Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The "Broke" Horse, why, how, and where we're going next

Last week at my lesson with Eric as Sunny and I circled the indoor in a collected, properly-bent-on-the-circle, nice, round sitting trot, our combined efforts resulted in Eric's somewhat surprised sounding, "Way to go Sunny, we'll get you broke yet."

Hmmm... In my dictionary, broke is when the horse I'm riding goes where I point it, at something approximating the speed I ask for, stops promptly when signaled, doesn't scrape me off against handy trees and fence posts, doesn't bite, kick, rear or do other uncivil things, and in general respects my space.  Throw in easy to catch, picks up feet on request, loads, and goes down the trail without having a cow when it sees a... well, a cow, and there you have it: a broke horse. 

And by that definition, Sunny already qualifies.
In Eric's dictionary, broke carries a lot more baggage.

So why, if I already have a broke (for me) horse am I taking hunt seat lessons?  From a philosophical perspective, I just plain like learning, especially from a good teacher, and I'm definitely doing that.  And a big part of it's practical.  If you've read this blog for a while, you know that for several years I tried without much success to fix a horse that trotted with his nose in the air and his back hollow.  Not good for him.  Not comfortable for me.   We're finally working through that.  

A second practical issue was just being a better rider in general.  Part three was having more confidence riding.  I'm getting both those places - not always quickly, and not without backsliding occasionally, but I'm getting there.

So do I care if Sunny's "broke" to Eric's standards... er... well... no. Sure, I'd like us to be able to pass muster, I guess.  But it's because ultimately, I want to know how to get the results myself - and because I want Sunny to learn to carry himself properly.  NOT because I'm intending to go tear up the show ring on a push-button mount.  Good thing, too!  Sunny, bless his adorable, fuzzy, square little body, doesn't have the conformation needed to show at the upper levels - something Eric's been (kindly) clear about.  

If I was really interested in showing him, I might actually care that we'll never make a splash in the show ring.  But dressing up to go in circles has never been something I've aspired to.   Oh, we might do a couple of local shows this summer just for fun, since I'll have the time this year.  But if I had to pick something for the two of us to compete at, I'd go with competitive trail or one of those cowboy-challenge-type things - something a bit less circular in nature.

T's Amyra is apparently a different kettle of show-ring fish, though.  As I cooled Sunny out the other night we were talking about her and what we - T and I, that is - intend to do with her. (Show ring, cow horse, trail horse, pasture ornament, brood mare - Okay, so not that last!

One of Eric's questions was how competitive am I (not very), because he thinks she has huge natural potential.  Translated, I think that means he's decided he can show her and win.  My response was that successful showing to me is doing better than I did the time before whether I place accordingly or not - I'm not in it to beat everybody else, because I don't have any control over them.  

Not exactly the answer he was hoping for, I think.  But... it might be fun to see where Amyra can get to.  Still mulling it over, because it's a big commitment.   I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of tempted.... 


Tammy said...

I love this post because I feel exactly the same way. I have a broke horse (when she wants to be)but she could be better at more things than just what I do. I think its me that needs to be more broke or as you mentioned, become a better rider for my horse. I love to take lessons for that reason. The bad thing is I don't have TIME to take lessons. I just want to ride! LOL. Winter would seem like the logical time, but to come home at dark, catch a horse in the cold, trailer and drive to lessons a 1/2 hour away and then bring home a wet horse, unload in the cold... excuses, excuses... but damn good ones.

I want that broke horse that your Eric talks about but it does take effort. It is pretty cool that you are doing these lessons and can't wait to hear more.

SunnySD said...

Thanks - and I know exactly what you mean. Dark, cold, trailer... Bleh. But then I go, and it's a wonderful feeling when I can actually internalize something new. Of course, if I take Sunny when it's this cold I don't sleep the night after worrying about him being chilly and stiff...

When I went for my first lesson and Eric asked me what my goals were, I said, "I want to be a better rider." Having very little idea what that entailed... And overall it's been great. But I still love that feeling I get when I look out between Sunny's ears with his nose pointed down the road the best.