Well, I hopped out to the barn this last Wednesday. I have my daughter with me and its finally warm enough to get her back into lessons. I didn't want her out in the cold (she's only 3) over the winter so I cancelled lessons for a while. She can stay out in the cold longer when she's older. I scheduled a lesson for my daughter on Wednesday and also brought my younger sister out with me to try out a horse to lease while I was at it.
After I got my daughter re-introduced, I left her and the instructor (I've known the instructor for almost 20 years and trust her completely) to go retrieve Raina and my sister's future lease horse from the field. We hooked them up to the wall and started grooming...and mush to my complete happiness, Raina is finally blowing her winter coat. I kind of love shedding season because I love how I can just rake off all the fur and it just keeps on coming. I find it pretty fun.
After I groomed Raina real fast I went to go see how my sister was doing. We don't know a whole lot about the pony she pulled out, other than its a haflinger named Buddy and he has gone on loads of trail rides. I really just want a safe mount for her so we can go riding once in a while. He groomed fine and I picked out all 4 feet without a problem. I saddled Raina and left her standing before saddling Buddy and trying him out first for my sister.
My sister has been around horses off and on through the years and I'd call her an intermediate rider. Confident enough to try anything but smart enough to approach it cautiously. Though if Buddy was going to do something, I would rather he try it with me than my sister. I walk/trot/cantered him and he really has no breaks, but isn't out of control. He just wants to trot. Everywhere. The transitions were smooth in the aspect that he didn't challenge what was asked. He was just very strong when it came to stopping. After a couple minutes, I tightened his saddle and threw my sister up on him, and I got on Raina.
It was a ho-hum sort of day. She picked up contact rather pleasantly and she softened at the walk and trot. I asked her for the canter and she did it. Brought her back down and out of the corner of my eye I see this yellow thing while we were trotting, and it was my little sister right up my butt, trotting on the haflinger. It made me laugh. I haven't been trailed like that in YEARS. People usually get out of the way and keep their distance when I ride, but she was right up my butt and it made me laugh. No fear. Buddy didn't care, and Raina didn't care (she likes to pin her ears when someone gets too close). Leave it to my little sister to crowd me with no remorse or regard for personal space. Its been a long time since someone has purposefully tried to annoy me while on horseback. Made me laugh.
My daughter was done with her lesson and we rode around some more while she played in the sawdust. My sister really enjoyed Buddy and was working on his down transitions. At first I had to keep a pretty tight rein on him and haul on his face to get him to slow, but by the time she was done, he was walking with a slight loop in the rein. Still had to haul a but to stop him, but she was making progress.
Raina was being very cooperative. My sister even remarked about how she stood so still and calm while I rode Buddy. After my sister got off Buddy, she lifted my daughter up on Raina who stood stone still. She usually tries to walk off when being mounted, or eyes and sidesteps when someone wants to give me something while I'm in the saddle. She stood very still though and I got my daughter situated on the saddle infront of me. We walked two laps around the arena before I gave her back to my sister. Lets face it. I want to trust Raina, and I do trust Raina when it comes to me. But when it comes to my daughter, that's a whole different story. Two laps and I was done with the trust, even though she was very good for it and cooperated calmly. Better safe than sorry though.
On a side note, I have introduced Raina to sidestepping. We didn't practice on Wednesday but we have before and I just forgot to mention it. She's confused with it (or course) and isn't quite sure what the hell I'm asking. She seems to think I'm always asking her to do weird stuff. But after I got the legs to move laterally for one or two steps, I let her walk forward and she was actually trying to think it through instead of just fighting me for it like she usually does with something new.
My sister really liked Buddy. She thinks he's hilarious with his "plow horse" way of thinking for a body his size, but we want to take him on a trail ride before she signs any lease contracts so we know he'll go quietly.
Anyways, some pics!
My daughter during her lesson. She is on a lunge line
My sister on Buddy and me on Raina (ETA: Buddy's noseband was way too big for him. Its not tight at all and just sort of hung there. I connected it because we couldn't take it off the bridle and I couldn't have it flopping around)
My daughter, Rain and me
It was a lot of fun! I was in a saddle and I actually laughed...usually when I'm on a horse, all I can think about is work. But this was kind of a fun refresher. I remembered that I can be in the saddle and laugh too (especially when my sister is trying to catch me on a haflinger). My daughter has another lesson on Sunday and I'll be taking my niece with us so she can have a lesson as well. It'll be cool :)