Brain Transplant

Gina has been my problem child horse pretty much since I bought her. She’s haughty and imperious and petulant to boot.

At our last barn, she was turned out on about six acres with two to three geldings. She ran the show, regularly nipping and kicking the boys just to remind them who was really in charge. She got two meals a day, but was hard to catch anyway. (We’re talking two-hour-chase-in-July hard.) She did inexplicable things like pull back while tied, totally unprompted. She just seemed cranky. There’s no other word for it.

I will immediately buck you off upon mounting.

With that history, is it any surprise I think Gina’s had a brain transplant somewhere between moving into the cow pasture and moving into the new barn? Somehow, she’s become this pleasant creature who approaches me in a 20+ acre field. Two people have gushed to me about how sweet and friendly my horses are. (Moe, sure, but Gina?! What?)

I am a nice horse. Bring me the cookies, human!

And let’s talk rides. I headed out three times last week: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Since I’m going to try to like…accomplish stuff this year with both horses, I typically ride them both when I’m at the barn. Gina was pretty pleasant on Wednesday. We’ve been working in the flat, grassy area near the road. It’s perfect for dressage schools and I enjoy the traffic whizzing by. (It’s kind of soothing.)

Friday was kind of an epiphany. I’ve been working both horses at the walk for the most part, since they’re so out of condition. Moe likes long walks in the woods, but Gina gets bored. (Moe has the IQ of a loaf of bread; he likes anything.) She needs more to think about. There’s only so many circles, serpentines, leg yields, and halt-walk transitions you can practice before she turns into a giant, twitchy sourpuss. Instead of sticking with the plan of walk 25 minutes, trot 5 minutes, I left my watch in the car and walked Gina until I felt her round through her back and start to come underneath herself. Then I let her trot. And pushed her at the trot. I envisioned Anne chiding me to push my shoulders back, lift my inside rein. And lo and behold, Gina put in a very solid 10 minutes or so of trot work. She was a little heavy on her forehand, but she was trying (and mostly succeeding)! She felt so perfect that we even cantered- just one huge circle in each direction, but it was positively joyous.

Saturday was fundamentally a repeat of Friday, except with the addition of Johnny. He caught and groomed Moe for me; he even picked Moe’s hooves, which is quite an accomplishment for him. Moe was good, but kept moving around to mug Johnny and me for treats. While I was riding, Johnny sat next to a big tree and watched; Gina was deeply suspicious about this spectator, but was fine once she had something else to think about.

Where are the promised cookies, human?

I finally put together her dressage bridle; I found my missing loose ring French link snaffle. I’m excited to have that bit on her again. (She’s been going in Moe’s eggbutt Dr. Bristol and doesn’t really like it.) I’m also excited at the prospect of showing her on the local dressage circuit.

Mostly, though, I’m excited to have a horse I can catch and ride again!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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