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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Riding a broke horse

Yesterday at my lesson I rode a broke horse for the very first time in my life. 
No no no - you silly non-horsey person.  Not "broken", "BROKE".  The kind of broke where the horse looks up at you with a kind eye and says "here, let me" and then proceeds to take you on the ride of your life.
Zack is a HUGE 16.3 hand horse (breeding?) who at some point in his career was short (or long?) listed for the Olympics on the Australian team as an eventer.  He's 22 now and still doing a great job packing around lesson kids. 
I've never ever ridden a broke horse, let along someone else's personal, much loved, broke horse.  I admitted to my trainer of being scared to death I was going to mess something up and be permanently banned from the barn. 
He felt....different.  I've ridden big horses before.  The standardbreds used for the CHAS activities are quite big, but Zack was different.  Zack knew how to MOVE. 
Zack isn't a horse to give it up easily - you must first press the right buttons and then he'll reward you with a perfect rendition of what ever you asked for.  But get it wrong...he says "nope, try again." 
We started out with something "easy".  Walk and trot in a 20 meter.  I say "easy" because it wasn't.  The physics of getting this HUGE, LONG, MUSCLE-Y, horse and STEERING him was an issue.  I've never had a problems steering before, but then again, not many horses I've ever ridden have ever been able to flex and position different parts of their body the way he can. 
We patiently got to know each other and my trainer, probably seeing the bored look in his eye decided to give me a ride. 
She instructed to me go down the long side and then do a change of diagonal.
The first one went ok. 
My trainer yelled at me that he knew his job and I was to let him go......
Zack perked up and took off. 
Let me tell you - an extended (2nd?  3rd?  4th?) level extended trot is WAY different from a racing trot, which is the closest I've ever come.  I could almost see his little feeties shooting out in front of us.  I was bouncing around like an idiot with a smile splitting my face, wondering if we were actually going to make the corner.......
Then we went back to 20 meter circles.  Zack seemed happier.  Who says that horses don't like their jobs, even if it's dressage?
It was time to canter.
I was pleased that Zack picked up a canter right away - I have problems with this transition and unless I got it right, Zack wasn't going to do it for me.  The canter WAS HUGE.  I flopped around like a chicken, squawking my silly little head off while panting like a dog. 
Back to a trot.
Deep breath and.....canter.
This went better.  We accidentally jumped a little cone that marked a corner of the arena.  I started to find that soft spot and my leg started to stabilized. 
Apparently this wasn't good enough.  My trainer, with a sparkle in her eye asked me if I was "brave".
On to my first ever flying lead changes.
Apparently, Zack's flying lead changes are "expressive".  This is a good thing in dressage.  This means they feel rather like a buck.
It was incredible. 
By this time I was probably hysterical laughing (being delirious with joy at this point, I don't exactly remember), our canter was a bit out of control and I was having the TIME OF MY LIFE. 
Zack was put away and groomed properly (curried, stiff brush, medium brush, soft brush) and given his "Good Horse Bucket" (GHB - ie rice bran pellets).
I didn't get to sleep until MIDNIGHT I was so thrilled.  I am so totally motivated to do DRESSAGE. 
How dare my life be going so perfectly?  A 100 mile completion, cards (parents and ride manager) congratulating me on my first 100 mile completion, other-things-I-can't-talk-onn-my-blog-about, and the most thrilling ride of my life. 
Farley got 10 days off of pampering and we started work on Tuesday with a hand jog and trot ride (5 miles all together in 50 minutes).  She'll be in easy work until the end of the week and then back to creating our own thrills! 


  1. Nothing quite like riding a school master, eh? I rode my first one recently too and the feeling is incredible! Glad you had fun!

  2. OH yes, you did get the ride of your life.

    We ride our little arabians and once and a while we get the priviledge of riding a master at his job and we never look at riding the same.

    How will you ever fit it all in?

  3. Isn't it awesome!?!? I rode a horse like that once, my trainer had me ride him down a straight line and alternatly pick up each lead, I always had to use bends and corners to get the right lead before!

    My goal is to have Lucy that responsive!

    Mel, its not allowed to mention things that can't be mentioned on on your blog, our minds go all haywire!

    I'm thinking if I make it to Shine and Shine Only and it goes well, I might try Just Coe Crazy, so maybe we will get to hang out at another ride together.

  4. Hee hee...this post made me laugh :)

    I'm so happy for you! And, as your sister, I'm expecting to hear about these "other things" at some point...

  5. Congrats on the 100. But putting Farley back to work after only two weeks off? I guess I am super conservative when it comes to rest after a ride. I am too paranoid about not allowing all the damage from exertion (the ride) heal before doing more damage. Hope the rennies are working out for you. Did you use the ones with the pour-in pads yet? Hope you like them! Amanda

  6. Such fun--I'm grinning like an idiot right back at you!

    As for putting Farley back to work, just ask her if she wants to work. She'll tell you when she's ready. Might be two weeks, might be three or more. But if you turn her out to pasture and she bucks and kicks and farts away into the field, she's ready.

  7. I actually have to disagree. I don't believe horses "know" when they're ready to go back to work. Just because she feels good doesn't mean she's ready to hit the conditioning trail again. And I don't know what could possibly be gained condition-wise by riding her so soon. Her fitness level has increased significantly just by doing the 100 and since horses don't lose condition like humans (as in, as fast as humans), the only thing to be gained by riding so early is damage--and lots of it. Give her another two weeks off from conditioning, at least. She earned it by carrying you 100 miles.

    Just my two cents.


  8.'ve opened up a whole 'nother can of worms for me (she says with exasperation)!

    If a horse competes a hundred miles, and gets a month off every time, then you will complete....uh...three rides total over the course of a summer if NOTHING AT ALL EVER goes wrong?


    If you throw in conditioning you will reduce the competitions down to one or two per summer season.


    This newbie is in need of a fan, or a splash of cold water :/

    *head tilts right, then left*

    After Phebes had the tye-up my vet told me to give her light exercise, not to leave her standing in a stall or paddock or the bad stuff wouldn't work out of those muscles. Endurance vet specifically told me that time off on a fit horse is asking for a tye up and was likely related to why my horse did.

    Wouldn't that apply to muscles that have worked hard too? Wouldn't gentle use limber things up, work out the kinks?

    :( ~E.G.


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