As everyone is now aware I’m sure, Rio is on an extended break from saddle time. I miss riding him TERRIBLY because he is the best horse ever. On the other hand, this is an opportunity to learn from some of the fabulous lesson horses at my barn. IME, it isn’t often that barns have lesson horses capable of regularly coursing 2’9 and that aren’t out of place at A shows so I am very thankful to be learning from them. I thought it would be fun do a little guide to my barn’s schoolies so you guys will know who they are. I have ridden them all in the past, but have also recently lessoned on all 3. Here are my take aways about them and what kind of ride they are like:
aka Cash Money
Cash is about 16.2/16.3 and takes up your leg pretty well. Sitting his trot makes you question your will to live. He has a nice mouth and will happily step into the bridle for you if you have soft hands and a supportive leg. His canter is nice and smooth. Distances can be weirdly deceptive on him, like sometimes there is an add you weren’t sure was there, but he can also easily take a gappy distance. He makes every distance look relatively good though, so you can get away with a lot on him and still make it look decent. He needs a lot of leg on the flat (which I dislike, I got really spoiled with Rio) but has a nice motor once you start jumping. He HATES it if you get in his face too much, especially once you start jumping. Easiest lead changes in the world, like a dream come true.
aka Spooder Monkey
Word on the street is Spidey is an ex-event horse. At about 16.1, he’s a hair on the small side for me, but rides like a much bigger horse. Initially you think there is no way he will soften to the hand and accept contact, but he’s a tricky one. You cannot bully him. You have to ask politely and then soften. Soften BEFORE he gives. I know I know, most time you wait for the give before you soften, but Spidey has other ideas. Lesson horses are allowed to be quirky though, and he relaxes beautifully as soon as YOU give. In a way, this kind of makes him great teacher. You will not win a pulling battle with Spidey. If you feel him tense and you tense and hold, you will both be tense forever. Once you get the knack for him though he is fabulous. He is the kind of horse that gives you confidence to the fences. No matter the distance, Spidey will get it done and it won’t be terrifying. Not going to lie, he makes me want to take up the jumpers. He regularly goes to A shows in the .85s and is a little machine. Rarely a lead change, you don’t even care because you’re having so much fun up there.
Brownie is about 17.1/17.2 and can walk into the modified hunters (2’6/2’9) and win every time given the chance. At home though, you better have some STRONG legs on the flat. I have long legs, and even I have to seriously work to keep Brownie forward. With a LONG canter stride, it can also be a bit tricky to regulate. Once you find your flow though, the A show horse in him comes out and he will ride a course as accurate as you tell him. He can make any distance work with some direction from the rider, and is super fun to jump around on. Lead changes are no problem for this big guy, and he allows you to really work on the precision in your riding. Don’t get him straight after the turn and let him drift a bit? No problem, he’ll still jump but his form will tell on you by being sloppy and uneven. If you do everything right though, it instantly shows in a beautiful square kneed effort. His real name, Panache, truly suits this dapper gelding.