Posted by: shannonc | February 27, 2009


Normally, significant riding events do not happen for me in the month of February.  February is COLD in New England.  Just another cold, icy, snowy month in the middle of the many cold, icy, snowy months we call winter here. 

Just maybe, there’s going to be something special about 2009.  It’s still going to snow in April, but my February has definitely been unusual.

Pip continues to overachieve on his report card of previously published, critically important next-event-horse attributes.  Now, I have no illusions that this makes me special.  Here, truly, is a horse who would attach himself to anyone offering a fraction of a chance.  Even so, there was no denying the pitter-patter of my ridiculously impressionable little heart when he twanged the cross ties thinking that because I was walking away, he was supposed to follow, or when he interrupted his investigation of someone’s abandoned Diet Coke bottle to come to me from across the ring when I called him.  Some things just can’t be helped!

Between the lines of my list, though – somewhere in there among the requisite “could probably be convinced to sleep under my pillow” and the utterly imperative “would hide more dirt than previous mount” – lurk some other priorities.  Less important, to be sure.  But still.

  1. Horse must be sound.
  2. Horse must have jumping ability.
  3. Horse must enjoy jumping.
  4. Probably, I should be able to ride horse.

I wrote #4 in pencil – really lightly, as if it were my own private concern, unnoticeable by anyone else.  After all, why should it occur to the rest of the world that I ought to be able to ride this next-event-horse?  He could be an art subject:  Next Event Horse In Stall.  Next Event Horse Relaxing At Pasture.  Right?  Then, we could all rejoice over how adorable he is and I’d cruise along under the riding radar.

Okay.  Not so much.

Pip does not count mind-reading amongst his strengths.  Or maybe he does.  He studiously ignored my anxiety and refused to indulge my excuses.  I can’t dream of getting on this horse, I told myself.  He doesn’t even cross-tie!  So he did.  But, but – he hasn’t moved around in ages!  So he free longed and jumped in a chute.  And then he learned to actually longe on the line, in a circle of my own making – in two sessions.  Crap.  This horse picks stuff up way too fast.  Well, he definitely doesn’t understand pressure on the reins.  He’s a racehorse – he’ll take off!  So I introduced side reins and he accepted them in about sixty seconds.  What do I do now?  I have no plan for being in the saddle.  I’ll have to remember a thousand things:  sit straight.  Keep my hands low whenever possible.  Talk to him.  Don’t use too much leg pressure.  Steer him like a wheelbarrow.  Have a bucking strap ready to grab.  Stay relaxed (ha!).  If he does A, I must do B.  C, D and the rest of the alphabet all must be accounted for, visualized, written out and fully explicated in a dissertation of possibilities.

It’s no wonder the horse resisted my codependent entreaties.  I eventually even got tired of myself. 

Just get on the horse.

So I did.

Lo and behold.

Thanks Alyssa for the video and Dave for the still shots!

If you might see a dressage horse in that head!

If you might see a dressage horse in that head!


Almost on the wild horse




  1. Glad you added “retraining” to the tags — and I’ll take some of the credit for egging you into the saddle.

    For the others who read this and weren’t there, he was as good as you could ask him to be … but not an angel. Little miss “I’m a fraidy-cat” was not. She kept herself together and responded gently, but directly and with modest authority. …and he responded as a nearly-four-year-old should: a bit of a naughty head-shake and then an “okay, I know you are actually the boss.”

    These two are destined for greatness. Let’s hope they both remember who introduced them to each other! ;-)

  2. Awwww…thank you <3

  3. HEHEHE. I love your naratives, Shannon!!!!!

  4. I think you’re both nutz.

  5. Shannon, did you have the flask on you??

  6. you are VERY welcome! im reading all of these…they are so entertaining!!! (and take my mind off of things) =]

  7. I’m lovin’ all of it as I do you! In this particular segment, I lol priority #4.

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