When thinking back on all the wonderful horses I have worked with, I realize there are TONS of lesson horses who have earned a cushy retirement! All the horses who stop when they feel their student losing balance, the ones who will jump anything you point them at no matter what, the ones who spook in place to not unseat their student, the ones who stand quietly while we play "Around-the-world" or make a million and one stirrup adjustments. If I wrote about every single one, we would be here a very long time. For now, here is a few more gems from my vault.
Jackpot - Jackpot was a wise, middle-aged gelding (I believe another Appendix Quarter Horse) that I had the pleasure of riding when I was still an advanced beginner. The first thing you had to know about Jackpot was that he was hard to catch. I knew even then that he wanted to have insurance that he would be rewarded for his effort, as he would always allow you to catch him if you had grain. He never ran away from anyone in the paddock, he would just stroll away as soon as he learned you were aiming for him. Jackpot was a great lesson horse, I can remember his smooth careful canter depart, making sure his rider was ready before bumping up his speed. Jackpot was the first horse that I rode over a jump on trails. He didn't care much for jumping, but was very safe about it.
Dyna - Dyna was the first mare that I rode in lessons. She was willing to teach me that mares can sometimes be a little more difficult to persuade. She was a small light colored Palomino girl who was very gentle. I interpreted her gentleness as kind of a peace offering. I figured she was trying to show an example to her students. Dyna was the first horse that I used a crop on to reinforce my aids. One day, Dyna was being slow and gentle, except this time she added a bit of stubbornness, and did not have much forward drive at all. My trainer advised that I use the crop behind my leg. The first time, she didn't listen. So again, my trainer said "Use the stick. You have already asked for forward, she did not listen. Now you have to tell her!" so I used a bit more force. But with added force, I lost accuracy, and gave a swift smack... right to her flank. She exploded straight up in the air. It was not an evil buck, just a little hop letting me know that was not ok. I regained composure, and understood what I just learned, and Dyna was a little more cooperative for the rest of the lesson.
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