Monday, July 14, 2008

Still horsin' around...

So this horsemanship stuff is dominating all the free time of my summer, not that I'm complaining. A year ago I was laid up with a shattered ankle, having been informed by my surgeon that I wouldn't ride again for a year.

But when you're in your forties you have a better view of the Importance of Time, and how fleeting it is. So I defied my doctors and started riding again last winter. This summer I began training for competitive show jumping along with my youngest daughter, Alex.

Some lesson days are better than others. Yesterday Alex's horse, Stormy, was a bit unmotivated while Tyson, the horse I usually ride, was out having his feet shod. So while Alex tried to light a fire under her horse, I was getting used to Duchess, a spirited three-year old I'd never ridden.



We had a great time, regardless of the challenges and I have no complaints, even though at one point I nearly knocked my head off on a low hanging branch. You can see it in the video, provided you can sit through all two minutes and thirty seconds of it. :-)

And Alex finally got Stormy to trot the course and jump the vertical, which made us all very proud. And I had no problem riding a little horse with a big jump, so that made me quite proud of myself.






We ended the lesson tired and happy, and a bit more confident about our next show which will take place at the end of the month. (Oh, and as an aside to JohnR who noted on my last post that I looked a bit somber, I made sure this time that I included some pictures of myself in which I am actually smiling. It's easier during schooling --far less pressure.:-)



13 comments:

laughingwolf said...

great fun, despite the branch and horse lethargy ;) lol

looking forward to more pics, morgan :)

Anonymous said...

Cute braids. And those black pants or whatever you call them are kind of sexy.

Morgan said...

Thanks, Wuff. Alex is feeling ready for a perkier mount. I'm not sure if I'm ready for her to get one, tho. I'm not afraid of getting hurt, although I should be. I'm more afraid of her getting hurt. But this is her passion, as it as for me when I was her age and I know from experience there'll be no talking her out of it.

Anon. Thanks, I think. Those aren't pants, they're suede schooling chaps. They go over my jeans and help grip the saddle. We're not allowed to use them in shows. And they don't feel sexy at all, especially when it's hot and humid out.

Andrea said...

I'm impressed!

Horses are so pretty, but when I get close to one, their size scares the crap out of me :/

laughingwolf said...

good parents are always wanting to protect their wee bairn, but there's only so much we can do :(

Morgan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morgan said...

Thanks, Andrea. They can be intimidating, but it depends on the horse. The horse I usually ride and jump on is Tyson. He's a former Grand Prix jumper and is HUGE. But he knows more about being ridden than most riders know about riding so he makes it really easy and takes care of me every time I'm on him. Duchess is smaller but knows less and is more unpredictable, so she tests me more. The most obnoxious equines are ponies. If horses acted like little ponies I'd have nothing to do with them. The only thing that makes little ponies tolerable is their manageable size and cuteness. I guess that's why I have six of them. :-)

Wuff, too true. I don't plan to protect Alex from her healthy ambitions. I still remember desperately wanting to ride when I was little and watching my parents faces fill with fear whenever I took a bad fall. But they never told me I couldn't get back on and I am so, so grateful for that.

thimscool said...

Hot and humid?

thimscool said...

Tell us more about the personality of these horses, please.

How would you compare your connection with them to your connection with the goat or Mr. Jingles?

Morgan said...

It's North Carolina, Thimscool. Of course it's hot and humid. Or has the ice age missed us and settled over your neck of the woods?

Personality of the horses? Hmmm. Tyson is a Pro, as in Olympic quality pro. He knows to look out for things even the rider isn't aware of. He's big, confident and professional. Duchess is only three, so she's still learning. Where Tyson takes you along for the ride, she needs direction. She's willing but can act like a petulant child if she doesn't get what she wants. She's not as collected; she needs more contact and cues. She wants confidence, but that will come with time. Stormy is the babysitter of the group. He's 20 and has had more kids on his back than any horse I know, and has taught them all how to ride. He sometimes tests them and I think it's on purpose. He's like, "I'm going to go this right. It's your job to make me go left." He has a bouncy trot and any kid that can post it will be be able to ride the trot of any other horse. He's also extremely photogenic. Oh, and he has cancer. No one knows how long he will be around, but when Stormy dies there will be a lot of big and little riders mourning his loss.

Per comparing my relationship with the horses to the goats and Jingles, that's an easy question. Jingles gets to sleep on my pillow. The horses would never fit. And I can't ride the goats.

And yes, I know my blog is lacking in substance lately. But it's summer, damn it. Give me a break.
;-)

I do hope yours is going well and that you have more time to ruminate over the State of Things than I do. I'm sure you're finding time for fun, especially with those beautiful children.

thimscool said...

Hmmm. I guess I'm trying to ask what level of emotional and intellectual connection is there with a typical horse.

Are they as smart as dogs? Do they have as much personality as cats? Or am I asking you to compare apples and oranges?

Morgan said...

Yeah, it is kind of apples and oranges. Cats live to use you. Dogs live to be used by you. A horse - well a good one at least - is like a part of you. Does that make sense? They don't generally have the aloofness of a cat or the slavish loyalty of a dog. They are very genuine and react to how they've been treated. If they've been treated well they are right there in your pocket and will give a hundred percent when you're working them. It's always amazed me how a horse will keep one ear forward to listen for sounds around him and one ear back to listen to me as a rider. An abused or mistrusting horse can be a dangerous thing. It will believe what it learned about humans until it has been taught otherwise. Our mare, Luna, had been abused and had a reputation for being dangerous, even though she's only about 38 inches at the shoulder. It took weeks to regain her trust, but as soon as she learned we weren't going to hurt her she revamped her whole view of humans. Not all horses are reachable, though. Sometimes the abuse takes them past a threshold from which they can never return and they are crazy dangerous. In that case it's best to put the horse down before it hurts itself or kill someone. They are prey animals, and will do what it takes to get away from a threat. If that means kicking a nearby kid through a wall that's what they'll do. And at that point it doesn't matter who put the horse where it is. It just is THERE and the risk is just too serious for an owner to take.
I will say that earning a horse's trust gives you the most amazing feeling. They aren't so easily bribed as cats and dogs. When you look into their eyes and see cooperation, it's like you're entering a partnership. There's a connection that's hard to explain. I hope I did...

thimscool said...

Success. That was interesting.