Yesterday’s lesson was interesting. Before the lesson started, I ran into Ivana, who stayed at the ranch later than normal. When I was going to go say hi to her, a pinto horse trotted past me. A horse trotted past me outside of a pasture or arena? Something didn’t seem right. I looked to the horse and I saw it was Jacey. Somehow, she had gotten out. Her leaser (or owner possibly?) then trudged past me, calling for her horse. The employees at the office were curious what was going on, which was how the horse chase started. Once Jacey noticed there were people pursuing her, she ran off to the barn, then to the pasture where the lesson horses live. After her galloping down the hill, they finally caught her and the 12:00 lesson could come up from the arena. Once everyone was off their horses, we were able to pick our horses for class.

Olga was about to ride Utah, when she noticed she already had said she would ride Cisco. Since she was not going to ride Utah, I decided, why not? I hadn’t ridden him in a long time, and I wanted to see if he had gotten any better.

The trainee brought Utah out, and I mounted him without any issue. The problem was when I was getting my stirrups shortened. Utah would toss his head and fidget while the trainee tried making my stirrups shorter. I shortened my reins and told him “ho”. The trainee shortened my other stirrup, with Utah spazzing out still. Christina told me to shorten my reins, which I did. My cinch was tightened, and I walked into the arena. While I was heading down, Christina yelled to me, “Shorten your stirrups, Vanessa.”

When I got into the arena, I turned into the middle and hopped off my tall horse. I walked around Utah’s front end, and set my stirrup for one hole higher. There was a new student in the class, so Christina explained: In this class, when you’re having saddle issues like a stirrup an incorrect length or a crooked saddle, you had to hop off your horse and fix it yourself.

What are you doing, Utah?

What are you doing, Utah?

I checked my stirrup length to see if it was still crooked, shortened my reins over Utah’s head, and awkwardly hopped on the sixteen hand tall horse without him walking off. I began to warm up, walking around the arena in both directions and then trotting both directions. Ow. His trot was very different from I remembered. It was kind of a mix of being bouncy, bumpy, and something unexplainable. His trot was probably the weirdest gait I ever felt on a horse.  Instead of sitting the jog, I decided posting his trot would be more comfortable.

Everyone finished their warmup, so we all walked counterclockwise. We loped one by one. On my turn, Utah picked up the incorrect lead, since he can’t pick up his left lead. I rode his awkward lope, where it was harder for him to make his turns because of being on his bad lead.

“Pick up your hand”

“Pick up your hand”

I kept pulling my hand up while riding and had to shorten my reins because of Christina’s distrust of Utah with long reins. Christina told me to halt Utah. I pulled my reins back, sat deep, and said ‘ho’. He slowed to a halt, and I backed him up one step. I walked him on the outside while waiting for the rest of the class to lope. We turned and changed directions to lope again. I was the last person to hope this time, This time, Utah picked up the correct lead, on his good lead. We loped a few circles, me being constantly reminded to pick my hand up again.

We walked our horses with long reins, practicing circling and reversing directions without using any reins. We practiced halting, and then turned to face the rail to practice side passing. I split my reins, opening the right side up while keeping Utah from turning his head to the right when I bumped him with my left leg. I continued to bump him with my leg, trying to have him step to the side. Utah would only back up until Christina came and helped by nudging him over to the right. Utah finally took a step to the right, and I took all pressure off of him and praised him for what he did.

Side passing

Side passing

Christina finished helping everybody side passing to the right, so we walked a circle around the arena and then tried side passing to the left. I tried getting him to side pass without help, except he still would only back up. Christina nudged him to the left again, until he took a step to the left. I took all pressure off of him gave him a huge praise, since he was not a horse who could do much lateral movement.

Once we finished our turn of side passing, we all turned to the center of the arena. We dismounted once everybody was done, and cleaned the arena of cones. I grabbed a cone, leading Utah with one hand. He followed me like a well trained horse would, which surprised me. Maybe he was only really wiggly when being ridden. I walked him around all of the students putting cones away, and led him up to the arena where somebody who loved Utah was. We talked for a short two to three minutes, and I handed off my horse to a trainee.

I went down back to the arena to talk to Christina about something Ivana and I had been discussing, and left the ranch.

Overall, I had a fairly successful lesson. I was able to sit Utah’s weird jog, I was able to ride Utah efficiently with decent form, and I was able to ground mount without any issues. The only issues I noticed during the lesson was that I couldn’t keep my feet in the stirrups, and I kept pushing my hand down while loping.

No, we're not loping. We're actually trotting in this photo.

No, we’re not loping. We’re actually trotting in this photo.

Grumpy Pony!

Grumpy Pony!


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