Expanding the Herd

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been away from the barn for a combination of reasons that are not typically shared on a blog or anywhere on the Internet. Well, maybe on Facebook.

Karin was also a bit out of commission during this period. It was a dangerous time. Karin causes a lot more trouble when you try to keep her inside then when she’s allowed to go out. Specifically, she browses the Internet for horses. You know, “just looking”…

This time, she only bought four.

In Karin’s defense, I should mention that Legacy Stables is growing pretty fast and this wasn’t exactly a case of impulse buying. Once the good weather comes back, it’s going to get real busy around there. Some of Karin’s horses are aging and they probably wouldn’t mind sharing the workload with some new employees. One of the first things people notice when they visit Legacy is how happy the horses are. Karin intends on keeping it that way.

 Karin is very clear about what she looks for when buying a horse for Legacy Stables. In order of priority, they are:

  1. Temperament
  2. Temperament
  3. Temperament
  4. Health
  5. Gaits
  6. Training
  7. Price

Ten years ago, when Karin bought her first horse, Charley, a friend warned her, “Be careful Karin, they don’t come alone!” At the time, Karin laughed at that.

Legacy is up to 23 horses now. Eighteen of them are hers. It’s an accurate tally: “I went out yesterday and counted them myself,” Karin reports.

And, without further ado, here are the new additions to Legacy Stables’ expanding herd:

MIA

962713_1Mia is a 3 year-old Haflinger, 13 hands. She’s trained in the walk, trot and canter. She will be employed for birthday parties, therapeutic riding and adaptive vaulting.

APACHE

Apache

Apache

Apache is a 14 hand, 9 year-old, stocky Pinto Pony. Karin says he’s perfect for adaptive vaulting, therapeutic riding and for her Tiny Tots vaulting program.

LI’L MISS SUNSHINE

Sunshine dining at her new home.

Sunshine dines at her new home.

Sunshine is a 10 hand, 3 year-old Shetland. Karin intends on using her as a backup for Snoopy, a current worker who definitely wouldn’t mind a little help with all those kids.

 DaVINCI

DaVinci

DaVinci

DaVinci is a 13 year-old, 17 hand Hanoverian. Karin reports that he has “a really nice gait.” She intends on using him for Dressage and vaulting.

Maybe it’s time for me to learn a little Dressage? Maybe just a little…

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Rhymes with Trot

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 and Karin discuss the up coming lesson with Bob

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:

“Krystal…. 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.

“Krystal… trot.

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.

“Krystal…”

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.

Krystal gets to finish her breakfast. It's only fair.

Jamie Gives a Lesson

As I scaled the heights of Mt. Samson (we used the mounting block), I had Hiliary’s recent riding videos of me very much in mind. If nothing else, I was going to keep those heels down. Or try to.

I hope she was telling me to put those heels down...

Jamie was there to help. And help turned into a lesson. Which is good, because I need all the lessons I can get.

We tried this once, a long, long time ago. I recall being on one of Jamie’s horses and having everything from Xenophon to George H. Morris presented to me in less than two minutes.  I felt like an old Star Trek computer that short-circuited and threw sparks and made smoke because it was receiving data too fast from some super-speedy alien computer. I dismounted with a headache.

The instruction begins.

Jamie has come a long way as an instructor.  The average male brain is capable of processing only one instruction at a time – at the very most – and this has to be repeated multiple times.  Language can be such an annoyance to us and it takes a moment or two before we realize that the irritating noise that is buzzing around in our ear is actually a form of communication intended – sometimes – to help us. I think she picked up on this over the years.

My main problem on Samson was that I kept bringing the right rein across the top of his neck to turn him to the inside.  Jamie told me to stop it.  “He’s a dressage horse, Dad.”  I was instructed to use my outside leg to cue him.

So, I dutifully used my right leg to cue him for the turn.

And then, on the next turn, I brought the right rein across his neck.

Jamie told me to stop it.  And I did.

Then on the next turn, I brought the right rein across his neck. Again.

Jamie told me to stop it. And I did. Again.

Then on the next turn, I brought the right rein across his neck.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Finally, I glanced down to make sure it was my right hand that was actually doing this and that my arm was still connected to my body. It was maddening.  The Errant Hand and his accomplice, The Arm were doing what they wanted and were ignoring what my brain was trying to tell them. They just weren’t list…en…

…ning…

Ah… so that’s what’s it like.

Apparently The Errant Hand was putting up some form of last-ditch resistance.  A bitter-ender representing the final vestiges of male incorrigibility.  The Hand was listening to my ego and not my brain.

I think I was enjoying that 19 hands of elevation just a little too much.

I thought Jamie might jump up there, grab a leg and drag me off Samson, but she was very patient.  She calmly repeated the instruction as if each time was the first time. And the few instances when I managed not to bring my right hand across the horse’s neck was cause for celebration:

“Good job, Dad.”

“Now you’re getting it!”

“Way to use your leg!”

It was a good lesson.