Not this Saturday. I got a text from a new friend, KM, asking if Saturday would be a good day to come out and meet my boys. For a split second, I remembered how much work needs to get done on Speedy before our first show of the year and thought about saying no. But then I realized that taking it easy for one day might actually do Speedy some good.
People never take me up on that offer, so I was a bit surprised to hear from her this past week. She had mentioned that she'd taken a few lessons at Los Angeles Equestrian Center and that she occasionally rides with a friends up in Bear Valley. I hate to offend, so when people say they can "ride," I always nod politely and act like they've been to the Olympics.
People who spend a lot of time in the saddle have a way of communicating their riding ability without needing to say much. We jump 2'6", I show at Second, we've completed a couple of 100 milers, we just did a 14 second barrel run over the weekend ... In just a few short words, you know those people can handle just about any well trained horse on a 45 minute trail ride. Outside of that, it can be kind of risky if your horse is only well trained and not dead broke.
As they followed the fence toward the far end of the arena, she quickly called out that he was too much for her and that she thought she should get off. He had coiled himself up and was getting quite tense. I hate to see someone get off out of fear, so I quickly led Archie down to Speedy and had her head back toward the gate.
I encouraged her to ride a small circle around me and Archie, but I gave her a few small directions. I showed her how to bend him to the inside and sponge the inside rein. Once Speedy had some bend, I instructed her to use her outside rein to slow down his run-away walk. He was simply unbalanced and tense because of it.
Almost immediately, he relaxed, and his walk got much prettier. KM felt it, and the tension left her body as well. After walking both directions, she felt confident enough to pick up a rising trot. She was able to change her posting diagonal and keep Speedy on the circle.
By then, KM had been in the saddle for an hour and a half and was ready to be done; Speedy, too. KM thanked me for not letting her get off while she was scared. I was really impressed with her ability to be honest about how she felt, and because of her honesty, I think she added a bit more knowledge to her riding toolbox.
I hope she comes back to ride with us again; even if it's a Saturday.