Posts Tagged ‘English riding’

Giddyup Go!

On my first ride on Coco I failed to secure resources for photographic evidence of the event. I did not have this failure on the second event! I’ve spent the past month and a half gradually working her up to the big event of her first ride. Jaguar was the first ever horse I broke to ride all by myself. The method I used with him was based on a series of videos done by Roy Yates, an old cowboy. He did copious amounts of ground work with his young horses so by the time he rode them it was no big deal. I believe his methods to be sound, humane and effective and continue to weave them into my own.

I start by teaching the young horse to lunge, then add a surcingle which teaches them to accept the girth, then a bridle, then side reins, then a saddle with the bridle, and finally I ride them. You can tell a lot about a youngster by how they respond to the first time you tighten the surcingle. A highly sensitive horse will have a much stronger reaction than a more laid back animal. Sterling was very sensitive. Jaguar was kind of in the middle. Coco was VERY laid back. She has jumped up a little bit with the surcingle on and the saddle, but she’s never full on bucked. I hope this is a good thing!

Happy girl under saddle

Happy girl under saddle

The first time getting on a horse is always the scariest part for me. You have NO idea if they are going to jump out from under you, run away, start bucking, or just stand there. Never before had I done the first ride with an English saddle, either. Both of the western saddles I have are huge and it just didn’t feel right to ride her western. She was a perfect princess. She didn’t bat an eye lash when I put weight in the left stirrup and swung my right leg over. I had to sit for a minute and take deep breaths because I was so nervous. She, on the other hand, just stood chewing the bit.

When I work with the youngsters on the lunge line I teach them verbal commands to walk, trot, canter and stop. This helps them to make sense of what I want them to do on the first few rides when they have no idea what my legs are telling them. I clucked Coco forward on our second ride and just just walked on. I use my legs, too to teach them that pressure from my legs means go forward or faster. By the first few rides she will have figured out that leg pressure means go forward. A few more after that and she will trot from my leg instead of clucking. Cantering usually takes a bit longer, but it depends on the horse.

Learning to go forward among the goat menagerie

Learning to go forward among the goat menagerie

During our second ride we trotted in addition to walking. She was a bit confused and the pen I rode her in has a lot of trees so the lack of steering was kind of an issue! I have to be mindful to reward her every time she gives to the pressure of the bit to turn or stop, but not getting knocked off by a tree limb was important also!

Learning steering

Learning steering

All in all I’m absolutely tickled with how well our first two rides have gone. One can’t get overly complacent that the young horse is going to be easy peasy during every ride. I’m sure the first time we canter will be interesting, but I’m so grateful it is going as well as it is so far. It is exciting to have something to look forward to with Coco after the bad news about Jaguar. She won’t be ready to fox hunt for at least a year, but I hope to take her on some trail rides before the summer is over.

Awkward baby horse steering

Awkward baby horse steering

 

 

End of the Season

It’s always bittersweet to attend the last hunt of the season. I love the formality, but hate to see the season end. The first and last hunts are the most formal, at least they are with the hunt I’m a member. Horses are gussied up with baths and braids. There are usually more guests attending. The meal is a little fancier after the ride.

Thankfully the weather was warmer for closing than opening this season. I rushed home after work on Friday night to get Noelle bathed while the sun was still out.

Sudsy pony

Sudsy pony

I don’t think I’ve ever bathed Noelle before. It wasn’t her first bath, but I don’t think she loved it. She kept trying to get the hose in her mouth. I’m not sure if that was to play or just to get it away from me! Spring is shedding season so between her taking the hose away and all the hair flying around I was a filthy mess and she was squeaky clean.

All clean!

All clean!

I got up early the morning of the hunt to braid her mane. She was a patient girl and I just love how the horses look when they are all braided.

All dressed up

All dressed up

It rained a bit early on so we dressed our horses all up in sheets to keep our saddles dry before heading out.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

We had a great turnout for Closing. Most of our regular members as well as a few guests. It was an exciting end as we really got to see the hounds work. The scent was rising fast, but the hounds were on it! I learn more every season about the hounds and how our hound master guides them. Hopefully next year I’ll get to ride up with the hound master a few times.

Release the hounds!

Release the hounds!

Noelle was great. This is the first hunt season I’ve ridden her so you never know how the horse will react to the commotion. No matter how old or seasoned the horse they can have a strong reaction to the hounds or the other horses on the hunt. I rode with the Hilltopping group who traditionally ride on the hilltops and watch the faster groups. In reality we ride pretty close behind the first field, depending on the terrain of the property. In this photo the first field is in front of us. The field masters wear the red coats and we ride behind the masters. There is much tradition in the hierarchy of where people ride. Collar colors denote status as do buttons with the hunt’s initials. I’m at the very back of the group. Not because of the hierarchy, but because Noelle is kind of slow.

Closing Hunt 2014

Closing Hunt 2014

In a few weeks the hound show season will start. So, until November, this is the last hunt post! Tally ho, y’all!

Hilltoppers

Hilltoppers