My phone goes off. It is my friend who wants me to come out to her property on the other side of town in order to try out her new horse, a TB/QH. Sure, I think, that sounds like fun. It's been a long time since I got to ride two horses in a day, plus I haven't seen her new barn yet. I tell her I'll just untack and be right over.
I pull up in the drive and she waves at me and starts showing me around her new place. It's nice, but it needs some work. But I like it overall. She leads me back out to where the horses are. There are only two, her new guy and an old, super grumpy retired TWH who pins her ears at whoever gets close enough. (I pet her anyway). So we tie up her gelding and tack him up. I first try him out in the tiny arena. He does ok. He is smooooooth tho. Easy transitions, but I can already see he's got issues: doesn't like a short rein but will take advantage of a long one. Doesn't turn/flex well at all. Is super stubborn. Doesn't like his left lead. Still, what can one expect after just getting a horse. Not going to be perfect right away. It'll take time.
She smiles at me and says she is happy that we got the left lead twice. I nod and tell her I see what she likes him-and I do. He is a good boy, just needs to learn his manners and some other things. She asks if I want to take him out on the trail.
The trail, hmm? Well. He is supposedly spook-free and does well out there, just gotta give him a loose rein. But there is only one horse. She says she will walk on the trail. And I can just trot or do whatever. Well ok then. Sure. Why not. You only live once, right? I should have known then. I should have listened to that little voice that was telling me , "two horses is enough for one day. Trails are bad. Don't go on the trail. Stay here in the nice, safe arena. You loovveeee arenas." But I told the voice to shove it, it was to nice a day to stay in a small circle.
And off we went. And it was all fine and dandy at first. Oh yes, the birds were singing, there was a nice breeze, only a few fluffy white clouds, and the lovely ambiance of the mare screaming her head off for him to come back. Yes, the mood was just perfect. So we trot. And it is a nice trot. Smooth, not to bouncy, easy to post, not to quick. And we leave my friend behind. Way behind.
Ah, I think to myself. We are nearing a large bend in the path, might be a good idea to turn back now. He seems a little sweaty since he is out of shape. Well, ok then. We shall head back. Hmm....heading home. What did they teach you? Rule number one: Do. Not. Canter. Home.
But what of my friend way off in the distance? What was it she told me? "Oh I know I shouldn't let him, but sometimes we canter back to the barn." Hmm. Well, he is doing ok, doesn't seem to barn sour, doesn't seem to eager to get back. Maybe a bit when he neighs back for her, but ok. If sshe does this all the time, I'm sure it'll be alright.
Cue canter. Cue stupitiy! And OFF. WE. GO! That horse shot out like he had just left the gate on the track. And for the first 50 feet it was really fun. I've galloped before. Its fun. But it has been a few years and I forgot just exactly how dang fast it can be. And then, if it was even possible, he went faster still. At this point I'm sort of clutching the reins in a death grip and decide enough is enough. We still aren't even close to my friend, nor the barn, but we can walk. Or we can try to slow to a walk. And by we, I mean me. He ignored every little move I made. I screamed at him to ho, walk, slow down, sea sawed on his mouth, everything. But that just made him run harder. And before I realize it, we've passed my friend. Actually, I don't even remember passing her at all. But I know we did.
Part of my brain was thinking "OMG this is so much fun! It is like racing a real race horse!" I might also add that her saddle was beyond uncomfortable and also due to his gait I'm pretty much in jockey position, or at least a rock solid death gripped two point. Sitting down was just not an option. And the wild, adventure side of me kept bouncing around with the rational side, which kept saying "STOP THIS HORSE!" which is nothing but words because he was not about to stop. That side of me realized just how dangerous this horse really was. I mean, really, there is bucking a rearing, but that can be ridden out and tamed more or less easily. A galloping horse that is stubborn and does what he wants and won't stop? Hello death, how are you today? So there I am, hauling on him to stop, part of my brain telling me I should just jump from his back, part of it telling me that is the most fun I've had all year, then the rational side saying turn him to slow him down. I didn't end up doing that as I felt the path didn't allow for a wide enough turn radious. I could think of that, but for some reason attemping a one-rein stop never occured to me.
And of COURSE there is a sharp bend coming up with a full gallop horse. I'm not even sure what happened. Somehow that bend was right near the pasture where the mare was, and by some grace of God, we rode thought it and then he decided to listen to me and slow down to a trot in which I basically stopped him and lept from his back. Yeah. Welcome home. My fingers were pretty much curled from the death grip on the reins.
I ended up walking him back to my friend and all I did was hand her the reins, and say "THAT was a true gallop." And she just told me she thought for sure I'd fly off his back at any second. But I didn't. Guess I'm a better rider than I give myself credit for.
Needless to say, i'm pretty sure I've mastered the two point now.