May 26, 2016

An Afternoon with Ramone and Mouse

One of the first people to reach out to me when I said I was going to California was L. Williams, who I met once before, when Facebook flew me out to Menlo Park for an interview two years ago.  We had a great time last time, but I was on a tight schedule and didn't get to meet Ramone, so I was pumped that my schedule would allow for it this time!  And I even got to ride him!

The most majestic of Mooses.
Guys, L is not very good at tooting her own horn, so I'm going to do it for her.  As I watched her warm him up, and he went around looking like one of those professional hunters I've always seen in pictures, I thought to myself, "Wow he looks different, when was the last time I saw video of Ramone?"  I realized it had been a while.  L confirmed she hasn't had anyone around to take videos in a while.

My poor cell phone pictures aren't going to do them justice, but I'll give it a shot:

He looked SO good, so polished, like a horse with a job that he knows well, and that job is professional hunter.  He was so steady and consistent, and just made me want to stop and stare.  He's also enormous, and I gotta admit I was intimidated when she handed the reins to me.

I mean, I'm used to riding the horse equivalent of Raleigh over there on the left (THE CUTEST CORGI IN THE WORLD!), not Ramones!
But I was surprised when I got on him.  First, by the fact that he does not ride huge despite being huge.  I'm used to big horses riding like dump trucks that my short legs are completely ineffective on, but this horse, I could manipulate him with the slightest of aids.  Second, by his gaits that have so much more air time than I'm used to.  Swooooon.  And third, by how not intimidating he was to ride - because of how well-trained he is.

You immediately get a feel for what kind of rider L is when you get on Ramone: soft hands, solid core, rides from back to front, and uses quiet and meaningful aids.  He really is comfortable shifting his weight back over his hocks, and adjusting his stride is simply a matter of sitting up and tightening your core just the slightest bit.

I have never ridden a horse so straightforward, sensitive, and uncomplicated that a trainwreck like me could get on and look reasonably competent, and I know he wasn't always that way.  She's really produced the perfect amateur-friendly horse.

Can we talk about this massive outdoor for a second, and those hills?  I loved it!
I'm a big chicken when it comes to cantering and jumping strange horses, but I was never nervous to do either on Ramone.  What you saw in the trot - quiet, rhythmic and even - was exactly what you got in the canter.  I have to admit, when I felt that easy-yet-powerful canter, I was like "Ohhhhhhhh - THIS is why people like hunters so much!"

I could have ridden that canter forever, but I was extremely conscious that I am not the greatest of riders and Ramone is for sale, and I didn't want to undo anything, even though L told me I wouldn't mess anything up.  And also, I had another ride waiting for me: Paige's reiner, Mouse:

Paige is tall with long femurs, so I couldn't get the stirrups short enough and was positively swimming in her saddle, but I had a blast anyway!  I've never ridden a Western horse before, much less a reiner, so it was a total paradigm shift.  Poor Mouse even got to put up with me learning to do a reining spin for the first time:

It was so much fun!  I was so grateful to Paige and Mouse for patiently telling me to put my hand down over and over.  Everyone got to experience what teaching me a new skill is like: you all but have to pick up my body parts and put them where they're supposed to be before I get something.  But we got it, mostly because Mouse is really well-trained.  She's done all kinds of rodeo queen stuff with Paige.

Way too soon, it was over and I was driving back to my hotel, but I was incredibly grateful to have gotten to ride two fun horses, hang out with L again, and meet Paige and Raleigh.  Here's hoping I get to go back out there soon!


  1. So much fun! It must have been a massive difference getting on Ramone!

  2. Blogger meet-ups are the best! I loved meeting L when I visited San Fran <3

  3. You are way too sweet! Also you are not a trainwreck of a rider, give yourself some credit too

  4. super jealous!!! sounds like a great trip and both horses sound like really interesting (and different!) rides! i love mouse's face in that spinning video lol

  5. This sounds like such a great time!!

  6. Wow, super jealous! Glad you were able to fit some fun into your work trip!