Well Hello there!
Bet you all thought I was dead! But I am (slowly) emerging from the haze of new-motherhood with an itch to get back down to business. Sadly, a move to the other side of Maryland means that my visits and interactions with CANTER horses will be few and far between (*sniff*). So I will probably be using this space to highlight really cool track listing horses that I see in the course of getting them posted to the website.
Even with the geographical difficulties, I did manage to get out to Funny Farm over the weekend to check on my horse (fat. Very, very fat) and take a look at the CANTER horses. I had anticipated a ride on the Rotund Grey Horse, but unfortunately his love of delicious grass, and airfern metabolism, means my tack doesn’t come close to fitting him. And as he is prone to theatrics (or rather, “panicked airs above the ground”) when girthed too quickly, I didn’t want to even try when it became clear that to get his girth on the first holes would take all my strength. Instead, I gave him some twizzlers (me = enabler) and threw him back out in the field, much to his relief (beast doesn’t even miss me).
So there I was, on a gorgeous day, no baby in sight, fields of green and blue sky above, dressed in the only pair of riding pants that fit and my half chaps… what’s a girl to do? Why, try out an OTTB, of course! It’s really the best, most sane idea, for a lady with shaky riding skills to begin with who has only ridden once in the last year, right? Totally.
So who do I choose? One of the really amazing 17 handers that came in recently? The stunning dark bay mare who looks like Zenyatta? The friendly, but a little bit thin gelding that just wanted hugs when I went out to the field? Nope. Not me. I went for the goofy one instead (don’t I always?).
The story on this little lady:
is that I’ve felt a certain affinity for her since she arrived. Not because I like short horses, or mares (give me a tall doofy gelding, please!), but because someone once had the audacity to call her ugly. I mean, look at her! Her hair flows like the coat of a mountain yak! Her head has the noble shape of a baby goat, and, well, under that warm coat lies a body with the sumptuous curves of Kate Moss.
Of COURSE that’s the horse I pick! I want THAT ONE!!!!! We’ll leave aside that she is somewhat short, too – maybe a titch taller than the lovely Calabria Rose herself, but not by much.
So here I am coming out of the field with the above beastie (to be fair, she is shiny now, with a shed out coat and ample, ladylike waistline), wondering a little bit what was wrong with me. Normally I anticipate that mares at the farm will be a little difficult if brought in by themselves. They get really used to being with the herd and typically are more anxious about separation than the boys. But filly was fine. She was not entirely sure what my deal was, but she was fine.
She didn’t want to stand still for brushing and tacking – mostly because she seemed eager to see everything. Surely there were interesting things everywhere, right? Once tacked up I gave her a more serious looking-over. Sure, her head is a bit lumpy, but she has a lovely, kind eye. Her conformation is actually quite good – she has a nice shoulder, broad chest for her size, nice legs, and a truly excellent (IMNSHO) rear end. Her hip and SI joint line up very nicely, and she has a good amount of topline muscle for a horse who has been out in a field most of the year. Her neck is a bit scrawny, but a little riding and mane pulling and she should look much spiffier.
I brought her over to the ring and led her around a little bit, testing to see what she thought of the word “whoa” and seeing that she gave nicely to the bit just from the ground. All systems were go, so I brought her to the mounting block (which, after trying to eat, she decided was no big deal at all). Here’s where a year of no riding really catches up with you – my mounting skills, honed over years and years of dedication to the sport, have apparently left me completely, as I managed to kick her in the butt instead of swinging my leg over. Nice.
Fortunately she didn’t care, and just stood there waiting for me to settle in. Good girl!
She proceeded to take me for a VERY nice ride. Within minutes, I had discovered she was lovely under saddle. On smaller horses, I typically feel uncomfortable due to shorter strides – I feel like I am posting too fast to keep up, or I have trouble asking the horse to go forward because it just feels too fast to me. I like a long, slower stride normally, so the smaller horses can be a challenge for me. Not this one. She may not be huge, but she rides like a big horse – she is comfortable and takes up the leg, and her stride is long and comfortable. She is not a “kick along” type of horse, but seems to have cruise control – you set it and just go along for the ride, pretty much. Never once did she rush, and even though the circles and things I asked for were probably new to her and she got unbalanced, she never leaned, popped a shoulder, or got quick. She is wonderfully flexible for a horse straight out of the field and I really didn’t feel like I was riding a fresh OTTB at al. She was easy in both directions and seems to have a certain sense for self carriage (I wasn’t trying at anything fancy, really – my riding is way too rusty right now!). I know I always get excited about them but it took me a while to wipe the smile off my face.
Of course, when you only ride once every six months, maybe it doesn’t take much to bring that smile out.
Or, I’m right, and this little girl is going to be AH-MAY-ZING.
She is smart, she is sensitive, but she is also forgiving and tolerant. She is much more athletic than I initially expected, and I think will be an absolute blast to jump eventually. My prediction? Awesomest horse ever. Mark my words.
(OK, I give up. It keeps pasting in there sideways. Just turn your head. )