Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FMNM Blog Hop: Fear


There are so many things that have scared me in the past and so many things that scare the shit out of me now that I feel I could do this blog hop from Alyssa once a week for the rest of my life.

What has been the most fearful moment you have ever experienced with a horse?

Down banks? Hate them.

Jumping downhill period? I just soiled my breeches.

Making a fool of myself in front of my fellow competitors, spectators, and/or judges? Fucking crippling anxiety, and then we crash through a fence because I'm so nervous about crashing through a fence, and my mind is all, "Fucking told you so. Fear affirmed."

But I'm only going to pick one thing, and while it's not just one specific incident, the story of how Red Pony and I got our beginnings is probably when I was the most chicken shit on a horse in my entire life.
the most majestic and naughty horse beast ever

Most of you weren't around when Red was the main horse in this blog, and Bobby was simply a dumb ugly baby just sitting around being the second string, so this is a bonus post in that you also get to learn our story.

At then end of my first semester in college where I was majoring in Thoroughbred Management (which isn't even a degree offered there anymore because it's as useless as it sounds), it was announced that we'd just been gifted a new racehorse. My friend P and I went with the BM to pick him up at Highcliff Farm where he'd recently been sent to let down and get gelded. He was five years old, a beautifully bred son of Boundary out of a Relaunch mare, and we were told the second we got out of the truck that we'd better have high fences because he kept jumping theirs to try to get to mares. 

about to get up to something naughty, guaranteed

He was led out and immediately P and I were like, "He looks like Secretariat!" Because he was chestnut with a stripe, and really--isn't that what every horse person that sees a chestnut with a stripe says? The only problem was he was also very small--he maybe hit 16 hands on a good day, but I usually told people he was between 15.2 and 15.3. So instead of Big Red for Secretariat, he was dubbed Little Red, and later just Red. 

It was pretty much love at first sight for me, and I signed him on as my Special Project for the next semester once the owners decided they didn't want him to race again after all. Because I was working towards my first summer galloping at the track, he got added to our sorry string of racehorses, and while we waited for the weather to clear I rode him exclusively in an exercise saddle while I built up my leg strength. 

Then it was time to move out to our conditioning field. I had already learned to gallop out there on the world's most dependable racehorse, Derby, and I'd spent all winter riding various other Thoroughbreds in some state of about-to-be-on or off the track work so I was feeling pretty confident taking the pony love of my life out there for a romp.

in hand schooling because he was so very naughty.
but also so pretty.

Nothing could have prepared me for my first gallop with Red though. He was a horse obviously used to being galloped in draw reins, and he curled his tiny mini-tank body into a beautiful little ball and promptly took off with me.

I knew the whole theory on how to slow a racehorse, and good old Derby and most of the other Thoroughbreds responded just fine to standing in my stirrups, not taking up more rein, and leveraging my considerable leg strength against them.

But Red Pony tucked his cute little nose to his chest and kept right on trucking.

"i would never."

And so began a long spring of the same stunt pulled over and over. I actually begged to be ponied off of him most of the time, and spent most of the time crying to my poor teacher about how hard this was.

My fondest runaway memory was when he was in the middle of taking off with me, and he suddenly propped which threw me up onto his neck. Having gotten me in such a precarious position, he spun around and launched himself into the corn field we were galloping running wildly beside and calmly came to a halt. I ended up hanging upside down from his neck with my legs clamped around his shoulders. I slowly lowered myself to the ground and gave him the Death Stare which he returned with a very triumphant, "Ha ha ha ha ha, that was awesome. I almost got you off that time!"

The thing with Red was, he was never ever malicious about anything he did. He was quirky and cheeky, he loved to pick fights, and he loved to see what he could get away with, but he always gave in with a cheery attitude eventually.

plotting...

So while he scared the shit out of me, and I entered track life convinced I was surely going to die the first time I sat on a horse, it turned out that pretty all other racehorses ever are easier to gallop than Red was. I came back armed with more knowledge and tricks on how to deal with unruly creatures, and to a horse that had earned himself a spot on the shit list over the summer.

That Valentine's Day Red was officially signed over to me because he was a nuisance and completely unsuitable for pretty much anything but being ridden by me--not because I was so much of a better rider than anyone, but because I loved his unruly nature.

Eventually he settled down and became a dream to gallop--when not spooking at changes in terrain, or leaping sideways just because he felt like it--and channeled his eccentricities to jumping. But I will always credit Red with putting the fear of going fast in me, and showing me that no one could possibly be as bad as he ever was.

snaffle mouth in wide open spaces. none of us ever would have guessed it. 


15 comments:

  1. Aw lovely story! I had a horse like Red in my life early on. He put the fear of being run away with into me, but for some reason I wouldn't give him up. Luckily that fear has been overcome, and I can appreciate what a cool horse I had the opportunity to ride.

    Red was gorgeous, btw. :)

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  2. Awww, good story :) I always wondered who that horse was in the b&w white picture

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  3. That is a great story! I will have to go waaaay back in your blog and read some other Red stories :)

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  4. Great story! That is so cool that you galloped racehorses. I'm envious of the skills Red gave you to ride shenannigans!

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  5. Great story, awesome life experience that Red horse gave you. I would also never, ever guess that you were afraid of going fast.

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  6. Love this story. And that first picture of you guys together... Priceless. You literally have that, "What did I get myself into" look... And his face says, "You have nooo idea."

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  7. What a sexy horse beast. Something about racehorses and running off. Sometimes, it's not all that fun. But, they definitely change what riding is all about!

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  8. i really like reading about Red - seems like he was a pretty amazing character. getting run off with like that is, uh, NOT on my list of things to do lol - but i can totally see how it'd equip you for pretty much every other horse lol

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  9. Wow, what a handsome guy! And you can totally see the wheels turning in his cute little head is just about every picture.

    I'm glad you got to be with him, even if his time was too short. Hugs.

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  10. Love the story, with the hot little mare I'm riding, I'm slowly becoming appreciative of horses with a solid go button. But I don't think I'll ever be able to deal with the running away!

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  11. Having never known Red, this was a cool read. He sounds adorable and just my cup o tea

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  12. I missed the early years of the blog, Red sounds like a once in a lifetime. Glad you got to share your time with him & learn so much

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  13. Love this story, what is it about the crazy ones that is so endearing?

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  14. Oh fond memories of such a sassy horse! Sounds terrifying to get run away with like that though, when you realize the normal solutions are not working...

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