|It all came about because
Small Boss (Charlotte) was building up to
their first outing when she suddenly thought
that she had better look at the BD test she
was preparing for which happened to be
Novice 37 contains counter
canter (easy peasy) ; it also contains
rein-back which 'Miss Tiã Maria'
mistranslated as 'lets rear a bit' and throw
in a nap for good measure. I told you there
was a language barrier !
Now , I can now cope with most situations
(Tiã spooks in slow motion which gives me
ample time to grab my balance strap on my
saddle) and even slight rearing because MGB
used to do it when she felt trapped in front
but I loathe and detest napping.
Perhaps someone out there, maybe someone
from British Dressage , can explain to me of
what value rein-back actually is in a the
training of a novice horse. Having invested
lots of time and effort into making sure
that Tiã goes forward into the contact, I am
now confusing the poor horse with 'now lets
Most horses can perform most of the
movements used in the scales of training
naturally but I have yet to see a horse
position itself on a square halt, take three
of four steps backwards and then trot off
with its head between its knees in a
straight line . Maybe you know of a horse
that does this thing . I can see the value
of the movement later on in training because
you want your horse to obey you in all
things but maybe it’s a bit much expecting a
novice horse to be able to do it at this
Suffice to say, at the time of writing, I
haven’t ridden my horse for over two weeks
now and I suppose this is the great beauty
of having your horse on a professional yard
is that when something goes very, very wrong
, I have lots of back up in the shape of the
Small Boss has dressed Tiã up in bondage
gear (side reins underneath her legs like a
martingale) and running reins . Now it takes
me longer to dress Tiã each morning than it
did to dress five small wriggly children in
school uniform , make three completely
different packed lunches , get myself ready,
drive to 3 different schools etc. You know
the drill !
Not only does Tiã wear all the gear, she has
to have her mane neatly braided each day to
stop the reins from pulling it out
.(Charlotte complained about mouthfuls of
mane restricting her cursing abilities) . I
can put an Arab plait in her mane in 3
minutes flat now . And to think one of the
great attractions of having an Iberian horse
was that I would never have to plait again .
Generally, we don’t do gadgets at the yard.
Big Boss once had dinner with the great
Artur Kottas of the Spanish Riding School
who when asked what he thought of the use of
running reins said "I don’t mind the use of
the running rein if you are a good rider;
but then if you are a good rider, you should
not need to use them !". So we resort to
gadgets only when there are no other options
We think that Tiã is going through a
transitory period both physically and
mentally . She’s clever (too clever
according to Charlotte) and sensitive and
she’ s trying is all on for size. I suppose
she is a stroppy teenager and I may have to
re-christen her "Kevina" .
I don’t think she was fed a lot in Portugal
because she has certainly changed shape
since she got here . Her neck used to have a
break in it around the fourth vertebra which
made it look rather weedy and she was very
herring gutted. I suspect that giving her
very little food meant that she was
infinitely more rideable .
Certainly, she was very unfit when she
arrived as ten minutes on the lunge in trot
brought her out into a muck sweat and now
stuffed full of food and feeling confident
in her surroundings , she is thinking "Hey,
I like it ‘ere . Zeese pipples , zey geeve
me ze good food ana nic-a bedroom. What else
canna I get away wiz!".
Another thing we have discovered is that she
has been beaten at some time after someone
has got off her back as she had a tendency
to shoot sideways away from you as though
someone had dismounted and then hit her so
we have spent another two weeks sorting out
that problem. She now stands as still as a
rock when you get on and off her.
My husband on hearing that I had not ridden
her for two weeks asked me if she was really
the horse for me and was I not tempted to
sell her to which I retorted - When you got
ill or a bit stroppy, I didn’t get rid of
you did I ?. I just toughed it out until it
got better !
Yesterday, I watched her and the beautiful
Felix lovingly groom each other over the
stable door Felix stropping her neck with
his tongue until her neck was soaking wet
whilst Tiã closed her eyes in ecstasy and
accepted Felix’s devoted ministrations and
it brought a tear to my eye (ahh!).
Today the vet came to give her a ‘flu
booster and he took one look at her and said
'Stunning', then he walked around her and
said 'just beautiful !'. He gave her the jab
(she stood on her front end like a
Lipizanner in the Spanish School whilst he
struggled with the syringe between his teeth
whilst dodging her waving front legs ) and
afterwards dropped a kiss on her white nose
promising her that next time , he would
bring her a nice horse treat to soften the
blow (or the sting in this case) .
I have never, ever seen a vet respond to a
horse in that way in my life and he was a
big, burley Scotsman.
It’s true you know, that the outside of a
horse is good for the inside of a man (or
woman) and although things have not gone as
planned over the last month , I couldn’t
part with her now.
I loved MGB and thought that I couldn’t feel
the same about another horse ; just goes to
show how much I knew !
Next Time : Tiã and I go back to school -
six long months of lunge lessons every day
ahead of us - OUCH!
Until next time...
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