April 17, 2012

Hoosier Horse Fair, Part II

When Lisa asked me to ride Dundee, Connor's imported sire, in the horse fair a couple of months ago, I responded 'yes' without any hesitation.  After having the chance to ride so many of his get, I knew I would find it interesting to ride him and compare. 

He hadn't been ridden in a year when I hopped on him on Monday, with some very interested mares on the other side of the arena fence, and he was perfect.  Our Friday ride at the HHF was quiet, with the small crowd and my lack of whip, and our Sunday ride was animated, but somewhat tired, but Saturday...Saturday was unforgettable.

We were riding just as a big storm was passing through, he knew I had the whip, the crowd was massive, and the atmosphere was electric.  There's something about performing with a horse instead of showing; I've always been a performer, in theater, in musical theater, in solo voice, in choir, in band, and of course in sports, but I never before considered just how much fun it might be to ride into a ring on horseback and perform for someone's entertainment instead of being judged.  It was me and my horse, and boy was he into it. 

All photos are from the Friday show, when he was less animated and more of a leg ride.

Most of what I did was changes of direction around the diagonal, serpentines, 20m (-ish) circles (that ring was in no way designed to be a Dressage ring), and stuff like that.  I had wanted to keep the cantering to a minimum, since he's a retiree, but he kept offering it on Saturday, so I cantered more than on the other two days.  There was this one moment when he picked it up and just wanted to go go go, so I turned him across the diagonal and headed for the fence, still very much in control, but inching toward too-fast, and I just had the biggest grin on my face.  Here I was, riding a show-stoppingly beautiful pony, the sire of my own beautiful pony, in front of several hundred people, having trouble convincing him to come down to the trot, but enjoying every single second of it anyway.  That's the thing about the Welsh: things that would be nerve-wracking on a big horse are just fun on them.

Comparing Dundee to Connor directly, I would have to say he felt draftier.  I hope that makes sense.  His canter was just this big, rolling couch of a gait, and his trot naturally gets some of the biggest extension I've ever felt.  I can feel his influence on Connor, but I can also see the refinement he got from his dam.  I loved that he was forward, but easily controlled, confident, yet keenly aware of his surroundings.  I can totally see why this breed is succeeding so much in the Dressage ring, Dundee could take the world by storm, even at 20, with gaits and a brain like that.  Would that Connor inherited a little more of that personality...maybe someday!

I'm lucky to have such a close relationship with his breeder, and to have known both of his parents.  I know how he was raised, and can run hands over either of his parents.  Having primarily owned animals with unknown parentage in my life, this is a new and very nice perk.  Once again, I am very much pro-professional, responsible breeders that are contributing to the improvement of the breed, as Connor's is!

In summary, that was definitely one of the top five coolest things I've ever done on horseback.


  1. That is so awesome! Conner's sire is beautiful and that sounds like an amazing opportunity.

  2. Ahh, yes, it was awesome! I still get a smile on my face thinking about that ride.

  3. Wow, that is one handsome thick necked Pony!

  4. The thick, cresty neck in stallions is a breed trait. At the Horse Fair, people have come up in the past and asked, (Western accent here), "Why don't you sweat that neck?" It's a Cob thing!

    He is so handsome. :)