I haven't been riding much because Girlfriend is not doing so well lameness wise and Toad has been a nervous wreck what with all the activity at the barn during Christmas break. I was really disappointed today because we were going to do a make-up training session and there was no room in the arena because Trainer J. had a group lesson.
So, I decided to ride Girlfriend and see how she was doing. Unfortunately, I got up on her and she was walking just fine and very energetic, but when we tried to trot it was awful. She was all out of rhythm and she was bobbing her head like crazy. I asked Trainer J. if she could watch her for a moment and tell me if she looked lame, but honestly, I already knew the answer. Trainer J. said it wasn't so much that she looked lame in one particular leg, but that all her legs were super stiff and she was really favoring one of her front legs. So, I think her riding days (other than walking trail rides) are done. I'm sad about it but at the same time it just feels right that now is her time to retire from riding, so I'm not *as* sad as I thought I'd be. I need to talk to her previous owner about possibly having her live there, and if that doesn't work out my farrier has a nice farm where he boards a few retired horses just up in Lake Stevens which sounds nice for her.
Luckily for me, T. was there riding Temple and she'd offered to let me ride her the other evening when I was there to drop off supplements, but I had my daughter with me who was ancy to go home and I was wearing jeans and the wrong boots for riding. So, I asked if I could try out Temple for five minutes before I went home. Temple is super cute - T. doesn't actually know what she is but she's been told a couple different things. The one that seems the most true is Mustang. Temple is only four years old and she's short - I think 14 hh, and stocky. And she's got that wide Mustang head. She's always just poking along with T. on her back, looking mellow and completely unbothered by everything around her. Which is very Mustang of her.
Anyway, I had no idea what to expect other than she's an easy horse to ride even though she's young and green. She was definitely green and a little slow to listen to rein aids. She listened a little better to leg aids. And she had some get-up-and-go! I barely had to use my legs to get her to trot and when she did she went immediately into a fast trot. But I wanted her to do a nice, energetic working trot because it's easier to post for me. Then I asked her to canter and she just took off! Apparently, making the kissing noise works for her just like it would for a barrel horse! I gave her some leg and kissed and she lowered her head and just took off as fast as she could! She kept trying to canter on the wrong lead, so I kept stopping and starting again. So, Trainer J. said just to change direction while cantering (duh ... didn't think of that) and see what happened. What was interesting is that she seemed like it was much harder for her to canter on the right lead than the wrong one and she wanted to go back to the wrong lead. Although for riding it felt a ton better when we'd switch direction and be on the right lead. She is just a super fun little pony! She reminded me a lot of Girlfriend although much greener.
I have to admit this afternoon I was thinking how it would be nice to have a horse I could just hop on and ride whenever I want instead of having to go through so much training and work just to be safe to ride. But I do love Toad. I just need to patient. And I remember I went through phases when I very first got Girlfriend where I felt like she was too hard to ride because she was so different being a Western gamer than what little dressage-trained me knew what to do with. But things turned out great with her and four years (or has it been five now?) later she's the easiest horse of all the ones I know for me to ride.