Showing Me What She Knows

Posted by Sharon Labels: ,

With warmer weather finally taking the ice and snow off of my outdoor arena this past week, I couldn’t wait to ride. Only a small circle was dry enough to ride on but I caught up my two young mares, Mistral and Sapphire. After a short lunge (I hate lunging!), I stepped up on first Mistral, then Sapphire, and suppled and circled for a few minutes. Both mares, although out of shape, immediately settled into the training program.

It’s always rewarding to pick up a horse after months layoff and find out she still remembers everything but I expect that. I’ve seen it too many times not to expect that. It never fails to amaze me, however, when a horse that has been off for years wants to work for me! That’s what happened next.

Prima (Peppy Del Cielo) is 13 years old. She is a well-trained but not finished, reiner. Due to a slight unsoundness in early training, I quit riding her and bred her in 2004. The last time she was ridden (except for hopping on and off bareback in 2007) was 2003. She is not in foal now so, after working Mistral and Sapphire, I caught Prima up for a ride.

I remembered Prima was always ‘cinchy’ so I didn’t saddle her. Instead, I lunged her for about five minutes, walked her over to an upside-down tub I could mount bareback from and slipped on her broad back. As my weight settled into her, she rocked forward and back, a bit uncomfortable but not unsettled at all. Then, in response to my soft leg bump, she walked forward. With only a halter and lead rope on the left side of her neck we walked out into the arena, stopped, walked, turned. I believe she actually loved showing me what she knows. Even at a walk I felt the smoothness of this mare, the ease with which she had performed complicated maneuvers, like spins. I’m sure she would have spun that day if I had asked her to.

That short ride on Prima made my day, made my week actually. Every day for the next few days, I did the same until yesterday, when we jogged several circles– still bareback with a halter. Prima actually initiated the jog and was happy to pack me around – and she is so smooth! And so broke...

I would like to ride her bareback for several more rides but I’m wondering if I, not Prima, can handle it. Once off of a walk, the leg muscles are telling me how out of shape I am. Maybe we can get in shape together…

Kind of makes me wonder, though why horses remember forever and I don’t. Last winter I took up crocheting after many years away from it and I couldn’t remember how - nothing,  not even a basic stitich! It’s not like it was a fleeting hobby – I crocheted, knitted and embroidered for years! I can hardly call a horse’s intelligence inferior to mine, can I? Of course I already knew it wasn't so.