Different horses = problems riding?
I rode my mare the other day after riding my gelding for ages... Normally, my mare and I are on great terms... We’ve got a great bond and I can usually ride her extremely wel, because I know all of her quirks and how she acts... but the other day when we rode, it was like... I felt like I was a beginner and she was an untrained filly. She’s 15 and has been my mare for about 6 or 7 years now and she’s been my main and virtually only riding horse for quite a few years up until last year when I started training my gelding.
Anyway, my girl is very headstrong and stubborn. She’s a very fast paced horse... if we trot, she immediately wants to canter, and from a canter, she wants to run... She’s got very fast gaits. She doesn’t ride in a bit, but a hackamore. She has a slight bucking habit, but it’s never anything more than a few kicks or crowhops each ride... she doesn’t do it to get me off, she does it because she’s in high spirits or is having fun. Normally, she and I have lots of fun on our rides and we seem to know each other so well that a lot of the time, it’s like she’s responding to what I think rather than what command I give her and vice versa. However, our last ride was... not fun. Half of the ride she was bucking and I felt horribly off-balance. It seemed as though she was angry with me, and for the life of me I could not keep my balance on her... I either kept riding ahead of her or she kept leaving me behind to hurry and catch up, and when I ‘caught up’, she would slam on the brakes and lock her neck and jig, swerve, and zig-zag all over the place. I felt really frustrated, because I was trying my best to do right, and it wasn’t working... and because I was frustrated, she was frustrated. We did canter some, and a little bit, right before we got home, we ‘clicked’ and got back onto our normal track... but this was after a two hour ride of nothing but frustrations. My girl is also a bit slimmer than my Dakota.
I got to thinking about it and realized that I may be too used to my gelding... I’ve ridden him a lot more than I’ve ridden my mare recently. My gelding is the complete opposite of my mare, even though they’re mother and son. Where my girl is headstrong and stubborn, Dakota is not... unless he really doesn’t want to do something, and even then, he’ll end up and do it anyway. Where Gypsie is a fast paced horse, Dakota is not. Dakota would rather walk than anything else... He trots fine, but never gets fast and he would rather slow down than speed up. He also responds to neck reining and leg cues, where my girl only responds halfway to neck reining and is more used to direct reining and doesn’t know anything about leg cues. Where my mare is very... heavy on the forehand (I think that’s the right term...) my Dakota is the lightest horse I’ve ever ridden. Riding my boy, it feels like there’s almost no contact, and with my mare, she tends to lean against the hackamore a bit.
I know that my issues with my horses isn’t due to the tack... they both use the same saddle (I can’t afford one for Dakota right now), and only their bridles is different. Dakota wears a straight snaffle with a port and Gypsie wears a hackamore.
I jumped on my boy bareback for a few minutes earlier, then jumped on my mare... and with Dakota, I felt so natural and comfortable... and with my mare, I felt kinda... awkward... which I never feel when I ride her...
Is there a way to keep myself used to both of my horses without feeling off balance on one and more comfortable on the other? Do I just need to ride them both about the same...? Truth be told, I love riding my 3 year old... and my mare, but my girl already knows how to ride pretty well and I’m still working on some things with Dakota. What can I do?
Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)