What would you do if you were used to driving a safe, reliable SUV but suddenly found yourself behind the wheel of this bad boy:
This was the experience I had at my riding lesson last week. Louie’s owner was at the barn primping him for a clinic this past weekend and she was going to take him on a trail ride…or a hack…as they call it at my barn. Side note: I can’t decide if that’s an “eventing” thing, or a “trainer is british” thing.
I shot my instructor a text and she wrote me back that I’d be riding the chestnut Welsh Cob/Warmblood cross instead. Panic ensued as it occurred to me that this is the same lovely creature I had been drooling over photos of for a while, since she is currently in training with my instructor. Surely, it was a typo…right?!
I swallowed my heart back down into my chest and assured myself that, even if the lesson was just getting to SIT on the mythical creature, it would be worth it, and I probably couldn’t screw that up too badly. I went and got her from the little barn and brought her up to the wash stall to quickly groom and tack for my lesson. She was quietly alert but I don’t think she moved a single muscle in the cross ties. It was the quietest I have ever seen a horse stand to be groomed. Ever. **SMITTEN**
She is a compact little girl but with BIG movement so right away from the walk I felt the difference and tried to politely adjust myself to the coiling spring beneath me and of course remember every single thing I’ve ever learned so that I don’t botch the whole thing. After a few laps of walk my instructor tells me to pick up the trot. Of course, I totally pop the clutch. The mare is so sensitive and I am more used to having to “speak up” with my aids for Louie, so I probably “shouted” at her. Mild panic mode reengages and I can feel my stupid body defaulting to fetal position as my brain continues its futile attempt to remind my chest and hip to open and my shoulders to stay back. Instructor calmly asks me to ride a 20m circle and we careen a bit as we are still going too fast. There was one brief moment on our first circle that I might have come off- I was unbalanced and leaning to the outside of the circle and the mare suddenly cut in on the circle. The pitch in my instructor’s voice dropped out for a second as she saw exactly what nearly happened and I had a few “OMG get it together you are going to ruin EVERYTHING” thoughts. But we recovered from that moment and things just got better and better from there!
I think my instructor really enjoyed being able to watch her from the ground with someone else riding since she has only seen the videos of her own training rides. She isn’t one to throw out compliments all the time but she said some really nice things about my riding. I think she could probably tell that I knew I was over-horsed but wanted to let me know that I was hanging in there! Which was a really nice confidence boost on top of an already amazing experience!!
Even though she is still somewhat green, I told my instructor that the mare is a huge testament to her training. The training and breeding probably both contribute to the mare’s overall temperament considering she tried hard to please and could not have been kinder to even a beginner. My trainer commented that after seeing that ride, the mare’s price just went up. Haha…damn. I could really use a generous benefactor right about now!!
I also got to thinking, I have been preferentially looking for a gelding when I look at sale horses but I don’t know why I started doing that. I have ridden many more mares than geldings and I have NEVER ridden a mare that I didn’t adore. Perhaps my future window shopping should be more gender neutral…wouldn’t want to scare away my benefactor from buying me the little red Ferrari!