Fall is officially almost here, as the uOttawa Equestrian Team has arrived back at our farm to begin their 2015-16 season! They are short on lesson horses right now so Schmoodle was pulled into service yesterday. The team captain is a lovely rider and they had a good lesson together. I’ll admit I was flattered when I came into the barn where Schmoodle was chilling post-lesson and he immediately perked up and looked for a cuddle. Aww, he does love me. (I am an anthropomorphic sap, yes.) Poor Schmoodle, he isn’t getting much face time on the blog this week.
Our last ride, on the weekend, was really good despite the conditions being windy, rainy and spooky. He was as rideable as could be expected and gave me a really good feel – no more mouth of iron. I took a new tack and decided to halt and chill out for a few minutes when I first got on in order to let him wrap his brain around the spooky stuff in the ring, then concentrated on really sending him forward, ignoring any body contortions, and using lots of small figures and changes of direction to get the bend though his ribcage – no lateral work at all except spiral in and out and canter, in which I also incorporated last lesson’s counter flexions. I just kind of ignored any tension in his topline as long as he went forward. Lo and behold, I got a lovely round horse, still on edge, but working with me instead of against me.
Anyways, since Schmoodle was pulling double duty yesterday, Trainer M asked me to ride Classy, the barn’s oldest and grumpiest going Grand Prix horse. Classy must be about 20 now but still jumps around the 1m40s and small GPs, albeit with some protests. He was a breeding stallion for many years and maintains many vestiges of his studdish personality, including a huuuge cresty neck. He has a wild eye and breathes louder than any horse I know. Before I got on, M, who currently does him in the big classes at the horse shows, said, “He is terrible off the right leg and will probably be a huge asshole. After about half an hour he’s really fun, though!”
Basically, it was like sitting on a cross between a rocking horse and a dragon. Once I got the hang of him and realized the snorting and crow-hopping were more bark than bite, he was indeed extremely fun to ride, although he couldn’t be more different from Schmoodle. He’s super well-schooled on the flat (…when he decides to cooperate), and once I figured out what to do with all that horse under me and realized he really wasn’t going to just charge away when I put my leg on, he gave the most amazing feeling – his canter is like butter. We did some lovely lateral work and lead changes, and then called it a day. When I gave him his apple snack before putting him away, his whole demeanor changed and suddenly he was a droopy-lipped, kind-eyed old man. Poor old Classy. I don’t think he gets a lot of cuddles, probably because he always looks so threatening, so I tried to make a fuss out of him. He’s a pretty special guy, who’s done national standard Grand Prixs, taken his previous rider (who is actually also Schmoodle’s owner) to Young Riders and her first World Cup qualifier a couple of years ago, and jumped around the high A/Os on the West Coast as a pinch-hitter for a client whose own horses were injured last summer. Suffice it to say he’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
The Internet was on the fritz when I got home, so we amused ourselves by staring adoringly at the new kitty. He is perfect. I have become an obsessive cat lady basically overnight. Google has started suggesting cat-related searches for me. SEND HELP.
Anyone else get a kick out of riding a different horse, especially one you’ve known for a long time?