A few weeks before he left on his Caribbean holiday, The Instructor purchased a couple of mares from an auction. One of these horses, Abby, was actually purchased for a lady who recently lost her horse to a chronic illness. Abby was lovely and, after spending 30 minutes grooming her, if she had been available I would have purchased her – it would have been a HUGE mistake, but I would have purchased her! She was gentle, loving, very pretty and had big liquid brown eyes. She was very polite when she was being groomed; the complete opposite of GM. I did not have to do the Chicken Dance with Abby. She loved the attention. She was also young – 6 years old, compared to GM’s 20 years of experience.
Abby was being used for some lessons. This was to help burn off some of her energy and to socialize her. I was to ride her during my Wednesday evening class through the winter months. I was thrilled!
She was slightly smaller than GM. She stood very nicely when I mounted, and allowed me to get comfortable. She was pleasant! "Walk on!" She sort of pranced. I wasn't used to all of the movement, but it was nice. "TA-rot!" I applied a whisper of leg contact and....she was off! She was unable to break into a canter because of all of the other riders in the arena (thank God!), but she started passing the others in the arena doing a very fast, extended trot. It probably would have looked quite impressive if it hadn't been for me bouncing around on top of her like a rag doll. Thank goodness for sports bras! The Instructor was not impressed. The yelling and arm waving started.
As much as I was excited to be riding a horse other than GM, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I could not continue riding Abby. Even with learning how to "Milk the Cow" it was a challenge. Abby just wanted to run.....all the time! Milking the cow helped, but it wasn't the solution and I certainly wasn't the person qualified to help her transition into a "broke" horse. She was not push-button like GM. I found that I spent the whole lesson just trying to keep Abby under control. It wasn’t pleasant for me and I am sure it wasn’t pleasant for her. I felt frustrated and inadequate.
Riding Abby was a really important learning experience for me. If Abby had been available, I would have purchased her basically on how pretty she was! I would have spent a lot of time being frustrated and she would not have benefited from my lack of experience. Riding her made me realize that your horse companion must be suited to your current AND future abilities. Having a horse companion is a 20+ year commitment, so you need to be able to enjoy and challenge each other for the duration. I was also able to see, first-hand, the difference between an older, experienced, broke horse and a young, feisty, green-broke one.
I went back to riding GM for both of my weekly lessons. It was a relief to get back into the routine with her. It wasn’t fulfilling, but I knew what to expect. My experience with Abby did, however, make me realize that I wanted more from the riding experience.
What was I thinking……?