I went back and rode King today.
I’ve never been one to fall for blondes, but I think I’ve fallen for one.
Today was the coldest, windiest day yet this season. It didn’t even get above freezing, and with the wind, it was likely to be painful if you stood around too long. Still, after M and I checked in with each other (“Are you game?” “I am if you are!”), I donned my warmest riding clothes and trekked out to western MA. I sang at the top of my lungs the entire drive out to keep myself from thinking too much. It worked, for the most part. I decided late last week that as much as I loved Lucy, I just couldn’t stomach the “what if” that came with her age. I will, however, be going back to J’s to ride in the near future! So, with that in mind, this little test ride had a lot weighing on it and I was trying not to psyche myself out.
I was wrestling on my heavy Mountain Horse jacket when M pulled up, waving enthusiastically. We schlepped out to King’s paddock together, wincing against the wind that cut to the bone. King spotted us once we got into the paddock, and didn’t hesitate at all to leave his hay to come say hello. He snuffled his mama, and then turned those bright eyes on me. I melted a little, against my better judgment. Hmph!
M handed me the lead line and we walked into the barn. King crossed tied nicely, even if he was a bit wiggly, and inspected us both for cookies. He made me laugh with his curious, in your pocket attitude about everything. He got a little cranky with me when I rubbed his belly, but quickly quit with the ‘tude when I told him off.
We quickly groomed him up, and welcomed L and R into the midst. L, bundled up to the millionth degree, reaquainted herself with King before taking control of my camera. R was handed my cell phone to get some video. It’s lovely to have ground crew for these horse evaluations!
I dragged my saddle out (with stirrups this time, thankyouverymuch) and situated it on his back. He cocked an ear, and I could see the gears twisting in his head. I had already decided to lunge him before even thinking about getting on his back, but the slight tenseness that traveled through his body with the addition of the saddle cemented that plan into my mind.
We headed into the indoor (the lovely, lovely indoor!) and I asked him to move out around me on the end of the lunge line. Much like Image did, he zoomed away from me, a little bit of panic in his eyes. This time, however, I knew it wasn’t from bad handling anywhere along the line. The indoor was windy and there was another horse being worked at the other end of the ring and oh my dear LORD she’s asking me to work WHAT AM I EVER TO DO?!
He lost his brain for a bit, that’s for sure. He zipped around me, snorting and putting on a decent show (including a buck or two!). I did happen to notice that even though he was flying around me at mach ten, he wasn’t unbalanced and only leaned into the rope halter I put on him when he was trying to be naughty. It took him maybe five minutes, but after a couple of changes of direction, I saw his inside ear trained on me and the crazy, frantic look leave his eyes. Soon enough, he was licking and chewing at a walk around me, lowering his head and sighing in relaxation. At that point, I figured it was now or never!
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a wee bit nervous. I didn’t expect perfection from him, but I’m coming to realize that I have some PTSD left over from Image. I have to constantly remind myself that MOST horses aren’t going to go all esplodey into a bucking fit when you mount up. So, I put my big girl panties on and climb the stairs (LITERALLY. Biggest mounting block EVER!) and swung my leg over.
King didn’t move a muscle.
Well. Okay then. Good boy!!
I futzed with my tack for a moment, before we headed back down to our side of the ring. I almost burst out laughing. Whenever I actually got to sit on Image (after his bucking fits…poor critter!), I described it as riding a nervous couch. King felt rather similar! His energy was more pent up, “gogogogogogogo” type energy, as opposed to Image’s “omfg imma EXPLODE ANY SECOND” energy. Even with all of this electricity coursing through him, he didn’t offer any sort of rude or mean action. No bucking, no rearing, no shying (even with some gnarly noises coming from the wind outside!), no bolting — not even the slightest inkling that he was going to do any of these things. I thoroughly appreciated his lack of antics. +1 for King!
|“What is this work you speak of?” Also I have a very large ass. Please ignore it.|
We toodled around the ring at the walk until he relaxed a bit. He was very “up” and a bit snorty for the first few minutes, but was quick to settle and tune in to me. I tested his responsiveness to leg, seat and rein. He was a little dull to my leg aids for moving over, but worked off of a gentle squeeze for faster movement. He was definitely rusty at simple things like “whoa” and “back”, but not so much so that I was concerned. I also have a sneaking suspicion that he is used to (and happier in) some sort of shanked bit. His sale photo from when he was a youngin’ showed him ridden in something with a shank and curb chain, and by the way he was reacting to direct pressure from the snaffle I put in his mouth, it’s wasn’t something he was super familiar with.
|Listening and trying!|
When I asked him to move out, he was understandably pacey. HOWEVER — when I checked him back and got him to use himself correctly…what a gorgeous gait this horse has. He has a very correct little rack and the beginnings of a running walk if asked very precisely. He was soft, soft, soft in my hands and super bendy through his body, which was incredibly lovely after riding some pretty stiff, bracey horses the past few months.
|Awkward face moment but holy chunky monkey gorgeous pony!|
Most of all, he made me smile. He TRIED his little furry heart out for me, and that endeared him to me more than anything else. He paid attention, made attempts to give me what I was asking for (even if he didn’t understand) and listened to correction if I gave it. He has his own brain, though, and would test the boundaries once in awhile…I’m okay with testing the boundaries — I like a critter that thinks for itself! He is smart, funny, forward, willing, and while he’s not naturally bold, he takes a lot of comfort in the person who is handling him and has the potential to be a very fun boy out on the trails.
When I got off and took him back into the barn, M slipped out to go find a light blanket to cover him with. I shoved myself into the crook his his neck, and he, quietly and gently, rested his head on my back. He is quite the little fussbudget most of the time, so to have him standing so quietly with me, my face pressed into his warm yellow shoulder, was a little magical.
Okay, little yellow horse. You’ve got me. You win. STAHP.
Tomorrow I go and see Previ the black Peruvian horse, but he has some serious, serious competition right now. I know I said that I really did not want another Walker…but this horse and I clicked and I guess you can’t dictate when and where that happens. It just does. Unless something truly magical happens with Previ and I, I feel I know what my decision is going to be.
It could also be that Image and GP got together somewhere and are snickering at their handiwork right now.
Goddamnit, you furry assholes. Harrumph.
(by the way if I take him I’m renaming him Simba because he is yellow and furry and is pretty convinced he rules all the things)