The less-than-great news first: Tristan continues to be slightly off, in slightly weird ways, all still (seemingly) connected to that left front. He’s on the list for the lameness vet for next week, and he’s getting regular in-barn evaluations in the meantime.
That left open the question of what to do with my standing Friday lesson spot; for a few weeks, that was changed over into a deep grooming session. I have a requirement to use one “service” each week as part of my board, so why not?
Two weeks ago, though, the barn manager (who serves as trainer while the main trainer is in Florida) texted me and asked if I wanted to ride Crumble in my lesson, to which my reply was a hugely enthusiastic YES.
For those who aren’t familiar with Crumble, or more officially Abercrombie, he belongs to fellow blogger Emilie, who is our barn’s main trainer’s barn manger and assistant trainer. Crumble stays in Vermont with us during the winter, teaching lessons and being adorable. (For those who didn’t know we share a barn, surprise! I try to keep my blog fairly narrowly focused on my own journey as a rider and horse owner and part of that means not sharing too much about others at my barn, partly for privacy concerns and partly because it doesn’t feel fair to me to put people on the internet.)
Crumble is many things that Tristan is not: smaller, for one, but also a different breed (Haflinger) and build (much more solid), and, of course, much, much, MUCH better trained. (They are similar in other ways, though; both have clear and distinct personalities, both are very easy to handle, and both are generally cheerful around people.)
I’m still chewing over lots of the things that I’ve learned after just two rides, but my chief takeaway is this: it feels really, really good to know that I can be good at riding horses. I generally think of myself as a mediocre-to-poor rider; there are some things I can do (sit a buck and grit through, mainly) and so many things that I cannot, especially not with any finesse.
You can imagine it was revelatory and quite nice to sit on Crumble and get ready to struggle and…not. Oh, I don’t mean for a second that I magically became a brilliant rider, but all of a sudden having a willing and educated dance partner felt…amazing. I could ask for things, and get them, and learn that I did know how to ask for them. I could use my seat and learn that I DO have a mobile and communicative seat. I could rely on him to keep a gait and then experiment within that gait, and have a conversation of which one side wasn’t entirely fuck you, no. I don’t want to flatter myself too much, but the barn manager said a few times that she was struck by how well he was going even in my first ride and that usually people take longer to figure him out. We clicked quite nicely, and I have really, really enjoyed him.
It’s also incredibly useful to be able to quickly pinpoint things that are either bad habits from Tristan (inside leg in the canter, I’m looking at you) or simply personal weaknesses that show up obviously in both horses (left hip flexor, you suck).
I don’t know how long this will last – obviously I want my own horse to be sound again! – but I am enjoying the hell out of it in the meantime.