August 27, 2011

The pony, a blanket App, wasn't the most sensitive horse I've ever ridden in my life, but he was certainly the most sensitive horse I've ridden since my riding world was turned upside down by my trainer.

He's a one-rider horse as opposed to the gentlemanly school horses I've been riding.  They've taught me so much, but now that R, the owner of the pony, is back at college, she put me on him to further refine my skills.

He's a cheeky pony owned by a timid girl, and he was unsurprisingly thorough about testing me in the beginning, and he was doing it so slightly that she actually got on and showed me how he could seriously work, because he felt stiff as a board to me.  After I knew what he could do and watched how she achieved it, though, it was a different story.

Whee!  My new mount, showing at Penny Oaks Horse Trials. (That's not me on him.)

We had a lesson entirely at the walk and trot, and worked on maintaining a supple, round connection.  Suddenly, on this pony, things that hadn't been obvious before on a bigger trot were apparent, and we made some huge strides in my riding.  All the way through college, if my hands had been where I saw my trainer ride with hers, I would have gotten snickers from my instructor and asked if I had crabs.  But now, now it's different.  After she was done and I got back on, I lowered my hands, relaxed my wrists as she had done, and gave a half halt on the outside rein as I asked gently for more give on the inside rein.

Bam!  He immediately became round and soft in my hands, with freer movement and more impulsion.  I've never felt a horse really get connected like that before.  So that's what they mean by "on the bit".

Uh, what?  An effective half halt?  No wonder I never really understood what a half-halt was before, despite having it explained to me so many times.  Now that I'm on a horse for whom half halts are very effective, it suddenly was clear as a bell.  I spent most of the lesson figuring out his buttons, a "getting to know you" ride as she put it.  It's so clear to me that I'm going to learn a lot from this pony, and that he really represents the next step in my quest for finer controls in my riding.  He's athletic, exciting, sensitive and a blast to ride, and I really can't wait to see what she has in store for us next week.

As a side note, there was a high school girl riding Dillon just before me, and I watched her lesson.  She clearly knew what she was doing, but she posted with her heels, with her hands, and kept losing her stirrups - problems that were so familiar to me a few short years ago.  For the first time, I felt like I'm actually getting somewhere with my riding career and not just staying stagnant.  That, plus the fact that professionals like Lisa actually want me to ride their horses for them are two unbelievable realizations for someone who's always seen herself as a perpetual beginner.


  1. Hi - I read your blog but don't comment much, so I thought I'd step up and leave a comment today because I love little appy ponies!

    Sounds like you will have fun working with that pony! He (or she?) is a really tidy jumper - that picture you posted is quite nice.

    Sounds like you have been making great strides in your riding - here's to progress! :-)

  2. Hey Laura, thanks for the comment! It's the first time I've ridden an app since I was 6, and the first time I've ridden an app pony, well, ever! I'm really enjoying riding him. Definitely making good strides on him, he's got a lot to teach me.