no pictures yet ... We got home well after dark, and my focus was concentrated on unloading, settling Boss in, and getting the other four-leggeds well tended and loved.
I saw the ad on Dreamhorse, and my heart warmed. I remember the day Sam sent me a text before I drove up for a lesson. "Can we use your trailer after the lesson to go pick up a horse?" I remembered pulling up into the facility, and taking one look at Boss. My heart sank. He was thin, coat looked dull, and his eyes were sad. Sam insisted he was a well-trained dressage horse, and he was being given to her as a schoolmaster. Before I could dream of riding him, she whisked off to West Virginia for a few years, taking Boss with her. I saw some pictures, and some video later on. I smiled and felt warm - Boss looked awesome. Fat, sassy, gleaming coat, and happy eyes.
Sam has now returned to TX, a fact I have kept quiet until today. I've been working to get back into a lesson schedule with her, and we're nearly there on all the details. Sam listed Boss for sale, or "free lease to the right situation". I contacted her, and we made plans to meet up yesterday.
The ride was amazing. When I was wrong (body, hands, inner mental picture, anything), Boss was giraffe-head-high, and super short strided. I didn't longe him, I just mounted up and walked off. He isn't goofy, he doesn't seem to be bothered by much of anything. Lots of bend in, bend out, at the neck to stretch and warm him up (physically and mentally). Sam called this "positioning his head". Use one rein solid, then release, and see what answer he gives me. Alternate inside and outside rein, as well as inside and outside leg. We spent about ten minutes at the walk, on contact, and when I was determined he do it correctly, he was compliant.
Boss is a 2nd level Schoolmaster. Described as a true gentleman. He was polite on the ground, and a true teacher to ride. When I was correct, he was correct. When I was wrong, he showed it through his body. I will truly have to learn to "ride every step". I rode him through all three basic gaits, and know there is much more to come.
He has some quirks. A swayback from all his years working. Long (LONG) hooves that are going to require some attention. A habit of walking off at mounting if I don't pay attention. Too many years on draw reins, and as a result he turns into a giraffe from free walk to working walk. He doesn't like turnout, and will pace fencelines, working himself into a nervous frenzy without his "comfort box". Otherwise, he's truly patient. Sam sent me home with his bridle (HUGE), complete with a "baby bit" (o-ring french link snaffle), all the corrective pads the saddle fitters she used suggested, and a verbal free lease contract. (with R as a witness) I'm responsible for feed, hooves, any vet calls, and if for any reason, whether a problem or none, I can return him at any time. She "just wants him to have a happy life, and a job".
Me? I can't wait! My legs are going to become much stronger, I will learn to ride every stride, and I have a patient teacher to put up with me. I will have purposeful lessons with Sam, whether on Boss, or on Harley. The things Boss teaches me I can translate through to Harley, making him a better horse, too. My favorite part of the ride? From the walk to the trot, I couldn't seem to use enough leg. Sam went to retrieve a whip, and while she was gone, I thought in my mind, "Dang it! I can do this without that whip! C'mon YOU!" I kicked him hard, and apparently the kick, combined with my mind, Boss popped into a nice steady trot, and stayed there for a while. When Sam returned, she called out, "Good job! Atta girl! That's what we're looking for." Quickly, and true to her previous lessons, Sam immediately began calling out cues. "Inside rein. Don't forget your outside rein to make that strong wall. Use your legs.... Post the trot, squeeze every time you sit. Good! Right there!" I felt a collected trot I don't think I've ever ridden. True delight!