I rode Madigan for the first time last week! And it was a total non-event.
His trainer was out of town training with her trainer, so he had the week off from baby school. He’s had time off before for lameness, trainer vacation, etc. and always been totally fine, so I didn’t feel like I needed to do anything with him. But the idea of riding him has been in my mind for a bit and I figured last week would be a good time to do it. My back and pinched nerve are healed. No lessons were schedule, so the arena would be open and quiet. Madigan’s going well for his trainer.
I pulled him out of the pasture late Thursday afternoon, groomed him, and put my jumping saddle on him. I feel really secure and comfortable in that saddle, which is an Ainsley XC Pro National. It fits almost everything I put it on (because everything I put it on is basically the same shape) and Madigan’s no exception. I don’t think it’ll fit him as a mature adult, but I’m happy to enjoy it while it does!
Every session of baby school starts with some amount of ground work, so I spent about 20 minutes working with him before clipping reins to his halter and bringing him to the mounting block. He stood quietly while I squashed down minor internal panic. (What if he bucks? What if he spooks? Do I remember how to ride??) I got on. He stood there.
We walked a couple of laps around the arena. Steering was a very macro process- I exaggerated the cue with the reins and he slowly turned like a giant boat. Halt and walk worked pretty well. I tripped when I dismounted and fell on my butt; Madigan was unconcerned, which I guess is good?
I rode him again on Sunday with my friend Holly and her horse Semper Fi. He wore my sidepull instead of a halter, which seemed to help with steering. This ride was also a total non-event.
Madigan feels incredibly narrow right now. This doesn’t bother me too much- after all, Moe is also very narrow! But Madigan’s much taller than Moe and lacks Moe’s fun, agile feel. He feels like a 2 x 4 precariously attached to wobbly stilts. I know this will improve as Madigan gets stronger, more balanced, and wider but it’s still kind of a weird feeling to sit.
I’m relieved and excited that riding him is not a big deal. I’m planning to get on him for easy walks once or twice a week in addition to baby school. Hopefully we can hit the trails when the weather cools off!