|Me on a PWF lesson pony during summer camp :)|
I have a mare to ride! Her name is Jade, she's a dark bay ottb, petite little thing too! All the better for my short leg, lol :) She's not as narrow as Tiki, but she's a little bit smaller than he, maybe 15.1 or so?
It's always a tossup when you're doing a blind meet and greet. It has been confirmed that "horse people are crazy", so I was unsure about Jade's owner, S, and she was unsure about me as well. When we conversed and she mentioned she'd ridden Jade in a western saddle, I asked her if I could ride in her english one. I am one of those weirdos that feel very uncomfortable and insecure in a western saddle, and I've ridden in all types. I sold my BdH I'd bought for Tiki because I never loved it for ME, and it really didn't fit much of anything OTHER than Tiki, so it was just taking up space in my apartment. You just never know what kind of equipment people are going to have, so I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped for the best!
The barn is pretty nice; 2 rings, a roundpen, a nice sized barn. Pastures are dirt lots of course, but I've come to realize that is par for the course in Cali. Miss Jade is pasture boarded and barefoot, woop woop! I tried so hard to do that with Tiki, but he loves his stall too much for that, and his feet just never toughened up enough despite copious applications of pine tar. We brought her in, knocked the dirt off, and S put the saddle on. Yay! It's a lovely saddle, super soft and nice and sticky :) It even has the long billets; it's a brand I don't recognize, but it seems to be a nice quality. The bit I rode her in was a kimberwicke, but S is completely cool with me experimenting with a few different ones. I will try her in the loosering french link next time. We put her in the roundpen, and nothing happened, so I felt fine taking her into the ring and getting on.
I'm completely grateful that after 5 months of not riding, all your skills don't go away, lol! I never felt 'off' or awkward at all, I just got to work figuring her out. The walk work was fine; she isn't fussy at all in the mouth. I did a few circles, some light leg yield, a little shoulder-fore and Jade was good. I then picked up the trot and felt right away why S hasn't done much with her. She's not an easy ride! She's the type to move fast but not go anywhere. She tries to fall into the center, she spooks off the rail, she curls up behind the bit, but goes fast and hangs on you too. Definitely on the sensitive side, but I like them that way. S has said her struggles are mostly that she's a "do it yourselfer", and when Jade gets difficult, S doesn't feel comfortable picking a fight, so she's been doing just mainly walk and some trot. I really hope that I can help her out; the mare WANTS to be good I think, but she also is one that works REALLY hard at getting out of work.
I did a TON of circle, reverse, come up centerline, circle both ways, half turn in reverse a bunch, leg yield to and from the rail, shallow serpentine, full ring serpentine. She tries to just blow off the leg in turns and DRAG you around, will definitely have to work on that little maneuver. She will be a fun one to chronicle; I really hope to make some real, tangible progress with her over the coming weeks. Kudos to her, she does canter both ways on the correct lead (definitely a drama queen about it, though), and she has 3 nice gaits, so there's plenty there to work with. Though she threw lots of avoidance techniques at me, she was never a witch, so I feel comfortable riding her alone. S was thrilled when I finished up and said I loved her, gave me the green light to ride any time :) I didn't time my ride, I finished up with a short canter both ways, then a little trot over a single pole each direction. She felt steady in my hand, responsive, and reasonably straight and engaged. I think the snaffle will really help with the behind the bit thing, I'm not a huge kimberwicke fan anyway, so we'll see how she goes. I actually think she's a good candidate for the waterford, but it's only a 4 3/4 which will be too small for her, unfortunately.
So, "Tails" is back! I'm just riding her once a week, twice on the weeks I'm off on Saturdays. My goal is to help her be more consistent and steady for S. I think just insisting on a good work ethic can go a long way towards achieving that goal. Laters, y'all!