Wednesday, April 14, 2010
OK, now I will get to the new horse
To continue the saga . . .
I have been an active member of the Chronicle of the Horse bulletin board for, well, sort of forever. They know me there, and there are dozens of people I see at shows that I "know" from COTH; it's always fun to meet up with people at shows and exchange code names. Sort of like a secret society. Anyhow, in my typical fashion I got to musing out loud over there about being at sort of an eventing crossroads and wondering if I should find another schoolmaster.
Enter Seema, a fellow COTHer, fellow (although former) Michigan eventer, fellow medical person, fellow eventer, and owner of a little spotted horse named Keebler who has as colorful a pedigree as he has a personality. Part Holsteiner, part TB, part Appaloosa. All boy--what was I going to do with a GELDING? She was looking to place him in an eventing barn with a really good trainer and my barn and trainer certainly fit the bill, if I do say so myself! Was I interested in a year-long lease on a little horse with all the jump in the world and (to quote his owner in her introductory note) a little bit of an Appy-tude?
(I didn't realize before I met him that the part between the ears for Appies is generally more colorful than their hides)
Sure I was! Gwen came to me completely in a spur-of-the-moment decision, nudged along by another eventing buddy. And the horse had never met a jump he didn't think was meant for jumping--just like Gwennie, and PRECISELY what I needed. The deed was done, and late last fall Keebler arrived up north after spending lots of time in Florida and Alabama--just enough bunny fur and plenty of warm blankets to see him though a real winter.
Excited, I tacked up for our first ride--first check: Bonnie's girth SWAM on him, hmmm, so do all my saddle pads and boots and coolers. Luckily he came with bridles and lots of halters--I will explain why later--and I borrowed a little girth and off we went. I realized within a few minutes that I now had the ride on two horses that are as opposite as opposite could be, in almost every way imaginable . . .
Bonnie: girl, big horse, little gaits, must be pushed to use herself and big, free movement does NOT come naturally. However, she is obedient, easy to ride, and cheerful about almost everything. Although not athletically gifted, she is always ready to go for a ride. A good egg, easy to have fun with but hard to get a great performance. Not entirely her fault. Nature endowed her with big, sturdy hooves and limbs and a great temperament, but not with glorious gaits.
Keebler: boy, little horse, big gaits, uses every bit of himself all the time but no aversion to sending each of his four limbs in random directions. Supple does not begin to describe him--think "gumby". Big walk, big stride, lots of movement in a small package. However, how shall I say it--NOT obedient, NOT easy, and decidedly NOT cheerful about dressage! Plenty of go, but a little light on submission and cooperation. Verdict? Bruce Mandeville had him pegged in 30 seconds: "there's a lot going on in there". Smart, smart, smart, clever, clever, clever. Opinionated, prickly and makes you figure things out on your own.
I was going to learn a lot from this one.