Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Learning to Ride a New Horse

Learning to Ride a New Horse

My nieces are riding again with us this summer. Our younger niece always rides Ranger. This isn’t a problem, because Kevin graciously allowed us to use Starry, and Ellen likes riding Starry.

My older niece used to ride Mingo, and now she has to ride Starry, instead. (Because of Cruiser’s occasional unpredictable spooking, I am the only one that rides him. We don’t want any sort of accident that may cause him to re-bow his tendon.)

Well, all I can say is I miss my Mingo. My niece could ride him all she liked, and I barely worried a moment. He took good care of her, and she trusted him. There was something calming and soothing about Mingo. He was like a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold day.

Starry is a horse of a different color. First of all, he is buckskin instead of black—definitely a different color. He is also HUGE—at least a hand taller than Mingo. His size can be very intimidating for a new rider. He can be quite spirited, and he is very fussy about bugs—tossing his head about.

Starry also has a trot that must be posted. This is a problem for a girl that learned to ride on the smoothest, non-gaited horse ever born. Although I did teach her to post, she had no reason to practice it until she could do it without thinking. If you did missed a beat with Mingo, it didn’t matter. Starry—well he may have the roughest trot in the world. I have never ridden a rougher one.

I thought I would introduce the trot slowly to my niece. I told her to let me know when she wanted to stop. I glanced back and saw a look of great discomfort on her face as she bounced along. She lasted maybe 5 seconds and she wanted to stop and rest. I don’t blame her. We found out another advantage of Mingo. When she would ask him to trot, he would walk faster and then ease into his trot. Starry leaps right into his bone-jarring trot and is bouncing her all about before she could even think of posting. By then, she is ready to quit, and I don’t blame her.

We tried a couple more times with about the same results. The last time we tried, Starry comes flying past me in the canter. I stopped Cruise and reminded my niece that if she pulled the reins instead of yelling to walk, he would stop. She did, and he slid to a halt. I didn’t expect the cantering, at all. By now, I was ready to walk the rest of the ride. I asked my niece how she felt about his canter, and she said, “At least it was more comfortable than his trot.”

We went down the trail just a few minutes to the next river crossing and then turned to walk home. This presented a new problem. The week before, Kevin was riding Starry, and he got attacked by some sort of bug in a very sensitive area of his underbody. Starry panicked. I didn’t see it because Kevin was riding alone that day. Apparently, Starry decided he was stuck in a snow drift and started going forward and backward; forward and backward; frantically. It only ended when Kevin slid off to the ground, fortunately unhurt. Starry was fine for the rest of the ride home.

A couple days later, I was riding with Kevin, and a nasty bug attacked Starry. He decided the best thing to do was jump up and down in place. (Starry, not Kevin.) That lasted only a couple seconds, but Kevin was having flashbacks, and he got very shaken up.

I was concerned that Starry might get attacked, again, and start to panic. My niece is not a good enough rider to deal with something like that. Ellen and Kevin had ridden Starry, since, with no problems. Common sense said everything would be fine. Of course, it was, but the whole way home, Starry was tossing his head about to chase the mosquitoes away. I kept Cruiser in the lead and just kept looking back, checking them.

Whew, we had a successful ride and made it home safely. I’m sure it is the beginning of plenty of good rides for my niece before she leaves in August to start her education at Cornell to study engineering. She may find that learning to ride a new horse is more challenging than anything she learns in college. She had the good life, before. She had Mingo. Yes, I miss him more than ever, now.


achieve1dream said...

Starry definitely sounds like a challenge, but it's good to learn to ride different horses. I hate rough trots. My Appy mare had a rough one, but it was easy to post to at least.

achieve1dream said...

That's funny about the fireworks. :) I guess it's true when they say you always want what you don't have. :)

There have only been two Fourth of July's that I've ever been able to shoot off or watch fireworks in my entire life and I still have never seen a professional display, so I'm not burned out on them. I'd love to see one of the Air Force displays. That would be cool.

At least we still both had good days with no bad news and we have our independence. :)