Reflecting on horses in 2016

I started riding horses back in January 2007, so it has been 9 years this year. Crazy. I graduated college in 2006 and thought about staying in crew. I almost joined Riverside Boat Club in Cambridge but got scared off by the cost and time. I was working in Cambridge and my cubicle neighbor owned a couple horses. I started riding at Harmony Horse Stables in Littleton MA. I still remember my first lesson on a chestnut thoroughbred named Penny Lane. There have been quite a few horses since, Flora & Squirt, Jolie & Ivy, Gemma, Acoya, Sterling, Sofie, Derby…..etc etc πŸ™‚

When I was reflecting on my year, I couldn’t help thinking about horses. I moved this year up to NH and had to leave my barn, Orchard Hill Equestrian Center, where I had been riding since 2010. I started riding at OHEC for a mare named Cheval, Chevie for short. She was a huge white percheron/TB cross that I leased for about a year. She was sold and then I basically have just been riding school horses ever since. This past May, a very special horse became a school horse named Beau. He was/is my dream horse. Forward with a big floaty trot, rhythmic rocking horse canter. He’s a big Oldenburg, early teens. Ground manners and manners on the cross ties aren’t great but he is perfect under saddle. I actually just heard on Friday night that two instructors have sadly labeled him as an unsafe liability because of his ground manners. The real issue is that becoming a school horse has led to some bad habits. He has learned that because of his size, his beginner/inexperienced riders are scared off when he makes a big fuss on the cross ties. It is unfortunate because what I see is a horse that would really benefit from a consistent, confident rider…not a rider who shows up for their one ride a week that doesn’t want to deal with a problem horse. The life of a school horse.

When I moved, I was so sad to leave my barn and all the amazing friends I had made there and become accustomed to seeing every week. The family that owns that barn is very near and dear to my heart. I love going down to MA to see them. When I was going through my divorce, I actually lived in one of the apartments on the property while we sorted out housing. These people are seriously solid people. I was also sad to leave Beau, wondering what the next horse I would find to ride would be like.

I ended up hitting the jackpot. I found a small quiet farm near the new house and the horse I have been riding since September is named Chandraki. He is a Georgian Grande; an interesting breed that is half friesian, a quarter saddlebred, and a quarter draft, in Draki’s case his grandfather was a percheron. He is safe, likes the ring and the trails, and is a beautiful mover. The catch is he can be lazy, and he can be a bully. He has really forced me to be an assertive rider that uses spurs and a dressage whip when he isn’t listening. This assertiveness has been tough for me, a person who usually shies away from confrontation. Not surprisingly, this new attitude while riding has bled in my life a little, making me a more confident and assertive person. When faced with adversity, I can’t help but think, hey, I pay someone to fight with a 1000+ lb animal….what do you got!?

I have learned so much about riding, and really myself from riding Chandraki. This weekend we took a lesson with Adam Cropper, a dressage trainer who helped Chandraki’s owner when she first got him. It was a really great ride for us, and a great confidence booster for me. Oh and of course Chandraki is so handsome and extremely respectful yet affectionate on the ground…so there’s that πŸ™‚ His owner has used him for eventing as well as fox hunting, and he has a real talent for dressage. I am hoping he will be one of the best parts of 2017. We’ll see!

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2 thoughts on “Reflecting on horses in 2016

  1. It’s always difficult having to tear yourself away from horses that have become very dear but it looks like you have ended up with a gorgeous chap! Each horse seems to help us learn and develop our skills, not just equestrian skills but as you highlighted – life skills.

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