Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Horses Who Made Me: A Medley

This week I'm going to touch briefly on several different horses who stand out in my past. These are horses who came along after Yogi and before the horse I'll cover in next week's post.

I was so fortunate after my time at Teri's that I had so many contacts with horse folks in the area. Everyone had horses that needed to be ridden, but no one had time to do it! I bopped hither and thither on many different horses through the years. A ride at a time, I developed myself before really settling to help train and develop any one horse.

When you're presented with so many mounts, you learn quickly that they're not all the same. You learn what you like, what you don't like, and what you'd like to learn more about. I rode all different breeds, all different sizes, all different disciplines of horses.

I took away many lessons from each of the horses I rode; the biggest lesson of all? Adaptability. I had to learn to adapt to ride whatever I was presented with.

And thus, without further ado, the myriad of lessons I learned from a medley of different horses.

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The photo of Misty and I is a wonderful definition of my short time riding this horse. I rode her toward the tail-end of my time at Teri's. A spicy little Appaloosa mare, she really had get up and go.

Her turning radius was impressive; her zero to sixty take-off was outrageous. I thought I loved speed, but this little lady really gave me appreciation for speed and agility. She was a firecracker. So very much like Q is, but without the spookiness.

I'll never forget the fun show I spent riding Misty - taking off from a standstill to a gallop in no time at all to do the clover and straight barrels. That final run at the end of both courses to the gate was epic. I never knew if we'd stop, but we always did. Such a fun little lady horse.

Luke and his owner
Luke was a little Arabian gelding that one of my best friend's owned. I spent a lot of time around him through my middle school days. He was quite tolerant of our early teenage pursuits.

Of all the ridiculous things I did while riding Luke, the lesson he taught me above all others was to not put your trust in a "sure" thing.

While tolerant on the trail, Luke wasn't *perfect*. I can remember hanging out at the barn for a party one evening with my cohorts from school and feeling the need to ride. I really couldn't be around horses and *not* ride. I loved it so much. And, let's be honest, I kind of wanted to show off to my friends a little!

So there I was, riding Luke around part of the field bareback having a jolly good time, when suddenly Luke decided it was enough. He ejected me like no horse had ever ejected me to that point. I sailed over his head and hit the ground in a roll to protect myself from further injury.

Luke stopped once I hit the ground. The look he gave me said simply enough, "We are done. No more."

I remounted for the sake of getting back on the horse after a fall, rode him to the fence, slipped off, removed the bridle, and went on about my evening.

Apache and her owner a couple summers ago
Apache was my other best friend's horse. An opinionated POA mare with a lot of get-up-and-go onthe trail.

Apache was the first horse - really the first mare - who taught me that horses really do *think* and *consider* things on the trail. She was so looky about everything. If you talked her through it and let her study things for a moment, she'd be fine though. You could almost hear the cogs and gears whirring as she worked through "friend or foe", "threat or non-threat" in her head.

I hated this aspect of her personality for the longest time, but once I realized it for what it was, I really loved it. She was so intelligent; things were only an "issue" to her for one or two times before she'd categorized them away into "non-issue". Her owner recognized this about her from the get-go - the reason they got along and still get along so well! I know other mutual friends of ours who still cannot stand this behavior though. They refuse to ride Apache because of it. Me? Well, I've now got a mare with opinions of her own, I think I've partly got Apache to thank for that!

Sip, short for Sipapu, was an Appaloosa gelding who boarded where Luke and Apache were for
several months while his owner was in Alaska.

Sip was my personal mount for nearly the whole time he was there. My two friends could ride their own horses - Luke and Apache - and I rode Sip.

Sip was the first horse I had a spark with. I got along with and communicated with him on an entirely other level. I could merely *think* about what I wanted to do as far as navigation down the trail and he would respond. Trot. He'd trot. Canter. He'd canter. A little to the left. He'd avoid the branch that was otherwise going to be an obstacle for my face.

The connection I had with Sip was magical. And too short. His owner moved him home after he returned from Alaska. Sadly, Sip died that winter from poisoning from eating too many dried maple leaves. =(

Brandy was one of the first horses I began riding when I started mucking/managing a boarding barn closer to my home. She was the BO's pride and joy. She'd had her since birth.

Brandy was in her 20s when I met her. You'd never have guessed it though! I've yet to meet a horse with pep in her step like this mare had. She LOVED to run. Sonya used to run barrels on Brandy.

Brandy - and Sonya - allowed me to enjoy the thrill of barrels once. It was part thrill part terror.

Barrels on Brandy

This little Welsh section B gelding competed nationally at some big jumping competition apparently. He's supposedly very well bred, as well.

His leasor at the time had asked me to ride him some to reset him for her kids. I was long of leg, but
slight of frame; my weight was near the limit for him, but not too much.

Riding Ferdie
I rode him around their property a day or two, gave her kids some lessons, and that was that. I didn't think I'd see him again.

Later in the summer at one of the 4-H shows I stumbled upon another opportunity to ride him. The 4-H show had a class in the afternoon where parents or mentors would ride their kids horses. It was a blast for everyone involved. The leasor asked me if I'd ride Ferdie. I happily agreed.

Everyone got a hoot out of me riding this little pony. They laughed and laughed and said I looked like a frog sittin' on a lily pad with my long legs. He was such a blast though!

Afterward, his leasor asked if I'd take him into the back field and let him gallop. She said she felt he really missed it since he'd been dealing with kids for so many months. Gallop? In a field? Uh, DUH. YES!

Ha. Haha. Never underestimate the small ones. Nope. Never. Ferdie took off at a gallop, completely thrilled with himself. And what do horses and ponies do when they're completely thrilled with themselves at high speed?


Oh, did he buck!

I distinctly remember flying off around buck number 7. What a little snot!

So much fun though. So much fun. Wouldn't change it for the world. Gave me a lot more respect for ponies, too!

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