I am so excited about today's lesson, I could not wait until tomorrow to share it! I am sorry - I do not have any pictures to share..so you will have to use your imagination.
Today I rode 4 different horses. I stared out riding Sport, my young Saddlebred in training to be a 5-gaited show horse. Still learning, and that statement goes for both of us.. we worked on EVERY gait! Sport is young and inexperienced and tends to see "equus-eatus monsters" at every bend. He can shimmy when he gets nervous. Me - I don't shimmy as well as I once did! Sandy, the head trainer makes it look way too easy.
Next, I got to ride a lesson horse astride aptly named Hershey for his rich chocolate color. I need to start working on my astride riding skills as I have been riding aside so long..it is there that I now feel more comfortable. Hershey is a good and patient teacher. Sandy had me trot and canter standing in the saddle. It is a good thing I have tomorrow off. I may not be able to get out of bed!!
Next in line was Oliver. I have to lunge Oliver before I ride him. He forgets he is 16...and today he thought he was 3! The first thing he did when he reached the rail of the bull pen was to buck and canter simultaneously. Thankfully he is gentleman enough to leave such behavior behind when I get on him!!
Today Oliver was exceptionally spy though. All the "equus-eatus" creatures were still there when we rode aside. One scared him so that he stopped on a dime and spun about 365 degrees! I take pride in saying that I not only stayed on but stayed erect. No one was more surprised by it all more than me! I actually enjoy riding Oliver when he is in this frame of mind. His slow trots are more animated. He head set is more up right. BUT - the sacrifice I get from all of this energy is an almost non-existent flat walk.
4th..yes, today I had the pleasure of riding 4 horses!!! The most advanced lesson horse at the farm is a stunning and HUGE - 17HH - Saddlebred with the barn name of Jose. Jose is the horse I honored to be asked to try out as a sidesaddle horse. We saddled him in his stall as he stood in cross ties so we could see his reaction to this new and heavier saddle. He paid it no mind.
From this point on, Sandy did not leave my side.
We walked Jose out of the stall and down the isle to the 3 step mounting block..which was almost not tall enough for this tall drink of a horse! I gathered the reins in my left hand as I placed my foot into the stirrup. Sandy was at Jose's head and a groom was at the offside putting counter weight on the saddle. I mounted as if I was stepping into an astride saddle and I sat still for a few minutes while I stroked Jose's neck. I very carefully moved my right leg over his neck. I don't know why, but I was shocked at how easy it was. Jose acted as though he had been doing this for years. We tightened the girth one more time and walked out into the arena. Sandy walked beside me. Jose held his head extremely high and I feared he would have a case of Spring fever..as the other horses had.
We started to walk around the large covered arena. After getting 3/4 the way around Sandy told me to slow trot Jose. I did. It was so slow, I would liken it to a Western Pleasure jog. Going a bit further down the rail, I asked him for more. He gladly gave it. I noticed it was so much easier to ride Jose aside, but somehow more difficult to post the trot. Anyone have any ideas how this could be true??
After making 2 rounds about the huge arena..and by the way, Sandy was no longer running beside me, I asked Jose to step it up even more and he politely did...grin After a shot walk, I asked for a canter. Jose has one of those dreamy Country Pleasure canters that is so easy to ride. I could feel all 3 bumps of each stride it in the saddle, but it was very comfortable.
I was all smiles..that got even bigger when Sandy asked me to show him aside at a show later this year...YIPPEE!!