Monthly Archives: March 2006

Courage in the Face of Large Animals

Two lessons ago, my riding instructor Amanda (probably 105 pounds ringing wet) showed me what she could do with an animated and attitudinal mare who was hell-bent on showing herself (the mare, not Amanda).

Amanda was giving me a ground lesson and thank God all I had to do was watch from the safety of the observation area. Let me tell you, the observation area doesn’t feel too damn safe when a mare (even a smallish one) is running around and around in crazy circles, bucking, snorting, galloping, and then bucking some more. There’s no iron bars or glass or a nice big moat — just a low wall between the observer and the observee.

I hugged myself tight as I watched Amanda stride fearlessly out with nothing more than then end of lead rope in her hand to give the mare directions. See, every time the mare stopped, Amanda ran up to her and began twirling the rope overhead, which sore distressed the mare. Even when the mare “hid” on the other side of the ring behind the round pen, Amanda wouldn’t let her off the hook, but kept her going around and around.

When the mare charged past the observation area, she’d cock a look my way. Naturally, I stepped back a pace or two since I had visions of the horse, all foam and hooves, deciding to attack me. I was sending out waves of fear from my trembling body (easily outweighing Amanda’s by at least 30 pounds) and my mouth was hanging open. If it was warm out, I would have caught flies but never noticed them, so tremendous was the thunder of the irritated little horse.

At some point, the horse stopped her running. Amanda walked over to her slowly as the mare folded her legs underneath herself and then lay in the dirt for a moment to roll.

“Why did she did that?” I asked. Heck, I thought horses just stayed standing unless they had an itch some place. It’s something to watch that big thing (even a small big thing) get down on the ground. It’s like watching and ironing board fold and then unfold itself.

“I don’t know,” said Amanda, “but it was really brave of her. It was a brave thing to do.” The horse was vulnerable when she did that; that’s why it was brave.

The horse was brave? Amanda was brave. “I’m terrified,” I admitted.


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The Little Things

It’s the little things, isn’t it — or aren’t they? For some reason, I can never ever remember the preferred way to saddle up the horse. I mean, I don’t put the thing on backwards (my awkwardness isn’t that bad but I do get awkward), but I forget the little things, like running the billet straps through the other little elastic strappy things on the saddle pad. Is that so hard to remember? Well, for me, the answer is often “Yes, it’s that hard to remember. I know I’ve been doing this for a year and a half and you’d think that once a week for a year and a half would get the mechanics of this in place.” You’d think.

Well, this time when I tacked up, I made it a point to remember what Amanda was telling me. See, what I now remember about the girth is:

1. The buckle on the elastic end goes on the left side of the horse.

2. I only need buckle through the first hole. Then I go around and;

3. Pull the girth through as tight as possible on the right side so that;

4. When we walk into the ring and the horse deflates its abdomen, there will be some girth on the left side (the one with the elastic) and we’ll be able to tighten things from there.

I also noticed that the girth had a ring on one side, presumably for some kind of Martingale device, which also helps in remembering which side is which. I felt so proud of myself for noticing that one! Yippee!!!

Next lesson, I’ll make notes about the bridle.

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