Thursday, October 2, 2014

TBT: My semester with a mare

In college, I took a class called "Care and Training of the Equine Athlete". We learned about conditioning schedules, feeding, maintenance, hoof care, and so on. We kept weekly journals about all our rides on every horse, but the culmination of the class was a twenty five mile competitive trail ride on a horse we were assigned at the beginning of the year.

out for a conditioning ride

With my involvement with the racehorses, I was given the hottest and--at least it seemed at times--the least desirable mount out of the bunch. Her name was Lu, and she was a 17yo Mustang/Arabian who had been around the block in the CTR and endurance world. She had gobs of experience on trails over me, and she was not at all afraid to show it.

lu and i on the right, a fellow carly and her paso fino mount armonico on the left

For all of her bossy nature, complete unwillingness to listen to me anywhere besides on the trail (arena work was not on her repertoire....ever), and zero interest in having a personal connection, she gave me a ton of confidence on trails that I didn't have before. If there was a mountainside we had to slide down that I wanted no part of, she simply let me sit up there, clinging to her breastplate, and picked her way down without fuss.

hamming it up on the train tracks. lu says, "home is this way, fool."
(obviously there was zero danger of a train coming. should i even have to point that out?)

We ended up coming in dead last at our CTR because my ride partner had to pull her horse for a lameness at the last second, and we ended up teamed with a very green pony who we had to do a lot of waiting around for and babysitting.

the night before our CTR. this picture pretty much sums up our entire relationship.

However, I still had a lot of fun out there, and Lu showed me the ropes--including pretty much trotting herself out before and after the ride, and obligingly stopping to drink whenever and wherever she felt the need on trail.

"stop taking my picture, lady. we have work to do."

On Monday, Lu passed away from colic. I had to laugh at every "RIP Lu" post I saw from my fellow classmates on facebook. They all described how much trouble she gave them, how she lived up to all the bad reputations mares get, and how she was kind of a miserable bitch. But she clearly effected all of us one way or another, and I don't think anyone can say she didn't teach us everything she could about trail riding.

about to head out, and she knows it.

So rest in peace to Lu, the marest of them all. I'm sure she's up there with one of two sisters, being a complete bossy bitch and loving every second of it.

12 comments:

  1. Awww :) What a neat experience - I want to go back to college now :) Gotta love those bossy bitch mares. Mine was named Victoria, and she taught me everything I know about dressage, including the lesser known movements such as sitting the bucking canter on the left lead and downward crouch under the tree branches. Beauty and a beast all in one.

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  2. Lu looks very cool - in the way only a bitchy half arab mare can - glad you got such a great education and experience from her :)

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  3. You got to trail ride for class! That sounds brilliant! Maybe if I would have ridden Lu I would stop being a pansy on the trails...

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  4. Every horse teaches us something, lol! Sounds like she was an interesting soul. RIP, Lu.

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  5. Aw, what a personality! Sounds like she was well loved despite her attitude :)

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  6. This is a very sweet post, though making me tearful

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  7. She sounds like she knew her job was to teach a lot of people a lot of things. Nice post

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  8. =) fond memories of a horse with lots of personality. RIP Lu!

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  9. RIP Lu. Gotta love a mare who knows her place in the world.

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  10. Man, I went to the wrong college. She was adorable but I have a soft spot for little bratty Arabs. They arent always loveable and fun to ride, but they have crazy heart and ability on trail. RIP Lu.

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