Last week I rode Desi, the grey-spotted Appaloosa who is the 'old man' of the school. Desi, as background, is rather a character. He's 35 (in /people/ years), and was actually retired from the school several years ago, and moved to the attached farm to enjoy his retirement. He threw a fit over this, and would follow people around the ring, or even demand to go back to his school stall, or would follow students around. In the end, since Desi's as healthy as a horse many years younger -- his only real problem is that he's blind in his right eye -- they surrendered to fate and brought him back.
Desi evidently also decides certain students are 'his' very quickly and gets faintly possessive. Apparently I have earned this status; Desi had another obligation this evening, so wasn't available for my lesson. Instead, they tried me out on Chester, and when I brought Chester out of his stall and began to groom him and get out his tack, Desi gave me this absolutely baleful, reproachful glare and tried to steal Chester's tack out of my arms.
One problem with Desi, however, is that his gait is /too/ smooth. A student doesn't get a good feel for a horse's rhythm off of him, and so he's an absolutely horrible horse to learn to post on. Chester, on the other hand, is immense. He's sway-backed, and the /lowest/ point of his back is level with the top of my head. And his gait is... uhm... the opposite of too smooth. Of course, being immense and sway-backed, he uses an entirely different collection of tack -- a breastplate, different bounce pads, different fasteners -- which was also a bit puzzling for me on my second lesson. :)
Chester was an interesting experience. He's usually ridden by beginning-intermediate riders, and so about fifteen minutes of the hour involved an ongoing dispute between Chester and I about who, precisely, was navigating. Eventually we reached a sort of understanding, and settled down a bit more, though Chester tested me several more times. Once he was going more or less where I wanted him to, I started to get the hang of two-point and of posting, once I had a feel for Chester's rhythm; this was apparently why Kara put me on him this week. I can't maintain it for very long, but I tried posting five times, and I succeeded three of the five. I still need a lot of practice and work, but Kara says this is a very good start.
Of course, there's still a lot of areas I need to work on. I managed to keep Chester close to the edge of the ring about half of the time, but about the other half he kept pulling inwards; he and Derby (the horse my classmate was riding) would both try to cut across the ring to catch up and get in single-file.
At any rate, though he was a brat when I tried to get him ready and at the beginning of the lesson, Chester was very affectionate when I groomed him afterwards. Got him put away, scrubbed down the tack, and headed back home. Judging from Chester's gait and the fact that I'm already a little sore from it, I think I'm gonna be in a great deal of achey pain tomorrow and this weekend.
Still, I can't wait until next Thursday!