Mares are tricky. They don't just take suggestions like geldings do. Oh, they'll let you ride them, but it's on their terms.
When I was told I was going to ride Mia today, I knew she had a reputation. A bad fall not a week earlier sent one of her riders to the hospital (luckily, it wasn't too bad, and the girl was back to her normal routine the next day). Now, Mia had behaved like an angel ever since, but the precedent was there, and she's not my ideal type, anyway. She's the kind that doesn't need a lot of drive, and she's a Drama Queen. It was actually her show name for awhile, before we found out that a much more successful jumper in the area had already claimed it.
I also thought back to my own previous Mia experiences. There was the scar on my arm, from when I held her when one of my friends was tightening her girth, and I didn't take the warning that she was girthy quite seriously enough. And then, that very morning, when I went to catch her to bring her in for breakfast, she turned her tail and cajoled her pony army to join her in fleeing the intruder.
So, upon receiving the news that I'd be riding the prissy 15.2 hh gray Thoroughbred hellion, I tried to make the best of it. Hey, I thought, maybe we'd click immediately. Maybe we'd be a good pair, and this could be an enjoyable ride.
Then I got to her stall.
Imagine a grey mare with overo markings. Now turn those white markings green, you know, that unique manure shade.
The mare had laid down in the poop in her stall and turned her into a green and gray pinto. I never did curry it all off - I resigned myself to give her a bath after I finished riding.
One grooming session, a girth exchange, and two black polo wraps later, I finally mounted.
Though she's only 1 inch shorter than Blue, She immediately felt smaller. Maybe because she's not as leggy? But what she lacked in size, she made up for in barrel. Unlike my beloved slab-sided gelding, she has well-sprung ribs that accommodate my legs quite nicely.
She started out pokey, but I found that she was quite responsive to the crop. Unfortunately, though I KNOW she's well-versed in the lateral aids, she decided to pretend she wasn't, and made me keep on her to do simple things. My Blue horse, on the other hand, once you get past his little 5-minute "I don't like spurs" temper tantrum, doesn't pull any punches and listens to leg aids like a good boy (I didn't wear spurs with Mia because a] I haven't ridden her before and didn't want to take chances and b] from what I have seen, they would have sent her into the next county).
While she understands the forward aids, the resisting aids, and the aids for half-halt, she can't seem to allow herself to trust me and give me a bit of flexion at the poll. It's perfectly possible that my arms were stiff...I mean, even though I had relaxed a bit knowing she wouldn't take off with me, I was still on my guard more than I would have been. Who knows, maybe I'll ride her tomorrow and we can work farther towards that.
We didn't jump today, since we were trying to make the New Holland Horse Auction before camp ended, but we did do a simple little dressage test in a small dressage arena we built to scale within our actual ring. And I do mean simple, with nothing more challenging than some 20 meter circles and cantering. However, Miss Priss decides that since there isn't really a wall there, she'll fall out around every corner and just, in general, be more difficult to slow down than she had been.
It also bears mentioning that the first time I cantered her was in the little dressage ring, and boy, she is not comfortable, trot or canter. She's got one of those jarring, bounce-your-seat-out-of-the-saddle canters, both directions. I had to sit very deeply and sink my weight way down into my heels to keep from pounding on her poor back.
Overall, it was a decent ride for my first time riding her (or any touchy mare for a very long time), but the true test with Mia will be jumping, especially since all of our jumps are out in the field and invite horseplay. :) Well, I suppose you'll get the play-by-play tomorrow.
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5 years ago