Farley’s new job
|October 27, 2014||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Sunday I turned MerryLegs out into the arena where she could buck, rear, kick, and run. In contrast to her paddock where only the first 3 could (and did quite spactacularly) occur .
The kids who come for lessons love MerryLegs. She’s sweet, personable, and interactive. But on Sunday I noticed something else. Two little girls were slipping through the pipe corral fencing into Farley’s pen. I watched them braid her long mane and untangle knots from her tail. Farley turned her back to MerryLeg’s arena antics and ignored ML in favor of standing quietly with the 2 girls, one of which had spread her arms across Farley’s back and snuggled her face into Farley’s side.
And more remarkable, Farley was just standing there. This is not a cuddly, personable horse. She’s tolerant and resigned to the inevitable grooming and fussing that must occur, but often after saying the first polite hellos, she steps away to resume whatever she does in that pen when I’m not there (which as far as I can tell consists of napping and swishing at flies).
The Barn Owner remarked that girls often slip into Farley’s pen to say hello, and how much both the girls really like my two arabs.
She talked about how good the girls were getting – they had graduated beyond the walk trot pokey horses and were actually doing a little polo stick and ball at a trot and they were working towards going to a middle school polo tourney. How the girls were tough and real athletes and were really learning to have soft hands.
She talked about how the mom was thinking about buying them a horse of their own soon.
I talked about how Farley was feeling really stiff between my rides and how I needed to get her out a couple times a week or I was afraid she wasn’t going to stay sound.
And then I said something I’ve had on my mind for a couple of days.
“I don’t mind if you use her as a lesson horse. She’s honest and fair and will make the kids work to do things like cantering and collection – but she won’t take advantage of them. I used her for beginners when I first got her and she always took care and them. The only caveat is that the kids can’t be afraid of bigger trot.”
We decided to put the girls up on her that afternoon as a test. Farley hadn’t been ridden in almost a week, so I saddled up and did about 5-8 min of walk/trot/canter. Even in a brisk autumn breeze Farley was solid so we retacked her with lesson tack and sent the girls on their way, one at a time.
Farley gave them a solid up tempo working trot. She changed diagonals, did 10m circles, 20m circles, weaved cones, and dropped into a working dressage frame when the kids got the buttons right – and motored around with her nose out when they didn’t. She didn’t take advantage of a dropped rein, or a little unbalance in a turn, or an open gate. She wasn’t fussy with her head when hands were a little shaky.
It was declared as a success by me, the girls, the barn owner, and their mother, so periodically Farley will be used for the girls lessons.
I’m not worried about her getting soured. There are plenty of horses available for them to ride and Farley won’t be used every lesson. I’ll be riding enough to give Farley a “refresher” and the Barn Owner supervising them is an experienced horse person that I trust.
I’m excited for Farley.
She’ll be getting out more often for some light work which will keep her sounder in the long term. And if she “breaks” at a lesson (which are really low key – I’ve watched a lot of them) then there was a good chance she wasn’t going to stay sound for me anyways – no regrets. The last couple rides I’ve gotten a sense that she’s bored of our same routine and same trails. I used to do a lot more “different” stuff with her. I think giving her a part time job packing some kids around will be a good change.If a horse’s life is measured in lives touched, then I sincerely hope I’ve given Farley a chance to add two more to a growing list.
I’m excited for the girls.
They are mostly riding thoroughbreds and a little Arab is definitely different. They know that her “real” job is doing 100 mile trail races, as opposed to most of their other mounts which are current or ex polo ponies. Perhaps someday they will think back to a little endurance arab mare they rode while taking lessons, that was willing, safe, and even a bit of fun – and maybe they’ll decide to give endurance riding a try themselves.