One of the perks of having a pony is that I get to introduce friends to the joys of horses. Fetti makes an excellent leadline and petting pony. She’s cute, un-intimidating, and friendly.
|Blonde. Pink. Usually braided. “Food, maybe?”|
If I ask nicely, other ponies are often available to me for beginner trail rides. I’m very lucky to have generous friends with bombproof, beginner-safe ponies. Several friends have gone out on rides with me, and my boyfriend comes out a few times a year.
It dawned on me that aforementioned boyfriend, despite gamely attempting to keep up on the adorable, wonderful, bombproof, pogo-stick trotting pony on the trail, had never really had a Proper Lesson, and never quite entirely got his posting trot down. This must be fixed.
I started his mini-lesson with him riding a bombproof pony in a Western saddle. Unfortunately, I’m an English rider through and through. I have drilled in the basics of alignment head-hip-heel. This does not work quite so well in a Western saddle where the seat naturally sets one further back. Safe trotting: accomplished. Position: needs work, fighting saddle.
I have a perfectly good horse with a well-balanced saddle, and how hard can trotting on a lunge line be?
|Hard enough that I can’t get photos while lunging – it took two of us in the round pen to get video for boots.|
To my credit, I did lunge Fetti without a rider first. She was fine. Put the rider up. She was fine. Bunch of polite circles, both directions, only mildly fussy until the reins got dropped and then all was well. If I were smart, the blog post would be ending there, her career as an occasional lesson pony secure, her halo appropriately transparent and sparkly.
Another dear friend of mine came out recently. He’s been on for a few tiny trail rides, but less experienced and recovering from some injuries a while back. Bombproof ponies are unavailable, but Fetti should be fine. This time, I stuck her in the round pen first, knowing she’d been full of herself lately. It took thirty minutes for her to settle into a reasonably polite semi-beginner trot. Maybe she’s just forwards today, I thought. Usually once she’s settled, she stays settled.
Tacked up. Added rider. Back in the round pen, ask for a trot, acquire a FLOUNCE into five steps of trot and some threats at canter, interspersed with the occasional solid 7-10 steps of trot. The assumption is made that the rider is somehow cuing incorrect – after all, horses are honest, we know there’s an imbalance from an old injury, she’s already been worked and unlikely to go forwards, that’s not her normal. To his credit, the friend managed to work out a fair bit of posting trot and balance even as Fetti is not making it easy.
I hopped up to demonstrate the difference between western pleasure jog and serious endurance trot, and found that my generally sane horse was a raging snotty bitch. Leg? OMGIHATEYOU. Canter? FLOUNCE. Trot politely? CANTER.
A dressage whip was retrieved. The pony and I had a Serious Discussion about how such behavior is unacceptable (and in which I deeply regretted not turning her out in the arena within the past week). I apologized to beginner friend for doubting his balance and told him that he was (probably) fine and it was just Fetti being obnoxious. He’s a little bit crazy, too; he got back on and we did a bit more work, slightly more productive, slightly less attitude.
Lesson pony halo status: seriously tarnished, possibly confused with devil horns?
I know she needs turnout. I know she hasn’t worked hard enough this week. Honestly, I’m really grateful that this is the first day in ages that she’s thrown this sort of full-blown hissy fit. It used to be a regular event! Nonetheless, let this serve as a reminder to me: Fetti is never going to be 100% beginner-safe.