Valeria’s First Ride

My lesson was cancelled this weekend because of rain at the barn but we didn’t see any rain in San Diego, so I used my spare time to do neglected house/barn chores. In the infinite wisdom only the boredom of cleaning can provide I decided that I would try riding Valeria. After all I purchased her without trying her which is potentially a horrible move. I was told she was broke and that her previous owner, two owners back, used her as a trail horse for his father. We’ve all heard that before, so I was skeptical but optimistic.

I brushed Valeria down, threw an all-purpose English saddle up on her, which she took in stride but I find the Spanish breeds don’t seem to mind anything if they trust you—

Ben is so grumpy about sharing the turn out with Valeria for the night but their stalls are just miserably wet.

Tangent: When I purchased Aria I was under the assumption she had been ridden a couple times. My sister got up on her, my sister is all of 87lbs soaking wet, because we didn’t want to put too much weight on a 3 year old’s back, and she spent about 15 minutes flexing and steering and walking/trotting. Then we find out that Aria had never been ridden. If that doesn’t give you a clear indication of what Spanish horses are capable of when they don’t have a reason to be afraid, I don’t know what will!

—and then proceeded to put weight in the stirrup and jump around like an idiot around her sides like I was mounting and dismounting. No issues, but I wasn’t sure if it was no issues because she’s just a cool green bean or if it was because she’s actually broke. So I stepped into the stirrup, leaned over the saddle and she started walking off. Awesome, she was probably broke because unbroke horses in my experience stand like a rock or boot scoot away.

Internal cheering happened but not for too long because she was walking off with me and I was laying like a sack of potatoes on her back. A couple tugs on the lead line (yes, she’s in a halter) got no response so I slid off and she pivoted to face me like ‘why did you fall off?’ Because you weren’t listening to me you hippo! But she seemed amiable to keep going so I grabbed my bridle, bitted her up…something that needs serious work because she buried her face into the ground, and then I swung my leg up over the saddle and we marched around the arena for a bit. I expected her to feel wider considering her current state of pregnancy but she was pretty slim and surprisingly she felt very tall for being shorter than Ben.

He warmed up to her the next day though and they started sharing hay piles.

After a couple laps and some fun circles and serpentines I got off because I wasn’t thrilled with the saddle fit but want to try one more thing before putting her away so I ask my sister to climb on board and instruct her in a few cues like turn on the forehand which Valeria performed rather sloppily. She either knows it and is rusty or she’s just really smart (this is completely possible because I was starting to doubt how broke she actually is since we couldn’t get her to trot even using a makeshift crop out of bamboo that grows on one side of our arena—necessity being the mother of invention and all).

Overall it was a successful session and I’ll probably do a few more with a better fitting saddle until the end of January before she becomes a bit too big to be carrying additional weight. But ultimately I think I will probably put in a lot of ground work on her before I deem her safe to ride. Unfortunately I don’t have any media from this ride because I’m not crazy enough to snap photos while working with an unknown horse even if they seem to be chill about it all.

My sister’s adorable 24yo Quarter Horse mare, Reece, dreaming (listen with sound!). Hope this makes up for the lack of ride photos!

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6 thoughts on “Valeria’s First Ride

    • My old trainer started a lot of half-Spanish horses that had some questionable lineage and were only clever at getting out of work or being dangerous to handle. So I never got to see or help start a true young Spanish horse. It’s kind of awesome.

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