Sunday, May 18, 2014

Seeing Spots

Our family got a little bigger last week!

And much more colorful!

I've been looking for a new pony since shortly after Matilda's untimely death last year.  Finding the right pony isn't an easy task, particularly when children are involved.  At first, the kids refused to even look at anything that wasn't dark bay.  Dark bay is not a common color in ponies, let me tell you!  Eventually, I did convince them to widen the search criteria, but I still had my own laundry list.

The pony needed to be 13-14 hh, because I did not want anything that could squiggle through my fence again!  Also, I need to be able to ride it for the kids.  I'm pretty short, but I feel silly on anything shorter than 13h.  That height will also last them for awhile.  I don't want to replace another pony anytime soon, or ever, actually.  They can go straight from a 13-14 hand-er to a horse.

I wanted something young-ish, under 10 years old.  Again, because I don't want to have to replace another pony.  But, it also had to be quiet and sensible.  A young pony that doesn't act like a young pony.

It also needed to be very versatile. My kids are 4 and 6 years old. They have no clue what kind of riding they want to do yet, so I need a pony with the potential to do it all.  I definitely do not want to have to replace a pony because the kids decide they want to rodeo and I bought a Hunter pony!

I looked at a lot of ponies, but I kept coming back to one.

Mr Hottspott.  How great is that name?

Mr Hottspott is a 2007 Pony of the Americas standing 14 hh. He goes English and Western and jumps.  He's a sensible little fellow, but has a motor on him when you press the right buttons.  When you don't press the buttons, he's happy to just mosey along.   And he loves the kids!

She dresses herself.

I love a chestnut, and I love me some spots. Even though he is the kids' horse, I'm going to have to put some show miles on him myself before the kids can start taking him out to shows.  I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't really excited about riding down centerline on an obnoxiously colored pony named Mr Hottspott!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Just Jack

I haven't done as much with Jack as I should have.

Aside from teaching him how to rock a fabulous hat, of course.  That's a life skill.

It's not that I don't like Jack, he's a really good guy. He has a great personality, he's pretty clever (when motivated) and he's eager to please. He loves to just hang out with us in the backyard and have snacks and maybe a beer or two.  He fits in pretty perfectly with our little family.

But, I find him boring to ride. He's a good boy, but he's green. Riding Jack means working on basic steadiness and contact and rhythm and all that humdrum stuff. It's just not as fun as riding Spider. 

Spider and I have been partners for nearly a decade. We know each other. We've trained each other perfectly, and that makes our rides together easy. Well, maybe "easy" isn't the right word... Spider is not an easy ride, but that makes him interesting. Jack doesn't know enough to be interesting yet. 

A friend of mine came over to ride Jack the other day. She has a 3 yr old filly of her own that she's bringing along very nicely, so I figured she'd find Jack a lot more interesting than I do. Plus, she exercises track horses and rides OTTBs, so she's familiar with that aspect of his training, too. 

Jack was perfect, as I expected he would be. In the year I've owned him, he's only misbehaved once under saddle, which is pretty good for a 3 yr old. I was happy to see how nicely he moves under saddle, too. I'd never seen him ridden before. He's going to be spectacular once he's stronger and fully trained. 

Hopefully I'll learn to take better pictures between now and then.

So, as I watched her ride, I was kvetching about how boring it is to ride babies, and my friend said, "No it isn't. You're building a foundation."

Dammit! She's right. 

When I first got Spider, we did so many circles that I thought my brain might fall out. We spent our first two years together working on basic steadiness and contact and rhythm and all that humdrum stuff. I had forgotten all about those first years. Nearly a decade later, I am reaping the benefits of that boring foundation. But Spider won't last forever and, whether I like it or not, I have to train his replacement up from nothing. 

I actually swore that, after Spider, I would never again buy a horse that wasn't trained to at least 2nd Level. But I'm a sucker for a chestnut, and a sucker for a sweetheart, and a sucker for a great-grandson of Secretariat, and just generally a huge sucker and here we are.

Also, Jack's snip is in the shape of an "S", which is my first initial.  It's not the best reason to choose a horse, but I'm not really known for my rational and pragmatic decisions, either.

So now, when Jack and I are going around in our mind numbing circles trying to find his balance and I feel like my brains are going to melt out of my ears, I amuse myself (and keep the tempo) by chanting the wise words of my friend:

"We're building a foundation. We're building a foundation. We're building a foundation...."


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