I got to ride Goldie again for Lesson #81. This is good, because I prefer Goldie as a riding partner to all of Karin’s other horses.
Karin shakes her head at the preference. Not because Goldie isn’t a good horse – she’s a great horse – but she doesn’t “move out” like some of Karin’s other horses. I’m not sure if that’s the proper use of the term, but it seems close enough to describe it.
It’s cold, but it’s nice out, so we opt for a little Instruction in Open Terrain. Karin says we have to careful with the footing, but we should be okay.
As we proceed, Karin half turns in the saddle and offers a kind of narrative instruction as things occur. A lot of my lessons are like this.
As expected, Karin and Charley get a little ahead of us. Not only is Goldie’s pace slower, our progress is hampered by all my photo taking. Since I don’t have my own photographer to follow me around – which is probably for the best – I have to take a lot of pictures while mounted.
So, for a good portion of my lesson, I only have one hand – and half my attention – for the reins. I know this has to annoying for the horse, but Goldie seems to tolerate it okay.
Karin and Charley turn and wait for us to catch up. Goldie stops and I snap a picture.
Karin laughs, “You should be able to get some good photos while you’re on Goldie.”
“Yes, because I don’t bounce around so much on her.” And then it hits me:
I prefer Goldie because she’s a great platform for taking photos.
And all this time, I thought we were bonding.
It’s a bit of a challenge, riding one-handed. So I really do appreciate a horse that, while perhaps not understanding my erratic riding style, at least puts up with it.
As we mosey down the trail, I recall that it was Liz that first introduced me to neck reining. And if I’m going to continue to take photos up here, maybe I should ask Karin to help me learn neck reining better.
Meanwhile, I practice riding one handed. I raise my right hand, imitating General Stonewall Jackson, who used to ride this way because, “It balanced the blood flow.” He was known to walk around like that as well.
Suddenly, the platform beneath me becomes unstable. Goldie is compensating for some poor footing. We break through the thin sheet of ice covering a puddle in the trail.
“You have to walk around those, Bob!”
Indeed. Goldie actually broke into a canter to get out of it.
Karin uses the little incident as a teaching moment.
“She’ll get into her upper gears very quickly. You have to be prepared for that.”
We then have a brief conversation on what to do in the event that I find myself on a horse that breaks into an unplanned gallop. Essentially, there are three steps.
Step One: hang on
Step Two: get over the shock
Step Three: enjoy it, the gallop is actually a smooth gait
I put the camera away and focus on staying out of the puddles. Step Zero is prevention.