Saturday, July 16, 2016

Steele From The Heart

Every little girl dreams of having a pony. I dreamed of a grey pony named Tinkerbell or a black pony named Stardust. My childhood dream was slower pushed aside and I never got my pony. But, as a 25 year old adult, I have finally achieved my childhood dream and got my pony.
"Well hi everyone"
In May I finally found a barn in Florida. It is close to my apartment, close to work, and the riders at the barn are extremely welcoming. After having a few lessons on various horses I was asked if I wanted to try the green pony. She needed a short rider (check), who had time to ride her consistently (check). I said yes and tried her in a lesson.

During that lesson I fell in love with her. She knows her walk, trot, and canter, and how to jump. But she still has her "stupid baby" moments, such as not hitting her correct lead for the canter every time. My trainer asked if I wanted to lease her and my immediate response was "yes". I wanted more than anything to have the chance to work with this pony.

Since June I have been proud to call Cupid "mine". I get to see her as often as I like and work with her on her little quirks. We're focusing right now on building muscle and maintaining a consistent pace for the walk and trot. When I feel like we have both gained some strength I hope to work on her canter leads. Once she gets her leads down (and finds a child) she will be unstoppable in the pony ring.

So, expect to see more of Miss. Cupid, hopefully she'll be around for awhile.
The heart of on her shoulder that earned her her name
As part of a funny introduction to Cupid I'll share a moment from a few weeks ago.

Some other riders in the barn were cooling down their horses and one had taken off her saddle to do a bit of bareback work. The saddle was sitting on one of the jumps so nothing would happen to the tree or anything. I don't remember if I saw the saddle and disregarded it, or just didn't notice it. Strange things tend to end up in the arena of this barn as people work on desensitizing their horses.

Cupid and I walked over to the mounting block, I tightened the girth, dropped her stirrups, and flipped the reins over her head. As soon as I lined her up next to the mounting block, Cupid saw the saddle and panicked. Thankfully, she isn't the type of horse to run. She began to back up slowly which gave me time to flip the reins over her head so I could maintain a grip on her. I did not want her to start to run and catch her leg in the reins.
She's always following me
After letting her back away from the jump and talking to her in a calm voice I was able to get her to stop and think. We stood for awhile and just watched the pony eating saddle. After standing for about 2 minutes, Cupid let me lead her a few steps towards the saddle. With each step she stood directly behind me as if I were the sacrificial lamb.
Something like this. But in this instance she was trying to find the treats that she thought I had.
Slowly we inched our way towards the saddle and jump, until we were close enough that I could touch it. As soon as I touched the saddle it was like something clicked in her mind. This saddle was just like the one on her back, only it was sitting on a jump. We took a few minutes to sniff and touch the saddle, then she was comfortable enough for me to lead her back to the mounting block and start our ride. (I did ask one of the other girls to hold her in case we had another spook. I did have to throw myself off our mounting block to keep a hold on her reins)

One would think that her reaction to this saddle would indicate that she is extremely aware of her surroundings. Today, my trainer had a whole new set of gorgeous jumps along the one side of the arena. Both of the horses who were in our lesson had "what the hell is that" moments. Cupid glanced at them and kept doing what I was asking her. Some days she's extremely smart, others she's willing to defer the thinking to me.

Just another day in the life of a green pony.

*Correction - I found out at our show in September that her show name is actually "Steele My Heart". whoops.

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