For Lesson #22 Karin had me ride Krystal, her Percheron Thoroughbred mare. Krystal was an insolent adolescent type before she came to Karin. She was pushy, disrespectful and couldn’t along with members of her own species. Karin provided Krystal with a stable routine and the right kind of attention and turned her into “A well trained dressage horse with nice gaits.” At least that’s what the brochure says.
Krystal is good horse, no doubt. I’ve talked to a couple of other riders at the barn who say she is their favorite. Rider reviews carry a lot of weight with me.
For me, Krystal is like one of your kids or an employee or a student – or anyone you’re supposed to be supervising – who knows the game better than you do. They know how to follow instructions in the most literal sense, but won’t give you an inch more. They know exactly what they can get away with not doing.
Before mounting, I walked Krystal around the arena in an attempt to establish the proper relationship. No problem.
Then I got on and made a few trips around the arena at the walk. No problem.
Karin asked me if I would like to trot. Now, if I was one those passive resistive types noted above, I would have taken this question in its most literal sense and would’ve engaged my instructor in a five-minute philosophical discussion concerning how I view The Trot as opposed to other gaits.
But I pay for these lessons and thus I take a more business-like approach to this kind of direction. I responded by cueing Krystal to trot:
And she did.
For just a moment. I forgot to mention how long I wanted her to trot.
Karin told me to try to keep my legs on the horse to keep her going.
And she did.
For just a moment. I guess my legs weren’t clear enough.
Then Karin said something – some sort of instruction, I think. But I didn’t hear what she was trying to say.
So, I said, “What?”
And Krystal began to trot.
Oh. I see. Of course. “What” rhymes with “trot.”
Okay fine. Let’s try this again.
And before I could say “trot”, Krystal started trotting.
It got to where all I had to do was to say something out loud – anything – and Krystal started trotting. But always for just a few seconds. Her favorite ploy was to head directly to the corner of the arena and just stop. I mean, it wasn’t her job to figure out a solution to the Corner Puzzle.
In retrospect, I should have just kept talking to keep the horse moving. But, really, I was laughing too much. Ever since the What/Trot thing, I had lost my business approach to the lesson.
It was a completely unproductive lesson in terms of proper riding form. But it was still a lot of fun. And next time, Krystal and I are going to have a very different sort of lesson together.
“Figuring someone out” can go both ways.