Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

Two And Not Counting

Just about two weeks ago my pinto Oldenburg turned 2, and I celebrated the occasion by taking a day off from the office to spend some quality time with him. He currently lives about an hour from my home, so I don’t see him as often as I’d like. Nevertheless, with each visit I’m continually impressed by how quickly he changes in such a short amount of time.
   

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Just about two weeks ago my pinto Oldenburg turned 2, and I celebrated the occasion by taking a day off from the office to spend some quality time with him. He currently lives about an hour from my home, so I don’t see him as often as I’d like. Nevertheless, with each visit I’m continually impressed by how quickly he changes in such a short amount of time.
   
Before I purchased Teddy last fall it had been nearly 20 years since I’d worked with such a young horse. When I bought him he was already well started, though, with solid groundwork and time on the longe line learning initial commands.

I was actually so impressed with his trainer—Larry Jones, well known in the Arabian sport horse world—that I asked if Teddy could remain there in training. Thankfully, Larry agreed to continue working with him, and I’ve rediscovered how rewarding it is to be a part of this stage.
   
One of Larry’s many talents is his exquisite touch with long lines, and early in the winter I stood by the round pen for hours watching him literally teach Teddy the ropes. It was magical. Within just a few months Teddy was comfortable with the long lines touching him anywhere on his body, wearing a bridle, surcingle and side reins and carrying himself in balance at the walk and trot.
   
Of course, there were those days that Teddy tested the human-horse relationship and questioned new requests. But after intently studying him for a while I could tell the difference between antics and anxiety and obviously so could Larry. Teddy made great strides in each training session.
   
Teddy’s gaits, which had impressed me the first time I saw him, have only improved further. He’s floating across the ground and stepping well underneath himself with consistency, and the increased work has greatly improved his topline and musculature.
   
After a few months Larry offered me the opportunity to take a turn. I’d had some experience holding the lines behind a made driving horse, but this was quite different. Teddy relied on my guidance and confidence more than I realized.
   
I began slowly, working at the walk and getting the feel of where I needed to place my body in respect to his to find that “sweet spot.” It was harder than I remembered but incredibly rewarding when we jelled. The best feeling was when I was in the correct position, with a light but constant contact on the lines, and Teddy’s trot was rhythmical and powerful but he was still soft in my hands.
   
It’s remarkable how similar this sensation is to actually being on the horse. If I closed my eyes (briefly!) I could almost imagine what this trot would feel like in the saddle, with that wonderful moment when the horse’s back comes up and effortlessly lifts you into each stride.
   
When I purchased Teddy I wasn’t looking to buy a yearling. I’d wanted a green horse that I could ride and show in the short term. Now I’m truly glad that I’ve taken this extra time to rediscover the formative years. While I look forward to that day when I can throw a leg over his back, right now I’m content to be on the ground and establishing a long-term trusting relationship that will hopefully continue for years to come.

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Tricia Booker, Editor

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