Riding the Naturally Crooked Horse

So the big kid is a naturally balanced straight horse.  Our issues were primarily working on creating push and energy without speed.  Dutch was also great at faking a frame and naturally had a pretty active hind end, so getting him to really PUSH into the bridle and stay ridable was our #1 focus.

Uno is a horse of a completely different color.  He is naturally downhill and VERY tight through his back.  When you match this with a tendency to run out through the shoulders, he rides 1000% more difficult than Dutch.

The odd couple.

It is crazy how much natural ability makes it feel SO MUCH EASIER!  Dutch is naturally the more sensitive horse, it makes it really hard to keep him happy in his retirement because he really is more of a professional ride.  It made him tricky to ride at shows and a nightmare to hunt. However, in the dressage arena, he is a joy.  Uno is totally unflappable.  He is the World's Best Hunting Pony (TM) and super fun at shows because if anything he is easier than at home.  Our flat rides are a constant struggle.  It has taken 2 years and several trainers to start to make improvements.  Because he is not sensitive sometimes it takes a BIG correction to get him to respond, but because he also wants to be a good boy he only needs that correction in one area.

Such a natural!

For example, if I lose his shoulder down the long side sometimes it takes a pony club kick to get it back over, but if I hold the reins too much or half halt too aggressively at the same time he gets very defensive.  Dressage is also VERY hard for him.  He is a tight, muscle-y, blocky horse and bending and lifting is HARD.  This means that even simple things like canter leads can be tricky because it is easier to for him to counter canter than it is for him to bend his body. To make this harder Uno is more independent.  He doesn't always want to just do what you ask, especially if it is hard.  He will 100% always jump a jump in front of him, but sometimes he just says, "fuck that!" to some simple leg yielding.  His # 1 evasion is to take his back away, which makes everything more uncomfortable for everyone.

This sucks for everyone!

Sometimes I just wish I could mash the two horses together and get Uno's sensibility in Dutch's body.  Sometimes I also wish I has an extra $5k, so that I could afford to inject Dutch every 6 months and put him on monthly Adaquan.  The only reason he is retired from showing (at the low levels is because I cannot afford the more intensive support needed to keep him really sound and happy).  Sometimes I wish that I could just magically explain to Uno that if he let he I could help him balance and everything would be SO MUCH happier.

He just wants me to leave him alone to do his job.

But then I dig my self out of my little pity party and get on one of the horses. I remind myself that they are such GOOD boys.  Dutch and I dance around my crappy little dirt arena and practice half pass and turns on the hind.  We spin and leap and prance.  Then I climb on Uno - bareback and gallop through our woods.  We jump fallen trees and escape into childish fantasies, we play explores and wanderers and he gives the wings and freedom I lack on two legs.

I try not to be overly analytical about my riding because I naturally fall into the habit of being unhealthily competitive and obsessive in my practice.  Sometimes I need my crooked pony to remind that I ride because of the joy of it and not beause I want to improve our walk co-effect by .5 of a point next show out.


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