Yesterday we saw how Dandy recovered quickly from being gelded, and had to be back to work sooner than what the vet had prescribed. Buck Brannaman often says to “get busy with your horse, or trouble will come and find you”, and that sure is true ! So busy we got. We added the saddle pad, added the saddle, added handling him from “above” (sitting on the rail of the arena). Disengaging his hindquarters on demand was established, and lateral flexion was getting good and consistantly reliable. A lot of skilled colt starters do their first rides in a rope halter, but I was feeling a little squirming about that. Stacy Westfall, for her part, puts them in a snaffle bit prior to the first ride and does some ground driving to have primitive steering established, and I felt more comfortable with that, so that’s what I did, too.
So we basically had a 23 mth old boy who was saddled and bridled, good in the round pen with all the basic stuff. The only thing we still needed was the guts to get on. And so… I did, well partially anyway, as seen HERE. Man, when you get to that point your heart is beating, because it’s a real milestone.
The thing is, once you’ve started, it’s addictive, and you want progress further. So 40 days after getting that crazy horse out of the truck (with a one week break due to surgery), I was sitting on top of him, and feeling very, very thrilled 🙂
We even got some lateral flexions done that first time, but in all honesty I had *not* planned to get on that day, so I just ended there and got off. But the next day I was back at the barn, thoroughly excited (and scared stupid) to get the first “real” ride.
First he had to complete his groundwork with the saddle on
In retrospect it all seems it was pretty easy, but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t very impressive on the moment. I mean, getting on a colt that nobody has ever ridden before, that same young horse that acted all untamed and crazy for a good while when I first got him, that was a little overwhelming. For that first ride the weather was warm and sunny, and my daughter had come with me to document the event. As my horsemanship virtual mentor, the Australian Warwick Schiller, advises, I spend the first few minutes bending Dandy’s head laterally from side to side, then asking him to disengage his hindquarters, stepping across underneathing. That is the “brakes” feature needed in case the young horse loses the plot at the novelty of having someone on their back, and wants to resort to bucking or some other silliness. Once that was good, I progressively let his neck go straighter and straighter, while clucking at him to go forward. After a while he was walking peacefully, and even trotting very relaxed, as Marla captured it in this very short clip.
And this is me, enormously relieved it all went well, in a massively poor cellphone picture. Believe it or not, my heart still races just at the thought of it, lol !
Obviously the horse was also quite relieved the whole thing went well and didn’t scare him. After that we left for a week to the seaside, me very frustrated to be cut short in such an important moment of progress, but determined to pick it up where I left it upon returning. Which you’ll find all about in the next post 😉