I had planned to saddle up Valeria during Memorial Day weekend and test her skills but as it turned out everyone was too busy, myself included, to make time. It was agony waiting to find a time when someone else was around to ensure I wouldn’t be found dead in my arena hours later at evening feeding time. It also didn’t help that L and Alex were asking for updates on how the ride went as well!
I did eventually find time on Tuesday. I grabbed Valeria and tied her to the outside of her stall. I just couldn’t see how I was going to groom and saddle with a free roaming baby terrorist getting in the way. It’s good I did because V was worked up and Catalina was putting as much lead rope into her mouth as she could manage. V gave the saddle pad and saddle a hard look when I put it on her. That totally boosted my confidence.
Her previous owner had told me that the owner before her used V for trail rides and was ridden by an older man. As a realist, buying a horse I didn’t try from an owner that didn’t offer to meet me somewhere with tack where I could try riding meant that anything said was hearsay and highly suspect. So when I was told the previous-previous owner had ridden but not the current I was resigned to buying an unbroken horse. Which was fine because I was really more interested in the foal than the mare.I cinched V up with care. She kept turning to look at what I was doing and I didn’t want to meet any teeth if she was cinchy. V can be a hard read because she’s a total bitch but also very sweet. Like those Sour Patch Kid commercials. Lol. She took cinching well though and I think a few more careful but purposeful saddlings will remind her that it’s not a big deal. Then I grabbed my bridle and slipped the bit into her mouth. She took it pretty well with zero drama but it was too long on her after being used on Aria. Omg, HOW??? V is bigger than Aria but I had to put the bridle up 3 holes on one side and 2 holes on the other side. She ended up with her tongue over the bit before I could adjust the bridle, so I snagged it when she stuck it out and moved it under the bit. Turns out it’s not my most favorite feeling. If I never have to grab a horse tongue again, I’ll be 100% okay with that! But she settled BIG TIME once the bridle was on. It was like I had a completely different horse. Then I put weight in each stirrup and bounced around her a little mimicking mounting. I could have been a giant plastic bag on fire and she wouldn’t have cared. She was pretty dead to the world. I got on and she started walking off, so I’ll need to work with her on that. I asked for a halt with my seat and then my reins and she kind of didn’t stop until I was really pulling on my reins but not in a way that worried me about stopping her. More like a horse who wasn’t listening. I grew up on an appy gelding that didn’t like to stop either. It’s old hat for me to really have to pull on the mouth to get a halt. We’ll work on it until it’s as easy as sitting down. 🙂 At this point Catalina was losing her little baby mind. She was in the arena with us but she was not okay with me riding V. There was much rearing, bucking, and tearing around the arena (I got video but for some reason all that saved is a white image). This was really the only time I feared for my life during the ride. The last thing I wanted was C trying to join me in the saddle. Which was a real possibility because she rears up onto V’s back all the time. At one point she got way too close for comfort so I booted her in the shoulder and she turned around and mule kicked the shit out of V. 1. I will never do that again, 2. V is a saint because she didn’t even flinch, 3. I will start carrying a long stick with which to fend off C from a safer distance. I had to pony club kick V to get her going into a walk and I plow reined her for some really sketchy steering but she was amiable to everything I was doing. She didn’t seem to understand what I was asking though but she figured it out pretty quickly. I tried neck rein and direct rein before settling on steering like a plow horse. I tried every combination of leg cue for turning before settling on teaching her my cue. I’m not 100% sold that she’s broke to ride. Or at least if she is, she’s a true trail horse and follows the tail in front of her versus whatever the rider is doing. A couple friends on FB suggested she’s just lazy when I posted about my doubts but I’m not so sure. I did get a FB message from the previous owner that swore up and down she had ridden V before and she listened just fine for that ride and perhaps I should try a bosal instead of a bit for better results. Uh…listen, I swear to you if there had been any mention of the previous owner riding V when I went to check her out before buying I would have been riding that horse back in September. So I’m a little befuddled BUT at least I had a good saunter around the property and can start putting some work into V. I’d love to get out on trail and pony C before she’s weaned for the exposure.