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Riding, Roman

[Riding] Ladd-itude

(Okay, it's not an alliterative title, but I'm too tired to come up with another alliterative one right now.)

So I'm still on Ladd; apparently that is who I will be on for the foreseeable future. Going from a fundamentally lazy horse like Roman, and a genuinely 'cold' horse like Banjo, to someone who is both responsive and rather 'hot' like Ladd, has proven to be quite a shift.

Now, as a bit of background Ladd's a very unfortunate horse to groom and tack up. He's a lovely fleabitten-grey thoroughbred, nearly perfect conformation (though he has a tumor behind one ear, alas), very athletic. He is considered one of the absolute best lesson horses; he's very responsive, he's very agile, he jumps quite well and he turns on a dime.

But there's a reason a horse suitable for serious competition ended up sold to a riding school: his ground manners are atrocious, and no past owner -- nor the school -- have managed to correct them. He reaches out and tries to nip at things when he wants attention, he tries to eat the grooming brushes, he chews and sucks on the cross-ties, he reaches out and grabs people's hair to pull it, and generally acts like a petulant 'I MUST BE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION' toddler.

I've been told the appropriate response is to bop him on the nose lightly, as if one were bapping a dog on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. In my experience from tonight, that makes him stop for approximately 45 seconds, at which point he forgets that he was disciplined and goes back to trying to chew on your sweatshirt, your hair, your helmet, the grooming brushes, etc. It also doesn't help that Ladd's the first horse I've ever ridden with a martingale in his tack, so my tacking up was a little slower the first time (giving him more opportunities to try and eat my sweatshirt sleeves).

Once in the ring, he's extremely well-behaved. Which is good, both for the sanity of students, and for Ladd's own life-expectancy. :P

This week, we had a third person riding with us (stable-helper Brooke), and we got a little bit of a late start. The first part of the lesson was all of us doing trotting and balance exercises. I definitely didn't feel as insecure as I did last week, as I guess I'm adapting to the slab-sided Ladd. We got some pretty good trots in.

The newest student couldn't consistently maintain a trot, though, and got a bit frustrated. So next, the instructor pulled him in to talk to, while she had Brooke and I canter around the ring. I still don't feel nearly as in control of Ladd's cantering as I did Banjo, but after figuring out last week what the bad habit I'd learned on Banjo was, at least I didn't feel like I was going to go flying off of Ladd. We got off on the right lead all times, though I never made a complete lap before Ladd's speed became too much and I had to drop to the walk to ensure I stayed in control.

I did have one kind of frightening moment when I felt my outside foot slip out of the stirrup. The idea of cantering a hot TB at high speed without one stirrup did not appeal to me in the least. Luckily, I brought Ladd to a stop and caught the stirrup up again. (And took a pause to catch my breath. Whew!)

After the cantering, Brooke and I came into the center and the instructor sent my classmate out to practice trotting further. Brooke and I had some time free to practice in the center of the ring, so we decided to drop our stirrups and do stretches and balance work while walking serpentines. Nothing too exciting, but Ladd did keep moving, at least.

When that was done, we did a little bit of jumping, but only in a 'come down this line, stop at the wall in a straight line from the jump' way. Well, the new student went over trotting poles, and Brooke and I did a small jump. The first time, I didn't do too well and wasn't happy with myself, but we did it two more times each before we ran out of time, and by the third one I felt I'd gotten it down more. The instructor even said the only thing she'd knock a point off for was that I glanced down when resuming the trot rather than relying on feel to check my diagonal.

Grooming Ladd post-lesson was uneventful other than much attempting-to-munch me, and several light bops on the nose. By the end, he had stopped, but partly because I bribed/distracted him with a horse cookie after he'd behaved for several minutes. Cleaned tack -- savoring the hot water we used to soap and rinse the leather, 'cause it was cold enough that by this point my fingers were completely numb! -- and fed the usual suspects, then drove home.

...and got stuck in traffic, causing the twenty minute drive back from the tables to take an hour and twenty minutes. Argh.


and got stuck in traffic, causing the twenty minute drive back from the tables to take an hour and twenty minutes. Argh.


Hey, since we're moving to the Tower, we might perhaps link up for dinner easier sometime... I need to give you the Elizabeth Moon stuff back...