Friday, January 3, 2014

Tally, Me and the Big K

Sonita shifted under me, snapped her tail and swung her head. Her irritation was clear, I didn't need the white ringed eye roll to get the point, but she honored me with it anyway.

 Stupid bitch, I thought, but straightened up and slid my butt back to the middle of my saddle. It occurred to me she probably muttered the exact same thing as she reminded me, for the 1000th time, how much she hated it when I rested with my weight crooked and a leg slung over the saddle horn. I touched her neck in apology and she relaxed.

"She did absolutely nothing?" K asked.

"Yep, after all that fuss to get her saddled, once I got a leg over, Tally just rode off like a broke horse. She was so relaxed I started thinking she was relieved to get it behind her and get back to work," I said.

"She probably was. If she was a mustang mare, stolen by some young, ignorant stud -- well, she'd be ready to make his life hell, even if she couldn't get back to her herd. Then, when her stallion showed up, put the upstart back in his place and stole her back, she'd be pretty shook up. Mares don't like having their lives shook up like that. She would probably be on the prod with him too. One he put her back in her place, well, she's be relieved to fall back into patterns she understood."

I thought about that for a bit. It made sense. A lot more than the boarding stable crowd's current opinion.
"She's a one woman horse," they said, and "Janet just has a "touch."

"Those nimrods have Tim about convinced he isn't "horse whispery" enough," I complained. They're telling him to try that Parrelli shit to get in touch with her soul, or heart, or some such shit."

"Don't get all pissy with them," K warned, "they have a point."

"Say what?"

"You've worked out a compromise with Tally. You don't do things that upset her, you ride her quiet and you make damn sure you stay soft, in the middle and are clear. She trusts you, so she goes to work. If you scared her like that crowd at Tim's place, well, she'd be fighting you too."

"So? Isn't that the point?" If I had a tail I'd would have snapped it.

"The point is," K was getting that look on his face, if I didn't quit whining and start trying harder to hear him, he was going to quit talking, "Tim can't do the same thing. His weight shifts, his hands flop around, he miscues her, he can't help it, he hasn't ridden long enough. His greeness is making Tally mad. It's going to get him hurt."

"I'm trying to show him, help him read her, but it just doesn't work."

"Maybe he'll get it eventually, but probably not."

"What should I do?"

"You have to quit being careful. You have to dig deep into that mare, pull out all her stuff and deal with it. You ride her in a way that avoids her tough spots. Tim can't. If you don't smooth them out for him he's going to get hurt. Your job is to turn Tally into a horse he can ride, not to turn him into a rider that can stick Tally."

Wow. I started feeling sick to my stomach. What had I done? I had sold this stick of dynamite to my client, full of confidence I could teach him what it took to ride her. My eternal opinion that if a gomer like me could do it, anybody could do it, wasn't true. My lack of confidence was misplaced. I realized, deep down, I was afraid of Tally. I didn't know if I could handle her without compromise. That was my weakness. That was where the lie was. I had sold a green rider a horse I wasn't sure I truly had a  handle on.

"What's going on?" K asked, his voice was gentle and his eyes were kind.

"I think I'm going to have to step up."

"I think you're right."

Shit. I fought down a feeling of panic and moved Sonita out on a circle. She picked up my anxiety and gave me a few dolphin bucks, one, two, three...each was getting harder, higher, stronger...I settled my weight, picked up my reins and scooted her forward. She leveled out and we went to work.


EvenSong said...

Yah!! More Tally!!
See I told you there were more stories.

Cindy D. said... is a story about Tally, but really it is a story about you.

I like that. I like reading about what each horse, each situation has taught you. I appreciate that you share it with us.

mugwump said...

Cindy D - they all are.

Holly said...

Most people avoid riding out the rough stuff, but you can't fix it if you avoid it.

and yes, I know that was his point.

Holly said...

of course there is a school of thought (which I subscribe to) that you don't have to do it all on their back either. Groundwork can smooth a lot of that out w/o the rider getting dumped (because they aren't on the horse)

AareneX said...

We were just talking yesterday about the difference between practicing stuff that's easy (for the horse or for the rider) and practicing stuff that's difficult (for horse or rider)...and why it's pretty vitally important to make sure you do some of each on a regular basis.

Same concept as here, I think.

gtyyup said...

Yep...I've been there...everyone has at one time or another. Great chapter of the continuing saga!

redhorse said...

Thanks, I needed that. Sounds like the Big K had it figured out.

GreyDrakkon said...

I find it...I don't even know what, but the fact that you were tucking tail while thinking of riding a mare that a greenie was riding (granted, badly, and granted, not so much riding as falling towards the end of it) while you were calmly handling a mare bucking under you because of her opinion of your state of mind, just, yikes. Funny how what we're used to becomes no big deal.

RedHeeler said...

Whoa. Just whoa. That sound you heard all the way in Colorado was my brain exploding in California. That odd glow on the horizon is the lightbulb floating over my head. Thanks.

Sunny said...

Thank you for writing; your thoughtfulness about your experiences and your clarity in expressing them make your writing memorable. I am learning to ride now in my 50's. I wish more instructors could explain themselves as clearly: steady soft balance, quiet hands and legs, clear cues are at the heart of good riding -- not this pattern, or this movement, or this show. I would be far far ahead in my riding if my riding teachers would be patient enough to let me practice just those three--the BIG THREE--ad nauseum, even at a walk, until I could do it half-asleep. I know it might seem "boring", but as an adult it sure takes an amazing amount of repetition to get things smoothly. I wonder if adult beginners ever catch up? --Sunny

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I have a little mare who has thrown me off for 2 years until we finally learned to get along and now she's amazing, I can ride bareback, she still spooks if I slide too much but we have an agreement, she is great. For me. And only me. She panics with anyone new, because they don't ride the way I do.
Now I realise why...I go out of her way and she loves me for it, I never make it difficult for her, and if anything new shows up, she can't cope, because they don't follow her agreement.
A lot of work to be done in 2014 for us. Thank you for sharing.

MichelleL said...

Amazing how this can apply to people or dogs or...

Life Lessons all around.

Jill said...

Yes. Yes yes yes. If I was on my own with my horse I would be quiet and balanced and nice as can be to keep him sweet. Ease off when he starts getting pissy, not push him when he doesn't want to be pushed. My coach won't let me. I have to ride into the problem so it's no longer a problem and come out the other side of the bucking or kicking or speeding.

Scary. Challenging. But YES.

Jill said...

Yes. Yes yes yes. If I was on my own with my horse I would be quiet and balanced and nice as can be to keep him sweet. Ease off when he starts getting pissy, not push him when he doesn't want to be pushed. My coach won't let me. I have to ride into the problem so it's no longer a problem and come out the other side of the bucking or kicking or speeding.

Scary. Challenging. But YES.

mugwump said...

GrayDrakkon - The thing is, I knew absolutely everything Sonita had to offer, good and bad. I had learned how to ride and handle all of it. What was dawning on me was, I had sold Tally to a greenie, and left great big patches of uncharted territory -- that I was afraid to get into.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is just starting the saddle-training on a young colt with a rather hot/sensitive nature...I needed this. As a kick in my rear end to go ahead and ask him for what I've expected of every other 3 year old I've started instead of tiptoeing around it. He'll be for sale this summer and I owe it to him to get him to the "can be any experienced rider's prospect" instead of "he's scared of men, he's scared of this, he's scared of that, he doesn't like x, y, z, so I need to find a buyer who is my size, has my hands, will handle him with my mindset, and will do everything the way I do..." Thank you.

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