Saturday, March 8, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story Chapter 3

Part 1

I squeezed the Arabian horse lightly with my legs and Dandy carefully walked off. I think about all the times I've said impulsion is more important than frame and laugh. Back then the thought of the horse's head up in the air scared me to death. Rolled over in the bridle was my comfort zone.
Thankfully for the two long years of being bitted up, lunged or long lined, the horse was comfortable with it too. Impulsion wasn't sacrificed much and his balance wasn't too bad either. I guess that's a testament to the structure and talent of the horse. Right from the start the horse seemed to be pretty square between my legs.

At first I just walked him around the perimeter of the round pen flexing him slightly to the inside and to the outside. Working at the walk trying to get my heart to stop pounding. I changed directions across the middle of the circle and found a horse who not only followed his head pretty well, but also gave to pressure from my leg.

I can't even tell you how many laps I walked that poor horse around the ring before I got the nerve up to trot. I had this debate going on in my head about whether I should or whether I shouldn't. But finally the should won out and I squeezed and clucked. At first the horse was unsure but at my insistence he sighed a deep sigh and moved into a nice ground covering trot.

Well, it would have been a nice ground covering trot if I hadn't been scared out of my gourd. At 16 hands tall and those mile long legs it seemed like flying out of control to me. I remember my mind racing about slowing him down. Thankfully Dandy could handle that while I figured out that I could post and it would be better. Oh man, was I dumb but I did know how to post, thank god. Concentrating on my posting gave my mind something to do besides imagine MiKael in the dirt or scraped off on the round pen panels.

I think the horse trotted until I couldn't post anymore. A new debate was happening to lope or not to lope. If I didn't lope, I needed to figure out if I could stop followed by attempting to get off. Loping sounded better because maybe my horse would really be ready to stop.

So I gently squeezed the horse up, put my outside leg on him and kissed to him asking Dandy to lope. The whole time my head was spinning feverishly about what might happen next. Again the horse resisted but only slightly before he broke into a lope. Again I remember the speed seemed like ninety miles an hour. My heart was racing and I felt like I wanted to puke but my horse was just plugging along not the least bit bothered by his mom's near stroke.

One of the most difficult things for me to learn riding on my own was my leads. With no one on the ground to say this one is right and this one is left, I really didn't have much confidence about knowing which was which. By this time I could tell a difference in the feel but I really wasn't sure which feel was right for which direction.

I had tried to teach Dave how to tell if a horse was on the correct lead so that he could help me from the ground. But Dave didn't and still hasn't figured out those finer points of horse ownership. I also tried to teach my kids but they weren't anymore impressed with the job that Dave. I was left on my own to sort this thing out.

For these first rides in the round pen, I had decided that I wasn't going to worry about leads. The only thing I wanted was to safely walk, trot and lope. The finer things like leads would have to wait.

With that being said and hindsight and all that stuff. I believe that Dandy actually did pick up the correct leads. I remember thinking at the time when I'd gotten over the issue of how fast we were travelling that it felt pretty darn good. It was much smoother than the ring sour show geldings and pretty much like the beautiful smooth canter that Scandalous had. It was not what I'd expected for a baby horse's first time.

I worked the horse both directions of the round pen at all three gaits. On the reverse the events went pretty much the same as they had the first direction. I was a wreck and the horse stayed cool as a cucumber. Sweat actually poured from underneath my helmet.

Finally I decided that I had done everything I "should." Whatever that was supposed to mean I am not sure. What I am sure of is the minute I said "Whoa!" Dandy put on the breaks and about sat down in the dirt.

I didn't have any problem stopping him. The horse didn't move a muscle as I climbed off even though I stumbled and fell into the dirt. Dandy just turned his head and nuzzled me as I picked myself up off the round pen floor. I had survived my first ride on an unbroke horse.

I think back to those days and think it's amazing I didn't wreck this horse. I sure wasn't doing anything smart this first ride. I think about my process today and laugh I didn't get myself killed. I do have to say the one good thing I did was I was wearing a helmet!

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

Part 4

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  1. Oh, I just love Dandy! He sure fits his name. Sounds like a true Khemo grandson and the kind of horse I would have liked to own. Can't wait to hear more about him! :)

  2. This post made me smile. "first ride on an unbroke horse". What you know now, is that he was broke, you had done so much groundwork with him he knew what to do. The first rides are always the most difficult aren't they?

  3. Dandy sounds like a great horse with a wonderful personality. I can't believe you went by yourself to give him his first ride. That was very brave. Glad it all turned out right, I'm thinking it must have partly been because of all the ground work before hand, what do you think? I'm a big fan of doing all the necessary ground work before getting on.

  4. "dj", well, the kids named him that, he must have known he had to live up to it. lol

    holly, ya, we'll see how broke he was, this is just the start of this story. lol

    grey horse matters, I can't believe I went by myself either. It was not my first choice but I couldn't find anyone to go with me so I finally went on my own in desperation.

    I know think the two years of groundwork made a lot of difference in our relationship for sure.

  5. I'm glad that went well.

  6. I have just played catchup again and really enjoyed this story. It was similar when I first started My mare Lori but I didnt do anywhere near as much ground work as you did!!!.. The canter was my biggest fear because if they are going to buck that would be the most likely time. I am also used to having a horse with its head up and my mare is more WP bred so she has a lower head carriage so as soon as I started asking for the lope I felt she was trying to put her head down to buck and pulled her up, took me a while to figure that one out LOL. Poor girl it is a wonder she survived me.

    I am really really looking forward to getting some riding in this summer!!


  7. Ilove it...once again I should have brought popcorn

  8. Great story - looking forward to the next chapter. I think it shows just how much a horse benefits from a slow, steady learning process and groundwork, particularly the long-lining.