Had a particularly long day and zipped out to the barn late this evening for a quick ride. Horse hadn't been ridden in a week, but I whacked some tack on her and away we went, no fuss at all.
This horse has restored my faith.... she is an OTTB with little formal retraining, but she is the most uncomplicated, kindest thing I've sat on in ages. Doesn't matter what the weather is like, if she's been turned out or not, who might be in the ring, what might be going on outside of it, she just does her job. With a smile on her face.
So in the midst of all the crazy that is life, I am thankful I have a little respite in the form of a (very dirty) grey TB mare. While I've had some stops and starts over the last 7 or 8 years I think I've finally found MY horse.
Oh, and she seriously loves my daughter, so bonus points for her.
We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.
For the last nine years, I have ridden my big, bold QH gelding almost exclusively. An ex-stud (gelded at seven) he's completely full of himself. And while he babysits me, and is a fantastic horse in general, he can be challenging.
I bought a 3 year old skinny Fingerlakes mare off craigslist in January. I just recently started riding her (maybe ten rides so far) and she is just amazing. Like you said..."kind" is just the best word to describe her. She's incredibly smart and picks up on things at the drop of a hat, but unlike my gelding, she uses her powers for good. She doesn't feel the need to add her opinion/argument to everything...just "Okay!" I <3 her. I love my gelding too, and he's not going anywhere, he's just a very different ride!
We added an old-timer to the herd last summer -- a 20yo (give or take) paint(?) gelding, chestnut with high white on all 4 legs. Handsome in his own way, but nothing fancy. An old trail riding horse who, come to find out, had rolled into and out of a lesson program too.
His name was JR. The 2 DDs (8 and 10) and I decided there wasn't much "Junior" about him at his age, and rechristened him Jimmy Jr. in honor of a granddad (giggle).
I love that horse....
because HE loves the DDs. Follows them around (he has the run of the farm, he's not going anywhere). Lets them play Indian pony as they ride him around with a lead rope around his chest for steering. Is game for most anything. Want to lock him in a stall and braid his mane? Sure. Ride him in the round pen facing backwards (just to see if it's possible)? OK. Head off down the hill to the pond? Sure, why not. And when he's ready for a break, off he trots to the barn, with whoever on his back yelling and fussing and me cracking up.
Tack him up and work him in the ring and he's perfectly pleasant and light on the aids.
Ride him once or 30 times in a month, it makes no difference. He's shiny and happy and I think all the time what a cool old guy he is.
"And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!"
Gotta say I love TB mares, too! My two have been smart, sensible, relatively uncomplicated and have looked after me to the hilt.
While my TB gelding is also smart and sensible and looks after me, he also enjoys a good argument, is on the lazy side, and is demanding about what he wants from his rider. Riding him is mental work.
My mare, on the other hand, who is the same age as the gelding and has much less training, will go three quarters of the way for you most days and has a terrific attitude and work ethic. When I first started riding her, I told my coach that riding her was like going on a vacation.
Thank God for good horses!
friend of bar.ka
Andy, OTTB mare, 1984-2011. I miss you already, girl!
My 16 yo niece is in her first year of horse 4H. Helped her and her parents look for a horse to lease. The first horse we tried was a sorrel QH mare owned by a 19 yo kid who just wanted someone to ride her. We went to look and her saddle didn't fit, the kid had her bit in the bridle backwards, and he rode with his feet in the stirrups turned 180. Oh, and she wasn't all that pretty. But, I got on her, she listened to my leg, was solid and steady, and didn't argue. We looked at a few other horses and came back to her - she just seemed the solidest of the bunch.
She came to the barn Sunday (another long story!) and we tried the first ride yesterday. Loaner saddle, my Arab's dressage bridle, and my niece who is a rank beginner. Blacksmith at barn, horses going in and out, my nephews and other niece running around (respectfully I must add!), mirrors in the arena, and what did she do? Her job. It's that simple. She listened to my niece's mixed messages and tried her best to do what she thought needed to be done. She stood in the crossties, picked up her feet pretty nicely, loves to be brushed, etc etc etc. My niece is in heaven.
We may not let her go back at the end of the lease!
I will chime in here becuse yesterday I was thinking about how much I love my Jackson. Since the day they pulled him out of his stall at Evangeline and I looked at his face I have known he was special. He has given me a lot to think about in that he came with some mental baggage, but there has only been one other horse in my life who has the kindness of this one. He is always willing to try to please me. He is bombproof, confident and I completely trust him to take care of me in any situation. On top of that he is lovely to look at and a fabulous mover. Things could have gone so wrong for him had the stars not lined up the way they did. Our partnership was meant to be. He is exactly what this 53 yr old woman needs!
And sometimes you have to wait years for the horse to "get good".
My horse is 9 years old. I've had him since he was a neon green 2 year old. There have been times when I questioned my own sanity as I swung a leg over him. He has, on at least one occassion, dumped me so hard I saw stars and birdies. More than once he has attempted to do so within 20 feet of the mounting block.
I didn't get a chance to ride him at all last week so he was very fresh coming out of the barn. My mother called after me as he was squirming up the driveway "all he's done all day is eat, not run"... oh goody.
But, he jogged and loped along on a loose rein. LOPED. Like a Quarter Horse (he's a Saddlebred) On a loose rein. With one hand. I'm still incredulous. Gazed casually at the neighbor splitting wood in the underbrush. Marveled at the Orioles in the Ash tree with me. Stood in the driveway afterwards, chatting with Mom, and rested a hip.