a good ride. Certainly not my best example ever of my great horsemanship skills (yea, right), but still a MAJOR improvement over my last 2 rides on this horse.
While I hope next week to ride my favorite school horse again, I won’t mind so much if I’m on this one again. I can improve within a ride and from one ride to the next on this horse, which is more than I can say with Dressage.
No pictures, though.