All the Pretty Ponies

All the Pretty Ponies

Amy gave me very good advice pre-Simon getting sick.  She said to ride even if I didn’t feel like it, because it would probably make me feel better.  I took it to heart, because honestly I don’t feel like riding.  Things I feel like doing instead of riding include…

  • Eating froyo
  • Watching reality TV
  • Pretending to clean my house

But alas, my trainer and friends are nice enough to offer me rides and I believe that if you say “No” to people too often they stop offering.  So I keep asking for rides and am therefore learning that I basically suck at riding.  Here are my case studies from the past week on that subject.

(I’m using show pictures for most of them, because my ability to remember to snap a photo is pretty much nonexistent)


Sadie is my farrier’s horse, and she’s this super awesome “been there done that” jumper.  I’m not sure what division she showed in the peak of her career, but I want to say it was the Junior Jumpers?  Either way, this Thoroughbred mare in her late teens is still really spunky and loving her job.

I just hacked Sadie, and absolutely adored her canter.  The problem I had was riding in a hackamore, which made me feel like I had zero adjust-ability.  Looking back, I needed to be riding with my seat instead of my hands (more on this later).  She was super fun.


O is a four-year-old Thoroughbred, and somewhat of a superstar at our barn.  He has the natural makings of a fine hunter with a long stride and 10 trot, and he’s also been brought up properly with good rides and training.  Therefore, he’s amaze balls.  I was really excited to hack him.

O is a gorgeous creature (as seen above) but my pictures made him look like King of the Derps.

Derp 4 life.
Derp 4 life.

Getting on, I was pumped to hack the lovely moving creature and see how much I could package him up.  Turns out, the answer was not much at all.  He was a totally different ride than Simon.  O has this lovely trot naturally, but to bring the best out of him you really have to push him forward and ride with some contact.  It’s not a foreign concept to me, but keeping that big pretty boy moving was hard work.  He needed a lot more gas pedal than what I’m used to. I haven’t felt so fat and out of shape in years.  Mental note – perhaps less Froyo.


Hitch is the old lady barn staple.  You may be able to tell from the photo, but she is super sway backed.  Like, I legit asked someone if I was going to break her back into when I sat on her.  That kind of sway back.  My trainer said they bought her as a young horse and her back looked the same, and that it was just some kind of conformation flaw.

The sway back doesn’t hinder her though, and turns out I didn’t squash her by riding her.  Instead, the old gal was perky and moving forward happily.  I believe she did the junior hunters in her younger days, but now Hitch is the go to school horse…. and school master she is.

This mare is push button, which tells you something when I absolutely could not ride her to save my life.  Our first course was awful with poles flying and missed changes and everything.  Turns out, I was riding way way too much with my hands.  When you pull on Hitch, she just gets heavy and faster.  You have to ride her with your seat and a light touch.  Also, you have to stay out of her way because she’ll hunt the distance for you.  Basically, sit up and just keep her quiet in the corners.  That’s it.

Why couldn’t I do that?  Hard to say, but it did get better by my last course.  I’m hoping to lesson on her again sometime, because it was an eye awakening experience.  We get so used to our own horses, for better or worse!

36 thoughts on “All the Pretty Ponies

  1. Um, love Froyo! And this is so awesome that you are able to ride other ponies! I actually hopped on a new pony last night and it made me realized how little seat aid I’ve been using in the canter transitions- something I’m going to work on the next time I get on Foster!

  2. I love how other horses will point out your issues in a way your own horse won’t! I ride other horses for my trainer, and they’ve all pointed out that I ride with waaaaay too much left leg and not enough right. Oops. 🙂

    Loving O. He’s a pretty boy! Sounds a lot like my horse, too. Lots of leg required!

  3. I feel your pain. Every single time I get on a horse who isn’t mine, I feel like I have to learn to ride all over again. Like, if you looked at me, you would think I had never sat on an equine mammal before. Why is it so hard?

  4. glad you’re getting out to ride other horses!! we definitely get so used to our own rides – and frequently become co-dependent with the horse (isabel and i have some serious right-side issues…). but i think it’s important to get out of the box and try different horses.

    hey, you might even find that there are some ‘aha’ moments when you get back on Simon 🙂

  5. I feel your pain too! I haven’t had a consistent mount for the last year so I just ride what I can. I know it makes me a better rider overall but man is it hard work! I definitely took things for granted on my mare and she also installed a few (err…quite a few?) bad habits that have been really hard to break.

