Our daughter has been wanting to listen to "Mardi Gras music" (ie: Zydeco) for the last couple days and it's making me homesick for being down in the New Orleans area. I really fell in love with Mandeville when we were down there in fall and New Orleans has so much great stuff for kids not to mention the food and not to mention all the relatives. I still think it's a losing proposition to get my husband to move back to the deep South though. Although he's got both me and our daughter wanting to move there.
Yesterday I went out to see Girlfriend and took my neighbor, Cheryl who wanted to watch some of the lessons to get an idea if it would be a good place for her granddaughter to take lessons. Unfortunately, we got out there and Sheryl, the instructor, was out of town. She's in Stockton, CA at a chicken show with her friends (I don't just mean her chicken friends ... she has human friends who go to those things with her too). The teens were there exercising Sheryl's horses since there were no lessons. She has one bay named Bailey who in his hey-dey was a WA state dressage champion and I suddenly got the idea in my head that I wanted to ride one of her horses.
I've ridden Doc the absolute beginner-of-beginners lesson horse and Texas the "just a little bit more advanced" lesson horses but Sheryl wants me to learn how to ride my horse so I usually take lessons on her. But my horse is quite different to ride than the lesson horses. For one she is not trained English and for two, well, she is Girlfriend. She is "the hottest horse Sheryl has ever seen".
One big difference with Bailey is he is big. So, it was a little harder for me to get on even with the mounting block. My stirrups were too short which didn't help, so when I was up on him, I swung my leg forward and changed the stirrup length which I could never do on Girlfriend because she'd just dance off on me (standing still is not her strong point). Then I was amazed how much it took to get him to listen to me. With Girlfriend I swear I just think our commands and she does them, I barely use any rein, I barely us any leg and she instantly complies. I had to give Bailey an actual little kick to get him to walk on and had to really use my leg to get him to stay on the outside of the arena, or go on the inside track when Sarah was cantering with Oh No (which is quite a feat since Oh No pretty much only likes to sleep).
Bailey's trot was very different too. It felt like a rocking horse just gently swaying back and forth and you could just sit quietly on his back while he trotted and feel very comfortable. I've never ridden a horse with a trot like that! I wonder if that's what it's like to ride a gaited horse? I couldn't get him to canter though because when I'm riding Girlfriend I just think "canter" and she will (or I just stop trying to hold her back). But with Bailey (since I wasn't using a crop) I had to actually kick him and I just don't know how to sit quietly and kick a horse to canter anymore. I tried just squeezing with my leg and he ignored me, so I gave him a good kick with my outside leg and immediately lost my stirrup (and he ignored me). I guess I'll just have to use a crop when riding him, but I haven't used a crop in over 20 years so I was hesitant to try without Sheryl there to remind me how.
It reminded me that I need to ride other horses too because I'm so used to Girlfriend and I feel super green as soon as I get on a different horse. Well, not super green, we walked and trotted just fine and my seat was fine, it's just I'm not used to actually have to work to get my message across to a horse.
My neighbor Cheryl said it seems to her that since Girlfriend is my first horse, it will be hard for me to ever have another horse that is not hot like her and I agreed. You'd think it would be easier to ride a calmer horse but it's actually harder now because it's like going from whispering all the time to communicate with someone to suddenly being told they won't hear you unless you scream and yell at the top of your lungs. Plus, beautiful and graceful as Bailey is, it felt like there was something missing when I was riding him. There was none of that spirit and just overwhelming excitement and love for life that Girlfriend has. She is definitely a very special horse.