Borrowed Knickers- and other college equestrian problems
I told myself if I finished my Mechanics of Materials Homework I'd make a journal for Nick. Well the homework is done so here we are.
Nick is a 9 or 10 year old Arabian/ German Riding pony. He's about 14 hh give or take an inch, but hes not big by any means. He is however round. so round.
A brief history:
in 2015 i finished Highschool and moved to MT for school. I found a dressage barn in dillon and though broke, the Barn owner and trainer agreed to let me ride Nick and a few others since she was trying to sell him. I'd visited the school over spring break before I graduated, bought a lesson from her, and rode a little paint mare of whom the best that can be said is that she was a very compliant potato with legs. after the lesson, the trainer suggested I come the next day and just ride her little arab cross gelding. I said alright.
the next day I showed up and was told he was in the far pasture and that he was hard to catch. Lo and behold, I caught him in moments (a trend that has NOT continued, you practically have to go rope the bugger to get him in) and brought him in. tacked up with a saddle too narrow and a bit and bridle probably best meant for a shetland. "Nicolas" was not high on her list of horse priorities. At 14 hh he was too small for most riders and as I would come to find out he had a nasty habit of bolting and dumping riders.
I learned later from a friend who boarded there before me that the trainer herself had ridden him once after he'd been started, and he took off at a bolt, bucked and bucked then she slid off and beat his face with a crop. He probably deserved what he got- but irregardless its no way to train a horse. after her, shed had several riders try and stick him, but he dumped and intimidated most.
at the time, I knew none of this. he was a round dumpling, with a face like an upset but cute toddler and cute little ears. I thought he was wonderful. I led him to the arena, and I dont lunge, because I often find it a waste of time on broke horses, so i lead him up to the mounting block and hop on. The trainer is sitting on her FEI type horse and will be riding at the same time.
I get one leg over and my butt into the tack when he explodes. Nick is actually an unimpressive bucker, though he is a committed one when he feels like it- especially then. No funky twists or jumps, just a bit of a hump to the back, and a head and neck buried between his forelegs. At the time, I had been riding a lazy TB, back home, who had a similar habit when asked to work so i applied the same technique I used with him to Nick- Kick the crap out of them until they stop bucking and open up into a gallop and then wait for them to stop. 'cause you know- my leg means forward... its a training technique. Step one worked great. Step 2 lasted about 20 minutes. Once in a gallop, Nick was thrilled. He has no bottom and is always thrilled to run. The trainer- schooling in the middle of the ring while we tore racetrack laps around just laughed and called "Yeah just canter him out for a bit, he hasnt been ridden in 6 months!" which would have been lovely information to know BEFORE i got on. But hindsight is 20/20.
When we finally slowed down and I got to try walk and trot I was smitten. His trot was powerful and floaty. It was the second most quality gait I'd ever sat (the first being a 4yo warmblood I worked for about a year during my junior year of highschool) Unfortunately talent was not organized, he was a snaky, fat, undermuscled mess. he leaned something horrible (still does a little bit) and was so dropped in the back it was ridiculous. I thought he was incredible.
I left the barn that day with my mom thinking- that was the best horse I think Ive ridden, it's too bad I could never buy him, I think he could take me up the levels. At the time, the idea that I would buy a horse was taboo.
Fall came, and I excercised and trail rode him as much as possible, I met my best friend and her QH gelding at that barn and we rode together all the time. I helped her a little with her QH who was 4 and green and she kept us company on the trail- that was full of terrifying things for a dainty flighty arabx. It was lovely. The trainer was okay. I didnt ride lessons with her often, because she was very busy, but shed give us pointers. They were not bad lessons. I do not agree with some of her techniques- half halts that were so much jerk on the mouth it was upsetting to get a collected canter. But she had ridden grand prix, so I listened and learned what I could and tossed out what I didnt like or didnt agree with. Looking back, I think I could have known that she was never going to make us what I wanted to be, but i was blinded by infatuated pony eyes and this was my one source of "horse"
It was february when I bought him, I was 18, I called my parents. there was a week of drama. and in the end I coughed up $6000 for a relatively green pony that I had done most of the training on. It happened like this. A woman came and tried him, wanted to buy him, and I couldnt bear to part with him. so I paid too much but had a pony. I have mostly come to peace with this.
I boarded there a little while longer, but it was $250 for pasture board, so in short form we moved twice and eventually I ended up out at my boyfriend's parents ranch paying $50/month to board. This worked well and gave me the opportunity to make my horse 'grow up' Ranch life is wonderful for horses. Long days in the saddle, somehow enough miles to gallop that even he got tired. His brain matured. he got quieter on the trail, quieter in his being and we were able to address some of his issues. The dressage however was hard, and he struggled in a way that didnt make sense so I mostly ignored it, decided he needed to just get his feet under him and we rode the mountains and the hills for a few years.
I transferred schools, discovered horse chiropractics when one was brought out to the barn I boarded at, and promptly sold my favorite saddle because the chiropractor said it didnt fit. He was right. I rode bareback for 7months and about 3 weeks ago finally got a saddle that fit us both- a stubben Laurus wide tree.
I am at MTech for school and Nick will be joining me this weekend. which I am very excited for. The plan is to push him. To up his grain and protein intake, to trot eight million cavaletti, get him to move upright, gain control of his flying changes, and get good at laterals. I hope that recording rides and progress on this journal will help us achieve this goal. There are some incredible insightful people on this forum and its as far as I can tell the most supportive horse community ever.
okay. pictures of pony dearest.
Last edited by lostastirrup; 08-30-2018 at 11:52 AM.
Reason: paragraph breaks are nice.