  6. I had my OTTB from 8th grade all the way thru my college years. He is now retired. I can’t tell you how much I miss having the same horse to ride everyday for almost ten years. I always rode other horses, but it was nice at the end of the day to have my OTTB. I am hopeful that one day I will have that relationship again.

  7. First of all… *smack* because the answer is never LESS froyo.

    Second of all, this is timely because Trainer has been after me for weeks to ride some of his horses and either I haven’t had time or haven’t been in the mood. I did finally resolve earlier this week to let him know that I’d have time to ride some of his this weekend, so this post is a good reminder of why I should stick by my decision and actually get my butt on some other horses.

  8. Love the comment on the co-dependent relationship… so true! Riding other horses ALWAYS points out your own flaws, so for me it’s always hugely depressing. But you also learn sooo much about yourself, and maybe how to adjust your ride a little bit, so I feel like it’s worth it!

    Paddy misses you, BTW. 😉

  9. Yay for you! You will learn so much. BTW I think the hardest horse to ride is a packer when you own a non-packer. We so much want to fiddle with them! You don’t suck you are just on something different!

    1. I’m the same way!! I really really suck at riding packers. I can’t just sit there and not do anything 🙂

  10. What a fun group you’ve been able to ride! I tend to get stuck in a one horse mode too, and typically I try to swap horses with a friend every few weeks! Keep things fresh 🙂

    That said, Froyo does make me feel better!

  11. Whaaaaaaat there are TWO fantastic red horses with white faces on this planet named O? Admittedly, he sounds like my O’s polar opposite though, lol.
    And you’re not alone in feeling lost when you’re up on the push button distance seeker. For the life of me I can’t figure out what to do with myself when I’m on a horse that just goes and all I have to do is sit there. It’s like I go into total panic mode… “what do you mean, I just have to sit here? I have to DO SOMETHING! If I don’t do something we’re going to DIE! I have to DO SOMETHING!” And then I do something, and it all falls apart!

  12. It’s so tricky getting a feel for a new horse when you’re so used to your own. Enjoy it – sound like a fabulous opportunity. Also know you are not alone – I had serious panic attacks about trying out a horse to buy since my first ride flailing is pretty epic.

  13. What a fab opportunity & great advice from Amy.
    Glad to hear you have been getting saddle time and are learning plenty to boot. Riding different types of horses is yet another thing I miss about my yard in Ireland. In the 4 years I’ve been in Lux, I have only sat on a horse that isn’t mine 3 – times & one of those I didn’t do more than walk; while another i got some trot but no more than that.
    In saying that, we pay good money to keep our horses where they are and I for one now prefer to ride mine when I can so that it is not wasting money…but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss riding different types of horses. We can learn so much more from those that don’t pander to us on a daily basis 😉

  14. I suck at riding push button horses, I’m just not able to sit there and do nothing. That’s great you have so many horses to ride while Simon is off!

  15. Riding other horses is always great! I went through a phase where everything I was riding was small and sporty, when I finally sat on a big horse again, I was totally at sea.

  16. So cool that you have the opportunity to ride different horses! Its never easy to get on a horse for the first time and get them to go as well as you want, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Have fun!

  17. I always feel completely inept when I ride a new horse for the first time. But I love riding new horses! And there is never too much froyo…

  18. Sounds like a nice collection of horses to ride! It does take some getting used to each one, especially if they are so different than what you are used to, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep having fun with ponies!

  19. Don’t get too hard on yourself! You’re not a pro and when you’re use to riding one horse one way that’s what your body learns and remembers. It is really helpful to ride other horses… but it’s also a shit show to begin with because you have to learn allll these other techniques! Not to mention, we all have our preferred ‘style’ and will get along with some horses better than others. I saw Olympic coach Jim Kofford even get of my trainer’s horse and tell her he was just making him mad and for her to get back on and make him happy- even olympic riders don’t quite jig up with some horses!!

    But good for you for getting out and doing it even when you don’t feel like it 🙂

  20. Ahhhh Miss Hitchy-poo. I spent many an hour up on her swayness. My favorite name for her: Miss Thing. Yes, she’s point and shoot, and I too found that staying out of her way worked best.

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