Had a chance to go try a horse today, and in the process to put into practice some of the concepts Lizzie was working on yesterday in her lesson. The horse is a 9 y/o Paint mare named Kat, about 16 hands. She is for sale but I could take her on free lease until she sells, meanwhile competing her and learning from her. She is quite out of shape but super willing. I watched her owner ride her first so I could see how she moves and jumps. Then I hopped on. The first problem I had was putting way too much leg on and getting a jig in the walk. She was much more sensitive than I had anticipated, but I liked that about her. We picked up a trot and she had the tendency to fall in tracking left, and overbend to the right. I'm just finally learning how to feel where a horse tends to put their haunches each direction so that I can correct them and ride them straight. She had a very soft mouth and the trick was not to take a hold of her face without having a lot of push from behind. That's hard for her right now since she's out of shape, so we let her stick her nose out and just asked her to trot on. Her canter was lovely, albeit weak, and her transitions were super, she was very responsive and trying hard. C came into the ring and set up a few small fences to pop her over. We started with trotting a cross rail, which was hard for her bc of her fitness. She would generally put a canter stride or two in, but C said it was fine as long as I kept my leg on all the way to the base of the fence. I could really feel the difference in the quality of the jump if I came to it in a poky trot. When we started cantering it was even more apparent. If I didn't establish the quality of the canter BEFORE the turn, the jump was no good. A good canter and balanced turn almost always resulted in a nice distance and pretty jump. Naturally, I wanted to throw my upper body forward (a bad habit of mine). She was a smaller horse for me and I have a very tall upper body, so I had to really concentrate on keeping my body tall and waiting for her to jump up to me. It will take a LOT more practice ;) I haven't jumped higher than a crossrail in years. I liked the way she jumped and how game she was despite being tired and hot. Afterwards she walked around on the buckle to cool down. A very sweet mare with a big heart from what I could tell. I felt very safe on her and comfortable on her.
So when are we bringing her home, you might ask? Well, C has a few concerns about the maintenance she might require to compete again. Because I'm so broke right now with vet bills and the like, it's not sensible for me to take on a horse that would need a lot of vet work. The question we need to assess is whether she's just weak behind and would strengthen with time and fitness, or if she has a few physical issues that would need veterinary maintenance. So...we will see. I really felt like I clicked well with her.
Here's a super short video clip of her owner on her:
I'll keep you posted. Until then, God Bless and have a great weekend!!