Due to lack of material (I took a break from my horsey life to spend an awesome long weekend in Aspen skiing with a group of amazing friends) I have decided to jump on the blog hop bandwagon and discuss who can ride my horse. Lots of equestrian bloggers have been doing this as well, a few that come to mind are Amanda, Lisa, and the originator of the trend- Olivia. Anyone else I missed, please comment with a link to yours as well!
But really, who can ride Rio?
Since Rio is turning 6 this year, I can’t really use his age as a blanket excuse anymore. Most 6 year old horses are pretty dang broke… but not mine! Rio is behind for his age- predominately due to being started late due to his massive size (17.3!) and only worked lightly with lots of time off to accommodate growth spurts. When I tried him prior to buying him late June of last year- I couldn’t get him to pick up his right lead, circling was a strug (and by circling I mean like a large circle), and the canter basically felt like an unbalanced hand gallop. He was pretty dang green- to no fault of his own or the trainer I got him from; he just had not had enough rides at that point in his life. I have currently owned him 8 1/2 months- almost 4 ish of which he has been off/on stall rest at times. All in all, from the history I got from the seller and with what I have actually ridden him- I think if you added up all his training to this point, it would maybe be equivalent to a year’s worth.
I bought a young horse on a purpose though. Rio’s lack of experience is one of the reasons I really wanted him. In my earlier riding life, I have spent countless hours on innumerable horses fixing bad habits. Without going off on a huge spiel- I have come to the conclusion that it is WAY easier to start fresh then to fix training that is already ingrained. I have sworn many times over the years that I will always buy young horses- so at least if they develop bad habits, it will be from me so they probably won’t bother me very much!
That all being said- I’m kinda picky about who can ride my horse. He has a GREAT brain, and a super attitude, so in all honestly he would probably be fine with a few iffy rides- but why risk it? I finally have my own version of a unicorn, with less then 4ish months of actual rides together, I am pretty protective of who rides him. Currently the list of who can ride him is… 2 people. Trainer and Me. I would also be happy to let my BFF ride him, or a few other select friends who I rode with in college- because I am familiar with their riding style. I would let any of those girls ride him with or without my supervision, because I know I could trust them to make good decisions and because they are at my level of riding or better in some cases! That is basically it though. I know that at some barns it is pretty common place for trainers to have other people ride your horse- whether it be assistant trainers, dedicated juniors, or whoever, but that does not fly with me. I do not want to wonder who has been on him, and what they did on him.
I would say I am pretty ‘in-tune’ to Rio and it is pretty obvious to me when he has been ridden by someone else. He just feels different right off the bat. I rode him last night for the first time in a week (since I was out of town this weekend), so Trainer had been riding him. Even if I hadn’t know she had ridden him, I would have been able to tell. He was a LOT sharper off my aids to start, and seemed to have a more energetic trot from the get go. I am a tad lazy, and I usually have a pretty leisurely warm-up, aka Rio also has a slow warm-up where I don’t put much pressure on him for the first 5-10 minutes, so the peppy from the get go was a definite difference. His first canter transition was lovely- very prompt and energetic, where as they declined slightly during the ride. AKA he was tuned up from Trainer rides initially and then he realized I wasn’t Trainer and am more accepting of less then perfect. What can I say? I make no claims at being a pro. My point being- I can tell if he is responding differently, and I would not want to have to get on and “fix” things or feel like our progress has regressed. #NoNo
Conclusion: I am a control freak when it comes to my unicorn.