More often than not, are hotter than hot. In a lot of good ways….
Pardon the horrible use of Disney song lyrics, but it really is quite fitting for describing my Saturday and will not be the last one in this post.
I started the morning helping a friend prep her pony for a professional photography session. A lot of fun, and a lot of Showsheen later, I think she is going to have a tough time choosing because the photographer showed me a few of her snaps and they were ridiculously cute. I can’t wait to see the chosen ones.
I continued right on to barn number two with a friend who also played photo pit crew. Traffic was a joke and it took us maybe an hour and change to get to a place that’s like 35 min away normally. Thankfully, the car air conditioning revived me and when we finally arrived, I was ready to enter a whole new world. And boy, was it! Everyone was, whisker-less, fine-boned, and baring a long bridle path and exotic name. Well, except for the mare named Hannah Montana…
My friend introduced me to her gelding and her mare who both sweetly called to her when she passed their stalls. We took out her gelding first. He has a fancy registered name too, but his barn moniker is Ralph. Though, a supposed animal communicator who used to board at the barn once told her that Ralph said he’d actually prefer to be called Raul. You can’t make this sh*t up. Ralph is 15 years old, quite tall, and a really pretty light bay color. He looked freaking spotless with his short coat gleaming until my friend ran her hand across his flank and showed me her now grease-black palm. Wow, these guys sure hide dirt well.
I don’t have a huge amount of experience with hotter blooded breeds and, I’ll admit, they do intimidate me a little. You know how some arabians always look like they just got electrocuted? It makes me uneasy. If your nostrils are flared and I can see the whites in your eyes, then I can only assume you are poised to explode, any second, in an undisclosed direction. So while Ralph was pleasantly quiet and exceedingly polite in the cross ties, I had a tough time stopping myself from trying to soothe things that are breed characteristics, not body language indicators.
We took him to the arena, before tacking, to let him stretch and blow off a little steam. It was quite a display. Here it was, like a zillion degrees and humid as hell, and he was practically levitating around the arena. My friend assured me that he will let us know when he is done. After that shining, shimmering, splendid display of power, we tacked him up western. I told myself it was because I was wearing jeans but I think I was probably seeking the comfort of some extra leather just in case things went south. She used some tack I am unfamiliar with, some kind of martingale? and kindly brought out a set of braided reins to swap out the split reins that were on the borrowed training bridle. It has been a coons age since I have used split reins. After we pieced all that together, I lunged him. He was very well-mannered and light on the lunge. She rode him briefly and took him through his paces, then it was time for me to throw my hand in, wish me happy landin’.
He felt great! A little sticky to move forward, but I think it had probably just hit him that he had made a mistake earlier by zooming around the arena for so long in the heat. Once we got going though, he was happy to work. I never once felt nervous or in trouble, though I know full well he is more horse than I am used to. I walk, trot, cantered him and found myself cursing my choice of western saddle. It felt so stiff! I was trying to fix the bend by using my hip bone and I felt like the rock hard saddle was just like NOPE.
Ralph knows his stuff. He’s probably had $100,000 worth of training. My friend is fairly no-nonsense, and as a result, her horses are very courteous. Ralph took great care of me despite still trying to see what little things he could get away with. There were a couple of times when she asked me to correct him for leaning on the bit- he knows better. I was just up there like “he’s not really that heavy… I can’t even feel it.” We cantered, and that went pretty well. There was one moment when I could feel him take this coiling stride like he was ready to open the throttle and I said, “let’s not.” He complied and we transitioned to walk instead. Again, I felt safe the whole time, but that split second sensation was the reminder that I was playing with something that had a bit more power under the hood than the relaxed draft crosses I am used to.
We gave Ralph a good rinse afterward since he was lathered. This was probably the most disconcerting portion of the whole visit. Apparently, Ralph does not like baths or the wash bay. He has had some traumatic experiences in the wash bay and is prone to nervously tap dancing until the bath is over. She held the hydrophobic horse kite and I operated the hose. It turned out pretty well.
She brought out her mare for me to meet and she was a very lovely, spicy, creature. She lunged her for quite a while and the mare showed no indication of tiring. I sat in the arena and made friends with the barn cats while I watched the dainty mare produce the most feminine series of broncs and bucks I have ever seen. My friend rode her and she behaved quite well and looked very nice. She offered to let me try the mare too, just walk-trot to cool her out but I declined. She had told me earlier how Ralph is kind of like, “are you sure you’re ready? It doesn’t quite feel like it… well, okay, if you’re sure.” Meanwhile the mare is more like, “you better be ready, or get off.” Sooooooooo, I tallied the win and called it a day.
It was a fun day and I think my friend enjoyed having someone else out there to hang with as well. It was a successful first meeting and a good ride. At this point, I feel like it would definitely take me some time to get used to him. He is just so much horse. Some leases can be a bit more “plug and play” but I would need to get to know him more before I’d feel comfortable by myself. Which is okay, since she has echoed the same thing and told me to come ride with her whenever I want.
Arabianland was a dazzling place I never knew and I very much enjoyed my ride on the condensed South wind! I have some work travel coming up but I am hoping to ride Ralph again soon.