Well, it's more like a wild English canter without collection.. He's got more than enough forward energy.. =)
Here's my chaotic Sunday - the past two have been like this. So much for "resting"...
8:00am - My church, choir sang
9:40am - Conversation with random lady at Starbucks' parking lot (details to follow)
10:45am - Co-worker's church, good stuff! Much more like the one I spent my high school & college days in, and less like where I'm at. I wish it wasn't 45 minutes away from home... I'd be there all the time.
12:00pm - Lunch with Co-worker & family
2:00pm - Scrambled to Les' to change into jeans & boots, then headed to the arena
2:30 - 3:15pm - Rode Romeo (details to follow)
4:00pm - Leashed Kenzie, and off to
4:30pm - 5:30pm - Obedience class
Got home, fed the masses, fed myself, asleep on the couch by 9:00pm, exhausted.
Now, for the details. Sometimes, I wonder why I get that occupied some weekends, while others, I am sitting at home, on the couch, eating snacks I shouldn't be, watching the same TV shows I always watch.
After the first church service, I had time to kill, and decided I'd hop over to Starbucks, fetch me a frozen skinny sugar-free latte, and ease on to the second service (45 minutes away). A lady was getting out of a little car, staring intently at my truck. I thought, "Yes, this is a big truck, driven by a little person, for the purpose of hauling horses. I know I'm poisoning the environment, but I can't afford a cheaper car too right now."
The lady said to me, "That's a dressage sticker on the back of your truck. Do you ride?"
I responded, "Yep, but that horse's on light work right now."
She said, "You're probably going to think I'm completely nuts, and a little weird, but I'm going to ask anyways... A friend and I are going trail riding this afternoon. Would you like to come with us? If you can ride like that, you're probably a pretty good rider."
Holy tar.. whatta brave lady she is!
I responded, "Wow. I'd love to, but the horse I'd bring along is in Port Lavaca in boot camp, and I've got plans to go ride him this afternoon. Thank you."
She said, "Can I give you my phone number? Would you like to come along another time? I haven't met a single other person yet that rides dressage. Well, that's not true. Do you know __?"
I said, "Yep. I met her while she was taking lessons from ___."
She said, "Yeah, I took a lesson with ___. But it ended badly, with my daughter getting a broken collar bone. Bad, bad experience for both of us. Why did you quit taking lessons from her?"
"Too intense. Way too serious for the leisure level I want to ride at. I love dressage, but I've got some fears to overcome, and she just couldn't understand why I wouldn't just get over it & ride."
"Well, here's my number. Here's some pictures of my horse, the ladies I ride with & their horses, and of the trails where we go. It's not far from here, about 20 minutes." (Really, about 15 from my house."
Wow. What a conversation. It lasted about 10 minutes, I found out she rides a 19YO OTTB mare, Molly. They trail ride, and casually ride some dressage. She refuses to ride without a helmet, and works for a local college in the arts department. I may have a trail buddy! How cool is that?! I also didn't know the state park up the street from me had riding trails. Nifty cool! Romeo will LOVE it!
The ride on Romeo. Whatta Pony Whatta Pony! Holy tarfeathers. Les has him in a TT bit, with an interesting curb chain (a small chain that came out of a hardware store... not the chains in the tack stores.. an interesting contraption, but it doesn't apply pressure unless you really pull on it). Les rode first.. I noticed right up front that Romeo canters out without much fuss. The silly "buggy trot" is almost gone. Les transitions him from walk right into canter. He doesn't have his leads just right, but I am guessing that's because no effort is put into leads right now, but more into that he's at least cantering. He rode him all on neck reining, and put his hand on Romeo's neck for a "whoa". His trot was soft, and figure-eights were pretty relaxed.
We switched saddles. I climbed on, did a little walk, a little trot, and then asked Les, "You got 9-1-1 on speed dial? Here goes nothing." Les says, "He's not going to hurt you, or I would've not let you lope him yet. Just go do it." I walked him past the roping boxes, leaned forward, squeezed with both legs, and gave him a little "kiss kiss" sound. He went from walk, about three strides of trot, and cantered away. I worked him through canter sets four times. The first three, I held onto the saddle horn with a death-grip (evidenced by the small blister on my left hand... HAH!). I went the whole rail around, as well as circles at the far end, and a few in the middle. He didn't get fast, but did try to break gait, as well as tried to ignore the neck rein. I was actually calm, didn't get nervous, and didn't have a problem adding outside leg to make him turn. The fourth canter out, I did let go of the horn, and held on to a wad of blue jeans instead (I'm sure it looked silly, but I was balanced rather than holding on.) He broke gait once, and I legged him back into it. It's fast... is all I can say. It's controlled, but fast. He tosses his head if I keep too much rein pressure, and as soon as I let slack in the reins, he slowed down a bit, and relaxed his neck.
To finish up the ride, I wanted to push the steers around the outside of the arena a bit. Les said to me, "Okay, but you must lope down to them." And I did, Holy FAST! Romeo's got cow-cow-cow in him. He cantered pretty quickly down to them. He still had brakes when we got close, but he cantered a few strides too close to them. I wrangled them all together, and trotted while moving them around. We did that for a few minutes, then I cantered him back to the "out gate".
He's got a few more weeks, so Les tells me. It's still amazing what he's picked up in two weeks of riding (with a week of Hurricane-break in the middle). He went from not cantering at all, and complete disregard for neck reining, to all cantering, and a healthy respect for the neck rein. I'm anxious to get some cows in the arena, and have the courage to lope out towards one to cut it away from the herd. He's very cow-y. Something I didn't expect when I bought him. Nifty Neat!