Saturday, March 19, 2011


Tonight, as I sat in my truck, the smell of horse filling my nostrils, I felt a bone deep feeling of joy. I think I had deluded myself into believing I was happy not riding. Obviously not the case. There is something so peaceful and soothing for me about the smell of barn. I love my dogs. I love working with them. But I don't get the same feeling I get, as how I feel after riding.

I had crawled out of bed at the break of dawn. Literally. Completed my chores, and went and saddle Roxy. Yes, I said saddled Roxy. I knew I'd have to adjust my tack to make it fit her and felt it would be easier to accomplish here at home. We were loading up and going to Willingdon for a Clint Swales clinic. I was equal part exhaustion (I had just put in a long, long week.) and nerves. This would be my first ride on this horse. Doing it in a clinic environment - crazy? Perhaps, a bit...

Based on what Jason had told me I had a rough idea of what to expect. He's had no qualms telling me she's hot. I knew she'd be soft and responsive. I knew she was mini. When I arrived, I tied her up and let her stand. When I went to get on her she was okay. A little bug eyed, but a few circles helped and off we went. She felt pretty good - other than the fact I was having difficulty with her power steering. She's smooth. I could sit her long trot without too much effort.

When it was our turn to work the flag she was pretty excited. Her body tensed right up. That little Roxy has some moves. Her stop wasn't excellent. So that's what Clint had us work on. Walk, halt, back and turn through the back. After my turn was up, he sent us to the other side of the arena to work on this. And that's where things fell apart. She resisted a bit. And I whomped her with my leg. She leaped through the air going into a bucking kind of mode. It's a good thing she's little and soft because it was easy to ride. I circled her out of it. Got her settled did a couple more and quit. (Went and watched.)

In the afternoon, she wasn't a happy camper. She was wound when I went to get on her. When I threw my leg over, she skittered around. lifting my inside rein I got her settled, picked up my stirrup and began to long trot. Her back was tight. Horses were zipping and zooming, stopping and spinning. This was all a bit too much. So as she moved into the lope she drove through her shoulder, moving into a bit of a bolt/spook. When I picked up my inside rein she lost her brain. We spun a few pivot circles before stopping. Getting her settled, I moved out of the line of traffic. I wanted to get her to stand. To relax with the chaos that is a warm up around her.

As I'm standing there, a lady and her horse pull up and stop. Right. Behind. Her. Seriously, I coulda patted her horse's nose from where I was sitting. So I turn as say, hey you might want to back your horse a couple steps. All very nicely. Common sense, yes? Really, who stops and parks their horse directly behind a strange horse? Odd that. And she looses it. She was NOT NICE! I took the high road and left it. Ignored her really. It just blows me away. I think it's a classic example of you may be able to buy an expensive, fancy pants horse, but you can't buy horsemanship and common sense.

All in all, even with Roxy's brain farts I'm pretty happy. I certainly didn't expect to take a 3 year old, irregardless of the amount of training on her, out to a strange environment and have her act like an angel. The morning was pretty darn good. I've been around enough animals to know how they act at home is often not how they act away. Plus she's ridiculously soft to ride! And I can add one enriching experience onto her roster.

And, I'd recommend Clint Swales. He was a very, very good instructor.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I loved this post, especially the first paragraph....bone chilling!!! Glad to share the day with you and finally meet you in person! :)