|On ear up, one ear on me.|
Multiple trainers and clinicians have compared Dino and I to an old married couple. We've been together for a long time, we know each other inside and out, we can read each others' minds, and have developed ways to work around each others' quirks and deficiencies. We've figured out how to tolerate the things about each other that aren't perfect, and exist quite happily in our little dysfunctional partnership. It may not be blue-ribbon-winning, but it's comfortable and it seems to work for us.
That being said, it was absolutely fascinating to watch another rider pilot Dino for the first time last week.
My longtime riding friend (and former blogger!) Cindy came out to the barn to visit last Friday afternoon. She helped set jumps for me, which allowed me to jump a sweet grid, and I had her hop on the EuroPony once I was done with the gymnastic exercise.
The thing about Cindy is that besides being a very competent rider, she doesn't have any relational baggage with Dino.
She doesn't know that he avoids the end of the jump field by the dry lot gate because sometimes it's slippery on that side.
She's never felt him suck back and buck when he has a case of the "I Don't Wanna's".
She's never had to fight with him for 45 minutes straight to get a forward response.
She's never avoided asking him for something because she's just too exhausted to deal with another tantrum.
She's never cantered him down to a fence and wondered if he would jump, or if she'd experience the brick-wall-feeling of yet another refusal.
And Dino went for Cindy like he'd never done any of those Bad Pony things, because she rode him like he's a Good Pony, without the influence of my own massive set of baggage or an intimate knowledge of Dino's troubled history.
Sure, he tested her and it took a whole lot of leg for her to keep him going, and they had some miscommunications over the handful of small fences they jumped, but in general, Dino just went around and did his job as he was asked.
And it was eye-opening.
I wonder how much more we could achieve if I rode as if we had no baggage?