Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Challenges of Riding Starry D.

The Challenges of Riding Starry D.

Kevin will not be able to ride Starry much for the next week or so, so he offered Lisa a chance to work with him.  Lisa recently lost her horse and is looking for a new one, and he thought she might like to do some riding, in the meantime.

Lisa confesses that she is not a winter trail rider, and the trail is where Starry shines.  The arena is another story, and that is where Lisa plans to spend her time with Starry.

Kevin simply doesn’t ride Starry in the arena, ever.  Kevin also doesn’t school Starry in the finer points of riding.  Essentially, he is a 15-year-old, green-broke horse.  They just go out on the trail and have fun.  It works for both of them, and they are happy and safe.  That is what matters.  It doesn’t make it easy for someone to ride Starry in the arena, though.  My niece has struggled with Starry in there, so I knew what Lisa was in for.

Kevin arranged a test ride for them on an evening that I planned to ride Cole in the arena.  When I arrived at the barn, Lisa was already plodding around with Starry.  I asked if she had trotted, yet, and she said she was just about ready to try.

As I mentioned in the past, Starry has the worst trot—ever.  It is not just really bouncy.  If it was, posting would solve that problem instantly.  Starry’s trot is bouncy and uneven.  It is very hard to get the rhythm.  Kevin finds the best way to even out his trot is to encourage him to go fast.  Of course, going fast is the last thing Starry wants to do in the arena.  In fact, Starry would prefer to not go, at all.

I got to see Lisa’s first attempt at the trot, and she was able to post, but she said it was hard for her.  Starry didn’t get very far, and he started walking.  I suggested trying to post on the very first beat.  It helps Ellen and me when we ride him.

I then left and saddled up Cole.  Kevin went to clean the stalls, giving Lisa some time to herself with Starry.

When I brought Cole in, Lisa was struggling to get Starry to trot.  When he did, he would go about 5 steps and quit.  That’s about how her whole ride with him went.  I did explain that Kevin typically asks Starry to trot by a light tap with the whip instead of using his legs, and Starry may not truly grasp that a leg squeeze is a cue to trot.  Kevin brought out the whip, but that didn’t help, much. 

I suggested tapping his flank instead of by his leg, like you are supposed to, because that is what Kevin does.  Kevin heard this and was dismayed.  He didn’t know you are supposed to tap by your leg.  I explained that it helps reinforce the leg cue, but since Kevin doesn’t use a leg cue, it doesn’t really matter.  Besides, it really doesn’t matter much what cues are used as long as you horse understands what you want.  The only complication comes when someone else rides your horse and doesn’t know which buttons to press.

By now, Lisa could get Starry to trot, but he didn’t stay trotting.  It is hard to say that Starry was stopping out of laziness or stopping because Lisa was struggling to post to his difficult trot.  I did point out that Starry hates to pass another horse on the trail and take the lead.  Sure enough, he would stop whenever he approached Cole.

At one point, I was trotting Cole and heard Starry behind us—coming fast.  I didn’t know what was going on, so I stopped Cole and looked back to see Starry walking.  Lisa told me he went after the Princess, the tyrant barn cat.  I yelled to Kevin that Starry was being bad.  He came rushing in—in a panic.  When I told him what happened, he relaxed—he thought Starry was really bad.  He wasn’t worried about Princess.

Lisa asked if Starry understood he should walk faster when asked, and I explained that he is a naturally slow horse who only walks fast when he is bothered by bugs.

I could tell, through the frustration, that Lisa was still having fun.  I asked her if she felt safe on Starry, and sure enough, she did.  Starry is a wonderfully safe horse.  Sure, all horses have their moments, but Starry’s are few and far between.  That’s the best thing about Starry, and I am so glad that he’s Kevin’s horse.  They take great care of each other.

Their ride ended, and I suggested that Lisa may want to take some Tylenol.  He makes us very sore when we ride him.  Then I realized—they probably didn’t trot enough to make her sore, after all.  It could be a blessing!


TeresaA said...

Poor Starry- he's job description has changed. However, this will be good for him. :)

achieve1dream said...

Hehe I probably shouldn't laugh.... but it's just so funny. It sounds like Starry is a lot of work in the arena. I hope she enjoyed him for the rest of their time together and didn't get too frustrated.