Torn calf muscle be damned I got on my pony and got 'er rode! Hot damn! WHOOP!!!
(I'm obviously a wee bit excited to deliver this news!)
What a journey! Four and half years of waiting!
When we bred Abby back in Spring of 2010 I hoped for filly that I could raise and train myself. And from that first photo I knew my dreams had come true...
That sweet eye stole my heart. The day after she was born I flew out to Spokane, WA to meet my little red girl. She stepped forward from Abby's side and everything about that bright, open, and honest expression seemed to say, "Hello!". Hence the name "Hola".
Do you know how agenizing it was to watch this filly grow up in super slow motion? I had hoped to start her as a two-year-old. I had hoped to put some light rides on her in the Spring, some work in the Fall and then really get riding her in the Spring of her three-year-old year so we could show in the Fall. I didn't want her pushed at anywhere close to a competitive level but if I had even some simple/basic maneuvers on her I could take her in a few beginner/novice classes to get her that exposure. That was not meant to be.
In the Spring of 2013 Hola came two. She was 13.2HH and 700 pounds. And fine boned for all that. I was *most definitely not inserting my weight here* about 25 pounds heavier than I am today. There was no way. Even if I could find a light weight trainer to start her, she just wasn't ready mentally. To wait for her was not a prolem...the much bigger problem (pardon the pun) was the reality that Hola was probably going to finish at 14HH and 800 pounds, much too small for me.
In the Spring of 2014, when Hola turned three, I gave up hope. As a child I had wished for a pony. Twenty years later, I got one. There was no way I could get small enough for her. And so, I contacted a trainer I know to be an incredible horseman, a woman with a big, generous and spiritual heart, who just happened to be really tiny in stature. I asked her if she might be interested giving Hola a good home. The stars seemed to align. It killed me to give up my dream but to see such a talented little filly sit in a field unused was just not an option. When I put Hola on the trailer and said goodbye I thought my heart was going to burst. I missed her horribly and wondered if I had made a huge mistake but every time I came close to emailing my friend and asking for her back, I would think of all of her energy and talent going to waste and I would remember why I had let her go. Hola had been gone for two weeks when I received an email saying that her new "Mom" had come off one of her training horses and fractured a vertebrae and done some damage to her tailbone. As a professional trainer this meant being out of work. As she had not yet even started working with Hola and as she knew I was missing her desperately, it was an easy decision to send her home. Not three weeks after she left, I got Hola back. And I resolved that, come hell or high water, I was keeping Hola for good- I would do what I could to loose weight, I would wait the extra year for Hola to mature more physically and if all else failed I would learn to drive and put her to work behind a cart.
Fast forward 6 months. Hola grew. I shrank. She is now 14HH and 850 pounds. I am *most certainly not inserting my weight here* considerable smaller. I didn't think I would be able to get on her this Fall after I tore my calf muscle but...
On Saturday I got on Abby and my leg felt good. I threw a saddle on Hola for the first time in a month and ponied her out in the hay field. She was full of piss and vinegar. So I came back to the barn and tied her to the wall and left the little brat there for a good half hour to think about her attitude. Sure enough, she was in a better frame of mind so I turned her loose in the round pen and sent her to work. I expected her to buck and fart and act like an idiot. She didn't. Hola was soft, light, respectful and just had this beautiful and relaxed energy. I realized that she was just so happy to be back at work. I told L. that I was just dying to get on her. She said, "If not now, when?" I said, "When I don't have a torn calf!" I knew I was going to get in BIG trouble at home when K found out but the extra naughtiness made it all the more tempting! Rebel without a cause, I am!
So we brought out a stool and I laid over Hola's back. L. lead me around while Hola got used to packing my weight. I then stood up in the stirrup and put on hip on her. She stood. I stepped down. I stepped back up and swung my leg over. She looked back at me like "what the hell are you doing!?" and tensed up in her poll a little but didn't hump her back and didn't move forward. I stepped off. Stepped back on again and swung over. I asked Laurie to (carefully) lead her forward a few steps. We went maybe eight feet forward and stopped. Hola dropped her head, licked and chewed. I stepped off. I dropped her cinch. And, remembering my damaged calf, resisted doing a happy dance.
The next night I repeated the process only this time I had L. lead me around a few laps of the round pen. Looking at the video of that day, you would think I was the one getting my second horsey-back ride ever! She looks like a broke old kids pony and I look like an excited little girl with a, "Hey Mom! Look! I'm riding a pony!" smile.
Of course, I recognize my mistakes only after the fact. On the first ride, when I stepped off all at once she was just a little startled so the second time I wanted to go slow and lay back over her. I should have had my foot out of the stirrup as I pulled that saddle too much off center. I also made a big mistake in not having a rein myself. If L. had lost that lead I would have been left with nothing and if she had gotten to bucking I wouldn't have been able to pull her head up.
Last night I went to get on her the third time. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find anyone who was free to come be my "safety" and I wasn't going to get on her if I was alone at the barn so I compromised by laying over her a few times so she got my weight on her back again and spending some time at the mounting block just petting on her... so she was nice and relaxed last night when I dropped her cinch. This eve I plan on getting on her again but this time I will have the reins and hope to have her move forward without being lead.
My plan is to get on her every day this week for ten minutes and then give her the weekend off. I will keep it simple, all I will ask her this week is to move forward to a walk and to one rein safety stop. When I think about how long of a road it is to getting her broke I am daunted. So for now I will focus on one week at a time. And I will savor every moment.