Who’s a Rider? (part 1)

This post is about why Rugby Guy is riding Z and not me. After all I do have the riding experience to do what he is doing and I’m reaching a point where I need to take over the training as there are things he doesn’t know how to teach her (i.e. giving to seat pressure being a biggie). So why is he riding her and not me?

Something you may not be aware of but since the death of Dear One I have not ridden much. I did go and ride Rock (one of Molly’s horses) with Molly two summers ago and caught a few rides on Big Guy before I decided to permnamently retire him post-Pelvic Fracture.

Not to be melodramatic about it but the simple fact is that after Dear One’s death, riding just didn’t seem interesting anymore. I seriously discussed with husband and my closest brother D, about giving up horses altogether. My heart is/was too depressed.

Having Rugby Guy has kept me on a schedule, keeping the consistency of Z’s training. Just like any exercise program, if there is another person involved I will stay faithful to my plan. It’s at a point that I meet him twice a week to watch the ride, and he rides two more times a week on his own. This frees up more of my time, while Z still gets worked. This works well with a new carpool situation I’ve set up for my son to get home from school.

There’s another key component as to why Rugby Guy is riding Z which I would like to let you know about. I’m getting older and I simply don’t bounce as well as I used to do. I’m not a kid any more and this last year I’ve had two injuries – one to my right leg that took 8 weeks to heal, and the shoulder injury which has taken a year to heal.

When I started interviewing potential riders I was looking for someone with a high-bounce factor. They needed to be willing to ride out bucks and spooks – and NOT GET TENSE. This is a real gift for a rider – to ride out something that is pretty damn scary and then just go back to the art of riding without missing a beat. You don’t see this type of riding except from people experienced with riding green horses on a regular basis.

Several of the folk I interviewed were just girls who wanted to be with horses. Nope. They would be shaking like a pile of Jell-O after Z threw them off during the first ride.

The next was a Cowboy-guy who was stolid and a bit stupid. He wouldn’t understand my directions (couldn’t even change his way of doing things when I asked him to brush my horse a certain way) so working with him would have been cutting stone with a butter knife.

Another person had quite a bit of experience but recently had a very scary accident on a racehorse (she was an exercise rider). She was going to use Z to “recover” and that simply wasn’t going to work either. One reason I gave up riding lessons was the need for my horses to teach anyone, anything. She could get her own horse for that.

No matter how advanced her skill level, the mind was going to kick the nervous system into overdrive when Z did a levitation act. Your nervous system reacts in two ways – one is involuntary so wishing you wouldn’t react isn’t going to stop your body from reacting, even if your mind intellectually says different.

In the end I chose Rugby Guy and he turned out to be the best to ride Z:

1.) He’s a bit of a thrill seeker. He told me about playing football with a buddy while they were both mounted on just broke two year olds who needed “de-spooking.” He’s into Mixed Martial Arts as he found other martial arts too tame. He keeps telling me he wants Z to buck him off – he wants her to show him what she’s got. 

Is that me? Hell, no. Not me by a long shot. I’m cautious. I weigh the risks. I know what it’s like to be in the ER getting your head stitched back together. Thanks, got the t-shirt and not interested in another one.

2.) He rides the same whether it’s normal riding, or through/after a spook. He can maintain a level of relaxedness no matter if Z takes off at a canter. He told me that when they were in the pasture and she switched to canter he didn’t realize it for a couple of strides because the change was so smooth.

So far I haven’t seen anything that Z has done that I couldn’t have sat out. But I really doubt I could have maintained that level of relaxedness. This is a real art.

3.) After any naughtiness, he can demand that she continue her session. After something scary (like a buck) I might ride a bit more and then shakingly slip off. Rugby Guy can keep pushing Z’s buttons until she settles down into what he really needs from her. This is a big thing for Z to learn – behaving badly does not end work; intimidation does not work!

There are several reasons why I hired him to do it and I encourage anyone out there, that if due to time, injury, life or whatever, you need to get your horse rode, then find someone to do it! Don’t think it’s wimpy to pay for riding or not upholding the Macho-Horse-Woman image.

Just pick the right person for the horse at the right time, and all will go well.

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One Response to Who’s a Rider? (part 1)

  1. Kathy says:

    After all, it’s not all about the riding. So many more things to do with a horse. I can easily pass the entire day with my horse, never even get on him, and call it a very good day. RG sounds like the perfect person for what you wanted. Nice that you found him.

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