Nine days, six rides, one fall, and one new four-legged friend later and my time with the lovely mare Pebbles has come to an end. A big thank you again to her owner, Emily, for giving me the pleasure of riding her mare while she was out of town. It was an absolute blast!
Despite the bit of a rough start we had with her falling in the field, Pebbles and I continued to make progress ride after ride. After the first two rides in the field, my third day with her it was raining so we ended up playing in the arena. She seemed much less bothered about being inside than Luc did.
We set up some pool noodles on the ground for a bit of a challenge. We walked up to them on the ground before I mounted and Pebbles seemed brave and confident, so I was a little surprised when she was more hesitant under saddle. I urged her forward and instead of stepping over the noodle she stepped right on it. Naturally, it moved, and then, so did Pebbles. In warp speed. Backwards. Okay, that wasn’t what I was expecting. After a few more attempts and a few more times flying backwards, she did eventually manage to step over one without incident.
I also got to experience that ‘maritude’ I’ve heard so much about, that seems especially prevalent in the chestnut mare variety. It would seem that Pebbles really would have rather not cantered in the arena. When I gave her a little smack, she threw her head up and kicked out. But, she did pick up the canter, so in the end it was a win for me. Guess I’m the one with the bigger attitude.
The next day as a reward for being so good in the arena, we went on an hour long trail ride with Jen and our friend Manon. It was nice and relaxing, except for the bugs, which seemed to be picking on Pebbles. That resulted in lots of twitching, tail swishing and head tossing. Hoping to keep her from getting too many more bug bites, I spent the next ride working in the front grass ring. And I do mean working. Pebbles is no easy ride. She made me work for it, but we eventually came to an agreement where she would be soft and round. My final ride was more of the same. Hard work that paid off with progress and pride when Pebbles and I really seemed to get in sync.
Then we played musical horses, Jen getting on Pebbles and me getting on Luc. He felt like a completely different horse and it had only been two weeks since the last time I was on him! It’s amazing how quickly you get used to riding one horse. And even more amazing how when you go back to your regular ride things seem completely different.
While I loved riding Pebbles and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity, I have to say I missed my big grey beast. He really is one of a kind.
All in all I have to say that I’m pretty proud of me and Pebbles. She put up with me, and I pushed myself to work hard on an unfamiliar horse, despite the fact I hit the dirt very early on during our first ride together. Here are a few things I’ve learned after my time with Pebbles:
1. Some horses do actually know how to go forward without massive amounts of leg. Luc, perhaps you should be taking notes.
2. There is a horse more bothered by the bugs than Luc. Her name is Pebbles, and it doesn’t matter how much fly spray you apply or only one bug in the entire arena, it will find her, and it will drive her batty until you put her to work and get her mind off it.
3. If Luc is a two-by-four around the corners, then Pebbles is a steel beam. She bends even less than he does, at least when you first get started.
4. Falling off doesn’t have to bruise your confidence.
5. Getting back on from the ground will really boost it!
6. There is a feeling of pride when you work with a new horse and accomplish even little things like engagement and roundness.
It has been such a fantastic experience getting to see if my riding skills translate over to another horse, which after working with Pebbles I have say they do. After six rides she and I improved leaps and bounds and I am so proud of myself and feeling much more confident, albeit still a bit bruised from our rougher than average honeymoon period.