Yesterday Julie and I took Maddy and Lady out for a ride. It was my second time on Lady, the first was a few days after she squished my foot (which still hurts, but is healing) and I very nearly had an emotional breakdown just getting on her (long story). Happily I was able to swing up into the saddle with only minimal hesitation.
This second ride was decidedly more purposeful than our first. That first ride was more about me being physically back on a horse after such a long hiatus that I wasn’t really worried about what the horse was doing. Yesterday’s ride let me know a whole lot more about Lady. First off, Lady is a very forward horse, until she decides that she’s had “enough” at which point she stops, parks, and politely asks that you get off. Secondly, Lady isn’t particularly brave. She’s quite willing and forward so long as she’s on familiar ground, but the second that she’s somewhere new, she becomes timid and hesitant… not spooky, but not brave either. She’s quite willing to follow (and by follow I mean rest her head on the lead horse’s butt while pushing them ahead of her) and then take the lead on the return, but she’s definitely not a brave leader. For the most part I found her to be solid, if a bit green, and very reliant on her companion horse. If Maddy seemed spooky, then I felt Lady get lighter in her mouth and more tense. If Maddy was calm, then Lady was fully relaxed. We also discovered that Lady doesn’t like dogs (or cats or other small furry creatures). She doesn’t spook, just tries to decapitate them with a deadly accurate kick. The only thing that she did spook at during our ride was a razor scooter that one of my neighbor’s granddaughters was riding. It probably wouldn’t have been a problem at all had the child not raced the thing up ridiculously close to Lady’s hindquarters. She spooked up a few steps but settled quickly… so quickly that I hardly call it a spook at all.
Overall I think Lady is a bit lazy, probably due to sporadic riding at her previous home, but is showing incredible potential. Her trot is big and forward. I have not cantered her yet… partly because she’s out of condition but mostly because I am out of condition!! She does have rhythm issues, but again I think consistent schooling will iron that problem out as well. Currently I’m riding her without a whip or spurs (her previous owner relied on both) and in a Kimberwicke (I never tried the bit that came with her as it’s actually too small for her mouth). I love Kimberwickes for draft horses as they seem much more responsive to that bit than any other I’ve tried (and I’ve tried loads!) Lady’s previous owner had great difficulty with turning and relied heavily upon a German Martingale for “power steering”… I have not had this problem and have seen no need to tack her with the German martingale at all. I am having a problem with “overflex” in her neck which is probably due to the martingale, but we’ll see how that progresses.
I’m not a big advocate for riding with a multitude of artificial aids. I do ride with a long dressage whip when we hack but that’s only partly for a riding aid… mostly it’s a defensive aid against spider webs (seriously) or flies.
Anyway… I think we had a good outing yesterday and I’m already looking forward to our next ride… maybe this afternoon??