Monday, September 29, 2014

My weekend of horses and a ride on Rondo

Today I got out to the barn for the second time this weekend.  I was meeting with someone about potentially leasing Rondo -- more on that later -- and while I was there, I decided I should ride him.  After all, with V. leasing him and me being so busy all summer, I haven't actually ridden him myself in months.

I was surprised and pleased to see that leaving him to a 12-year-old's riding abilities for months hasn't broken him, as I'd feared.  Within the first few minutes (and with only a crop, no spurs) I was able to establish that I wanted him to respond to cues for more speed or another gait the first time I asked, and not after several (or many) attempts, as V. allows him to get away with.  The result was that he wasn't all that lazy for me, but was picking up the next gait or increasing his speed immediately when asked.  He was also surprisingly responsive, if a bit unschooled, at leg yields, and we were able to open and close the gate together with ease (something V. has, oddly, been too afraid to try with him).

I did find that V. had broken his headset and frame.  He was just getting the hang of it when she started leasing him last year, but she forces him to carry his head very high when she rides.  I've gotten on her case about it, since she pulls on the reins any time he lowers his head even a little, and she insists she is afraid of him bucking... even though he is the most relaxed horse ever and the least likely to buck.  But there are certain things that she refuses to fix and ignores both me and our trainer on, and this is one of them.

It took a little while, but he did figure out what I was asking for when I was trying to get him to lower his head and relax.  Finally he started doing it for me reliably when I asked, but I found that he couldn't maintain it for long -- he is lacking in topline muscle, partly from lack of work and partly because he's been riding with his back hollowed out for so long.  So that's something we'll have to work on and build up to.

Panama, of course, stood at the fence and hollered the whole time I rode Rondo, totally indignant that I wasn't riding him.  I had hoped riding him yesterday would resolve that, but I guess he hasn't had to share me for quite some time now, and as he's been feeling a bit neglected lately too, he was inconsolable.

The good news is that I think I've found someone -- and someone I trust, which to me is the biggest deal of all -- to lease Rondo one day a week.  That will make up for the fact that I'm pretty sure V.'s parents are going to want to reduce the lease amount.  She has only ridden once in the last month, partly because of her mom's orchestrations and partly because a couple days ago she turned down riding to do homework (on a Friday!).  It's even possible they will want to discontinue the lease altogether, although V. tells me she doesn't want to quit riding completely.

I feel good about the woman who will be leasing him one day a week, as she seems like she knows what she is doing.  She has been riding another horse at the barn for a couple of years, and as soon as she left I had at least three people tell me how much they like her and how she rides, and how good they think she'll be for Rondo.  We are going to do a test ride together later this week, and she will start leasing him in November, as she wants to give the owner of the horse she has been leasing (who is older and limited in what she can do) plenty of notice.  In the meantime, I am going to try to get him out on the trail a few times myself.  She agreed to ride him in the arena for a little while to get to know him before she takes him out on the trail, but I would really like to get some trail riding under his belt -- or his girth, rather -- before I turn him over to someone else.

It was a lovely weekend of riding, especially after being out of the habit for so long.  My legs are sure sore, though, and promise to be even more so tomorrow!



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