Saturday, January 3, 2009

Funder, the polo star

... or something!

So I'd promised K that if she brought Poppy's saddle today, I'd ride him for her. He was a good boy, of course. He tried to slither sideways toward trees a few times, but I stopped him. The earlier you notice he's up to something, the easier it is to dissuade him, but that's true for any horse.

Anyway, I did some very basic work: turn, stop, walk, trot. I got everything I wanted - no major hissyfits, fairly prompt speed changes - and got off. K loves him and takes good care of him... but he's actually getting worked LESS by her than he was by me. I offered to ride him for her when I have time, and I will. I feel kinda bad that he's not working toward any potential.

After I set Poppy free, I got to talking to a friend of mine who was visiting us. A few minutes later, K led Promise up and said "So you gonna ride her?"

I have a problem with ever saying no to anything that's remotely like a challenge. Ride a 23 year old ex polo pony who hasn't had a rider for several years? Well, hell, Poppy didn't kill me so she couldn't possibly!

K got Promise for free a couple months ago. Promise's former owner was behind in board and surrendered her to the barn owner, who gave her to K. (I assume there's a contract involved; I don't know the details.) Anyway, Promise was really thin when K got her, but K has been religiously graining her twice a day and the old mare is coming back really nicely! K and her friend B have been longeing her lightly to help build her muscles back up, and the old bat thinks she's the queen of the field these days.

So Kelly led up a skinny (but fatter!) lop eared old Thoroughbred and asked if I was going to ride her. Of course I couldn't say no! I jammed my foot in a stirrup (bad sign), swung up, collected my reins, noticed she was in Goblin's goofy rope halter/hackamore (BAD! SIGN!), and she was off. She perked up both of her ears as high as she could and pranced away, just pleased as pie that a human was finally back on her back! She picked up a soft slow trot and I realized that my steering was really "mushy." Sat back and asked for a halt and she completely ignored me (more likely, didn't understand me.)

Stupid Funder, she's never been ridden in a stupid little rope halter fffffffff

I calmly trotted a big circle back toward the merrily chatting group of people and asked for someone to please grab her. They were all "Whaaaaat?" I very calmly repeated myself and explained that she HAD NO BRAKES, and somebody grabbed her halter as we walked past, and WHEW.

But of course that wasn't much of a ride, and Promise's eyes were sparkling, and I happened to have a bunch of snaffle bits in my truck... so I bitted her up (5" single jointed copper snaffle) and we took off again. As soon as I stuck my foot in the stirrup I remembered that thing that had been bugging me before I realized she had no steering and no brakes - my feet were stuck. I was riding in T's saddle, which has those stupid narrow Western stirrups, and I was wearing my muck boots, and my feet were stuck.

Oh well! Promise was just overjoyed that I was riding her again. I am not exaggerating, and I'm not mistaking exhausted or terrified for overjoyed. That mare was happy to have a rider. She didn't want to buck, and she didn't (quite) want to canter off with me, but she really wanted to trot super gracefully around and impress me. And she DID impress me!

The bit made all the difference in the world. The lightest contact would steer her, just like it ought to, and she listened when I asked her to stop. We did a couple laps around the front part of the field and I asked her to stop and she did, just a little reluctantly. I really enjoyed her (although feeling like my feet are stuck makes me pretty panicky) and I'm definitely going to ride her again - but I don't want to overdo it!

And just to note it, I took Dixie on a nice trail ride ALONE yesterday. She did fine; I'm planning on taking her again tomorrow and I'll have more to say about her then!


  1. Sounds like a successful day. I have never ridden a polo pony but I have always thought that it would be fun. I love it when those "this could go very wrong" experiences work out right.

    terses: segments of grumpy poems

  2. Oh man...I just wrote in my last blog about how when Thumby is pointed in the general direction of the polo field she perks WAY up and gets REAL strong LOL. Even for a big girl like her, she gets SO excited over polo.

  3. Yeah, it was SO much fun! I haven't been on a horse who was so honestly happy to have a rider in a long time. :3 Dixie is glad to see me but still spooky, Champ is the laziest beast in the world, and most other horses are just like "oh, a human on my back. meh."

    I wanted to ride her again today, but I decided to work Dixie first and it was cold and rainy when we were done. Honestly, I'd rather wait for a clear day so Promise can trot or maybe canter without me worrying about her slipping.


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