The Stead Of The Week

Today, the question of what to wear to my lesson was simple; lots of clothes. The temperature for the day never reached above 40 degrees. I wore a thick sweater, a fleece jacket and a wind jacket on top. I went with the bleu breeches because, out of the few pairs I own, I think they’re the thickest. I assume its because they’re the least worn.

I arrived at the barn and was anxious to meet my stead of the week, since Striker went away to lead change boot camp. My ride for today was Parker. He’s a 4 year old, BIG Quarter Horse. They told me one more thing about Parker before I mounted up, he’s a western pleasure horse. I’ve never ridden a western trained horse, but for some reason I had it in my head that it was going to be an easy, quiet ride.

As soon as I got up in the saddle, I realized just how big Parker actually is! It felt like I was doing a split the entire lesson. While wd walked, my trainer set all the jumps to found poles and explained the exercise I’d be doing later. The point of the exercise was to work on learning distances. The object is to canter the ground poles and count, out loud, the last three strides to the pole. I was super excited about this exercise! Its so simple, yet it seemed so effective.

We began working at the trot, he was smooth but his gait felt odd. Not lame, just different than what I’m used to. We started trotting over cavaletti. It went smooth the first few times. Then the trainer decided to spread the cavaletti to make him reach more. Parker thought it’d be easier to canter and jump the poles, and I just wasn’t strong enough to convince him otherwise, even though we tried many times.

After the cavaletti disaster, we moved on to working at the canter. I set him up for the canter transition, but when I asked for the departure; he broke into a fast trot. I got this result for a while, I felt like the worst rider ever! All the barn girls were in the ring, watching my lesson, including Parker’s usual rider. We cooled off and walked a minute. I asked again, this time I was successful. He cantered heavy on his forehand, and even though I was in a half seat, he was pulling me out of the tack. At this point im freezing, shaking like crazy and I can’t feel my legs. He kept breaking gait, popping back into a canter, then breaking gait again. It was tough to keep my leg on him, especially with him pulling me down every stride. We cantered the opposite lead, he was pretty hot at this point. He wanted to gallop, he was so heavy in his front. His canter felt so downhill and he wouldn’t respond to my half halts. When I finally got him down to a walk I made it very clear I didn’t wanna canter again. The trainer told me to do a little more trot work, but he decided it was best if we called it a day. Parker was too worked up and hot, he kept trying to canter instead of trotting. I dismounted in the ring and walked Parker back to the barn with his rider.

She and I talked for a while. The girl (I feel bad that I’ve already forgot her name) explained that Parker does the same stuff with her that he tried in the lesson. She told me that it took her a long time to get used to the way he goes, and that she still has a hard time. I liked Parker, he was pretty, I just don’t think I’m suitable to ride a very young, green horse. I thought I had made that pretty clear in the times I had talked to the trainer before hand. When I walked back down to the ring to talk to the trainer, he assured me I would get a long better next time with Parker now that I had felt how he went. I assured him there wouldn’t be a next time. He seemed taken aback by my refusal to ride him again. I understand that the trainer calls the shots and knows best, but in this case I strongly believe I don’t need to be on a green horse. After my trainer realized I was serious, I believe he understood. He agreed to put me on someone else for the next lesson.

After this week, all I can think about is how much I can’t wait to ride Striker again!

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