|Got to ride this total champ over the weekend!|
Luckily for me, this past Saturday afternoon I just happened to be in the neighborhood of my BFF Rachel and her fabulous OTTB, Toby. I had just finished up showing a farm about 15 minutes away from her barn, Rachel was there teaching, and Toby needed to be worked. What a happy coincidence!
I also carry paddock boots and a spare helmet in my car at all times, in case a situation like this arises. Thankfully my half chaps were also kicking around in my back seat. One must always be prepared to ride.
Rachel has been working really, really hard with Toby over the past few months, and let me tell you, it really shows. This horse was not too long ago pretty much a hot mess over fences, as well as going to the right on the flat. The horse I rode on Saturday was a total dreamboat in comparison. He was SO much more balanced and tractable on the flat, and instead of feeling like I was jumping a green horse, Toby took me to the fences, and nailed every single distance.
After not having really ridden for about a month, and not having ridden anything resembling a Thoroughbred in much longer than that, riding Toby on Saturday was a wonderful challenge for me. I had to adjust my riding to be much lighter in my hands and much stronger in my thighs - If I used too much rein to try and slow Toby down, or got even a little too strong in the contact, things got a little ugly and he'd just hide behind the bit. I had to totally re-discover how to use my upper leg!
I will also admit that I was a little nervous about jumping. (Hello, anxiety! Nice to see you again. Not.) Especially when Rachel set up a 2'6" oxer for us, I definitely had a bit of a "moment" and had to collect myself before having at it. Riding a horse that's not in my sportpony 'comfort zone' made all the fences look way, way scarier. But Toby has a wonderful, flat, easy-to-ride jump, and Rachel has turned him into a point-and-shoot jumping machine. Aim at fence. Add leg. Jump. Repeat. I bounced him over a bunch of little fences, including 2-stride and 1-stride combinations, and had a blast!
After I was done riding, Rachel climbed aboard and schooled Toby over some bigger fences - we're talking 3'6-3'9 bigger - in preparation for their jumper show the next day. Again, I'm just amazed at how far they both have come in the last four years and am beyond proud of them! They looked great, and I was able to help Rachel fine-tune her ride to make everything as smooth as possible. (Spoiler: Rachel and Toby were Champion of their 3'3 jumper division on Sunday!)
I'm so grateful for great friends with fabulous horses and indoor arenas!