I finally met Tyco’s owner this weekend- by accident. A work trip took me out of town last week so I hadn’t ridden since last weekend. In our loose arrangement, weekends really aren’t mine to ride unless I ask or trade a day. I made plans with my barn buddy to ride with her Saturday afternoon. The nice thing is, my amazing friend has two horses and she is a wonderful sharer. So I had a plan B. I wrote to Tyco’s owner on Saturday morning asking if I could ride Tyco if he was sound. She never wrote back but considering I had a solid contingency plan, my friend and I packed up and headed to the barn together for a pony club sesh.
Lo and behold! She exists! Tyco’s owner came down to the little barn to grab him and I introduced myself. She was a little surprised and I told her not to worry, that I wrote her this morning, but it was okay, I could ride my friend’s horse so she could ride Tyco. She insisted I ride him and said she just came to give them a little TLC and so she grabbed her mare, I grabbed Tyco, nodded to my friend that I’d meet her up at the arena, and off we went.
She mumbled some stuff about her job and having to move them home and apologized again. I nodded and kept scraping mud off of Tyco. She insisted that if the lameness was from his old “injury” that he’s been vetted many times and I would not be hurting him by continuing to work him. She also told me about how much better he would be this summer when he gets shoes and his injections and is back in work. I nodded again, thinking “that will be so nice for you” ya know, like a good horseborrower does when she knows her arrangement has a rapidly approaching end date.
She free lunges the mare and talks deep to the trainer about life. The trainer sighs watching the talented mare prance around envisioning her trail horse future.
I am excited and a little nervous when my friend and I enter the arena. I want the owner to watch Tyco go so she can confirm any lameness but this is the first time she’ll have seen me ride so of course it feels like a tryout. I shouldn’t have been worried. Tyco was not spooky, and only had the slightest hitch in his trot that disappeared as we went on. The owner was complimentary in that way that makes you feel like she is half ecstatic to know her horse is in good hands, and half self-shaming as bits of jealousy creep in. It’s the tone she uses. “He is so happy, you know.” “He likes you, I can tell, he doesn’t like everyone.” “I bet you never get nervous to canter…”
Yes, you know the type. I have all the feels she has at the same time. I understand.
I am being a good horseborrower, but the mood is slightly somber. The owner chats with my friend as I smoothly move Tyco through his paces. He truly is liking this work- I have been working so hard on biomechanics stuff and he really seems to be responding to it. We are finding our stride together and he is remembering all the cool stuff he knows and can teach me. I am working on my own biomechanics, simultaneously, which is helping just as much. It is a pace thing. The general pace of the ride. It is not so fast that we are just cruising around on autopilot, but not so slow that we aren’t being productive. It is just right. I am listening to him and he is offering me good energy. I notice when he bulldozes through, thinking the work will be easier if we just go faster. Sometimes I feel like this type of work is like yoga: you can convince yourself (or the horse) that since it is slow, it’s not hard work, and then all of sudden you are exhausted from having worked so hard! For a few moments he is so light and I can ask anything: walk to canter, halt to trot, canter to walk, with the tilt of my pelvis or the weighting of a seat bone. My gosh, is that not just the best feeling?!
It is good for morale to have rides like this. Helps confirm that I am on the right track in my own training and is also a perfect reminder that if I were to buy a horse, this is the level of pre-installed training that would be ideal for me in this moment. Tyco knows how to use his body correctly but you have to ask for it and maintain it. He will happily pop a hip or shoulder out unless you provide a supportive channel. But he is an extremely willing partner and not easily frustrated. We are a good match right now.
My friend and I had such a great pony club saturday. Our ride was quiet and we were both in the zone for most of it and both horses were just so relaxed and happy!
Dressage is no dirty word for this girl.