Saturday, October 23, 2010

Getting to Know You

I'd sure spent a lot of times on the sidelines as a Horse Show Mom but had never ridden our daughter's performance horse, Champ, when I inherited him as she headed off to college. 

I'd ridden since I was a kid but never had lessons.  I wanted to learn how to ride like our daughter but had no idea how to operate Champ's "buttons" to get the same results.  I didn't know a half halt from a side pass.  Today after eighteen months of lessons I do.

I'd ridden Poco for a week before purchasing him but then spent the next two weeks off of him, focusing on Champ's illness.  Two weeks later Poco was my only horse. 

I jumped right back into lessons with Poco now instead of Champ.  I'd been told that Poco's history included showing so I kept the same goals I'd had with Champ.  But I was surprised to find how much harder Poco was to ride.  When I tried to apply the buttons I'd used on Champ I didn't get the same results.  My weekly lessons became a struggle. 

My Trainer Rachel, suggested Poco was rusty and so I offered him out to her to use for lessons.  The thought was that it would help tune Poco up and improve our rides.  Instead things became worse. 

Poco is 21 years old.  When I would come up to ride him later in the day after someone else had taken a lesson on him, I found him sluggish and worn out from his earlier ride.  I started staying off of Poco on the days he was being used for lessons. 

Soon I found the only day I could ride was on MY lesson day.  My time off of Poco caused a larger gap between us.  My lessons that used to go by in a flash now seemed to drag on.

Poco's diagnosis of Moon Blindness and loss of sight in his right eye was my wakeup call.  My Vet's warning about taking Poco out on trails and to shows was validated by Poco's spooking at unusual objects on his right side.  Poco's reaction was a spook that could cover 15 feet sideways or forward in a split second.  It wasn't something I felt confident about riding out.

Without showing or trail riding in my future, goals with Poco changed.  Lessons had been an aid to meeting goals.  Now I had no idea what my goals were or what I should be working towards.  I felt lost.

The one thing I knew for sure was that Poco would need to depend on and trust me.  That was going to mean we become the team we currently weren't.  I didn't know Poco and he didn't know me - all we knew about each other was under the guidance of someone telling us what to do in a lesson environment.

Last month I told Rachel that I was no longer offering Poco out and I was taking time off from lessons.  I told her I just wanted to ride and get to know my horse.  Rachel is an incredible trainer and she was totally supportive.

That was almost a month ago and it has been one of the best things I could have done as Poco and I have gone down the road of not only getting to know each other but having a good time doing it.

I'm thrilled to find Poco to be the best patient I've ever treated when I need to apply the antibiotic ointment to his eyes or give him a dose of Butte.  He's inquisitive, sensitive and yet comical.  His head now pops out of the stall door whenever he hears my voice upon arrival.

I'm working on gaining his trust by exposing him to different things and assuring him that it's safe.  I'm riding him in both the indoor and outdoor arena.  I've been leading him between the two but am at the point now where I think I can ride him between the two without any mishap as long as there isn't any competing vehicles or activity around.

Right now my goals are still gray but I'm hoping that with his trust in me that maybe, just maybe, we can go to a schooling show and hang out.  Depending on his reaction, I may enter us in a class.

In the meantime Poco and I are just having plain old good fun, riding and hanging out together.  Horses take us on the most incredible journeys and this is surely to be one of them.  And the best thing is that riding is fun again.


  1. I applaud you. You did what was right for Poco and what was right for your relationship with him. I am glad that riding is fun again, for both of you.

  2. Sounds like you made the right decision for you & Poco. It's wonderful that your enjoying each other and learning together, building trust.

  3. Wow sorry things were so rough for a while there but I'm happy you seem to have figured out what's right for the two of you. I'm glad you're both having fun again. :)

  4. Your instincts are good. Glad you're having fun and building trust with your nice horse.