Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saw My Chance and Lassoed It

G&N have these two horses, Strider and Palantir, who are young (maybe four and five), and have been trained, but haven't been ridden much, if at all, in the last couple years. I've had a secret hankering to try and ride these horses ever since they came to the neighborhood, in part because they remind me of my three-year-old quarter horse, Snappy, from my childhood, who was trained, and ridden, but still pretty young and exuberant (shall we say). And in part, I admit, because people who know better think they're probably unsafely wild and unpredictable at this point.

K&A don't ride these horses, they have three of their own of course; and G&N have an inhuman amount of work to do just to survive on their mountaintop, and so they don't really have time to ride them.

But they've been sitting there in the muddy front corner pasture, whinnying at the other horses and desperate to relieve their boredom with breakfast hay and dinner hay, and today I decided I would do it: I would ride one of them. I admit I poked around in G&N's shed to find the bridles, and I brought both down with me after letting the dogs out for the day.

I chose Palantir because he's slightly smaller and just has a friendlier demeanor—I've always felt that he likes me—caught him pretty easily with a carrot and the promise of something different, haltered him and led him out. He stood quite patiently tied to the fence outside on a long enough rope that he could graze; he let me curry and brush him, and he let me pick one hoof, then that was enough of that.

I took him up to the Garage Mahal to bridle, thinking that he'd better be standing over gravel if I was going to keep his attention, and decided there that I'd just put the bridle over the halter and not ever let him completely free, lest he skip away and I never catch him again. I was calm, he was wary, but after a dozen or so tries I got the bit in his mouth and the headstall over his ears, and we were good to go. I removed the halter lead rope from under the bridle, led him by the reins down to where I'd left my helmet and put it on, then stood him on the side of the driveway where I had a couple inches extra height to jump up to his back.

I leaned on him first, put some pressure on him, draped my arms over him, then jumped on. He was perfectly calm, and allowed me to ride him around the yard for the next ten minutes or so—just what I wanted!

He was, understandably, eager to eat any grass he saw under his feet, so we kept mainly to the drive up the hill and the gravel in the yard, but he was responsive, didn't try to run away with me, and quite happily snuffled in my hair and neck after I called it a day and put him away (after, of course, ten minutes of just grazing on the new grass in the yard, at the end of a lead rope, no more pressure to behave).


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