Thursday, April 8, 2010

Aidol's Story....... the Girls Ride

Part 1

As Dave's horse, Aidol wasn't seeing much saddle time from the man unless I managed to coax Dave into another trail ride. I rode the horse on and off just to make sure he was still "where" we left him but nothing consistent.

Those intermittent miles didn't make the necessary progress to get the horse anywhere near the show ring. The horse did, however, manage to get more and more broke despite how far apart his schooling sessions might be. At one point when Dave couldn't make a poker ride, I took Aidol along anyway for my daughter, Colleen, to ride him. By this time I was confident Aidol could and would pack just about anyone on the trails.

It was another of the annual poker rides put on at Buck Creek by the Meridian Riding Club the first Sunday after Labor Day. It's my favorite of all the rides I've done because the terrain is interesting and even challenging sometimes without being too difficult for green horses or riders. Between that and the fact the club members were usually very friendly and helpful, it was a ride I looked forward to each year.

Colleen hadn't ridden horses much in her life and at this time she hadn't ridden one in many years even though she definitely has "the horse bug." Not wanting to go on this poker ride alone I'd asked both Lindsay and Colleen if they'd like to go when I'd realized that Dave had to work. Lindsay could ride her gelding/therapy horse, Mark, and Colleen would ride Aidol. By then Dandy was green broke and I would be riding him. It would be our first ever "girls ride."

I remember this particular ride just like it happened yesterday. Right from the start Colleen was giddy and nervous. The saddling process was short of chaotic as each of my daughters tried to manage her own horse.

Lindsay was determined she could "do things herself" despite the fact she still hadn't managed yet to tack her horse up at home since her recovery. I'm pretty sure she was motivated by wanting to show her "big" sister how capable she was. Of the two, Lindsay managed the best.......but then Lindsay had the shorter horse.

Colleen wasn't about to be shown up by her "baby" sister so the rivalry between the two girls took on a life of it's own. I'm pretty sure the horses were confused by all the drama. I remember the quizzical expressions each wore.

Watching 5'4" Colleen trying to get the saddle up on 15.2 H Aidol when she hadn't even saddled a horse in many years was a comedy worthy of any winner on Funniest Home Videos. Just getting the pad in place had been amusing but watching the saddle dancing around as Colleen struggled under the weight was absolutely priceless.

When she did get the saddle high enough to go over the horse's back, her aim left something to be desired. She usually managed to knock the pad off to the other side and it would plummet to the ground below. Colleen would have to put the saddle down, clean off the blanket and start the whole process over again.

Aidol stood there like a rock not contributing to the drama but after a sigh or two I was thinking he was really wondering what his day was doing to be like if Colleen couldn't even get him saddled. Now maybe a horse can't really have that kind of logic but on some level Aidol knew things were different than usual.

I think before it was all said and done, I put the "final touches" on all three horses which really translates to when I finished one, I moved onto the next until finally all three horses were ready to head down the trail. Putting on polo wraps and bridles went about as efficiently as saddling had been. By the time we were ready to mount, I was ready for a nap.

Once on board, Colleen's nervousness translated to her squeezing the horse with her legs. Aidol has always been a sensitive horse about cues making him a really soft responsive horse to ride. In this case the horse did just as he thought he was being asked. He jogged along when Colleen really wanted the horse to walk.

Colleen's first response to this was a panicked "Whoa" with a grab at the reins. The expression on her face clearly said she was intimidated by Aidol even though she claimed she wasn't.

I tried to get Colleen to understand she was the cause of the horse's speed but she was convinced otherwise. She kept insisting her legs were relaxed but there was nothing relaxed about her. I could even hear the tremor in her voice that said her heart was racing.

Aidol didn't seem the least bit fazed by Colleen's stress. He knew Colleen. He also knew this area and pretty much what to expect on this ride. The horse never really did get worked up over Colleen's issues. He just went on and did his job the way he thought he should.

It was pretty much the whole first half of the ride that Colleen and Aidol spent trying to figure each other out. Colleen squeezed. Aidol jogged. Colleen grabbed at the reins. Aidol bridled up pushing into the pressure but still jogging. Colleen tensed up. The horse jigged..............and on..................and on............

Intermittently I tried to get Colleen to breathe deeply and relax so she'd stop squeezing.......... Aidol would actually walk for a step or two until Colleen would tense up again. The whole time Aidol never lost patience with Colleen while I cannot say the same is true about her. She was definitely not enjoying her first poker ride and she was adamant it was the horse's fault.

Finally near that halfway point Colleen was just too exhausted to squeeze anymore. Her legs were now like rubber and her horse was walking because he wasn't being asked to do anything more. It was only then that Colleen realized she had indeed been responsible for the horse's behavior. Her rubberized legs the proof she's been squeezing the horse. It was a hard lesson but one well learned.

To be continued...................

The Girls Ride part 2

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  1. The second half of the ride sounds like it was going to get better for Colleen and Aidol. I'm wondering how Lindsay was doing this whole time too. It's nice to have a girls day out anyway just to be together with your girls.

  2. I keep imaging what it must be like to ride a horse like Aidol. Glad it finally worked out and the horse carried your daughter safely.

  3. Arlene, Colleen and Aidol did fine once she quit squeezing him forward. How things went with Lindsay and Mark are the next post.

    deejbrown, Aidol has always made me laugh when I ride him. He's such a character and tries so hard and he loves to go. Between that and being so light and responsive with a face that tells everything, just thinking about him makes me smile.