I might be expanding Theo's circle of friends a bit. My friend that's been sharing Theo with me in her lessons is interested in a quarter lease on him. She'd ride him in one lesson and one free ride a week. She'd also have the option to do some shows. She wants to do 18" hunters and Intro/Training level dressage. This came up after Trainer A watched her canter all the way around the ring, completely focusing on herself, and Theo marching along like a trooper. They were both content, relaxed, and having a good time.
My friend did get a bit of a caution since she found Theo's second gear today. She usually keeps Theo in first gear (plopping pony) since she rides with no spurs, no whip, and no real desire to get after him. In her canter work, she was working on pushing more with her seat and less with her legs. That's how I ride my canter so when she got it, he shifted gears. Nothing dirty, just lifted his shoulders up and stretched out. She enjoyed it, but Trainer A suggested she stay in second and not try for third just yet. Third is a lot of pony. I love third gear, but I'm weird.
So what was I doing while she was cantering around my saint of a horse? I was riding my new paint friend, Buddy.
It's a rare horse that I actually call by name, but with a name like Buddy, what else do you need? Buddy is very handsome, super smart, and can be a bit of trouble. He's a former western pleasure horse that joined the lesson program when I bought Theo. He was actually purchased using the funds from Theo and he took on the students that needed a w/t/c horse. He's got super smooth gaits, is solid on the trails, and though he's just started jumping with me, he's figuring it out fast and is good with his shoulders.
The problem with being a smart horse is that they learn bad things as quickly as they learn good things. His canter was never very strong and he had some bad rides that left him with a bucking canter depart. It's kind of alarming watching him fling himself into a racing, downhill canter with some bucks thrown in. And then he starts racing around at the trot, trying to canter in every corner. Ugh. Beginners freak and stop asking, so he wins. He doesn't have to canter if he acts up like that. I think he was feeling fresh one cold day and figured out that he could be scary. So Trainer A has been throwing some advanced riders on him, including me, to straighten that out.
The bucking to start has been easy enough. I lift my hands up high enough to almost shove the reins up my nose during the transition. He's not agile enough to bronc with his head up. After a couple of transitions where he had no choice but to be a gentleman, he got the idea and I could start bringing my hands back down. The other trick was to show him that he can in fact go around a corner without falling on his face, panicking, and racing. The first couple of half halts weren't pretty, but he's so darn smart. He figured it out on our second pass and settled in to a quiet rhythm. We ended with him calmly stepping into his canter, going around the ring twice with a quiet, steady rhythm, and then trotting when told. I jumped off of him, shoved a cookie in his mouth, and called it a day.
He's a smart boy, he'll remember that. I never give Buddy treats because his leaser spoils him rotten and his ground manners can be terrible. It's a good thing he's so handsome and really quite sweet because man oh man, the smart ones are such pains in the butt!
And I found out Baby Pony is being leased by my copilot starting next month! He hit the jackpot! They'll be flying around at three phases this summer, I'm certain. She really wants to be an eventer and Baby Pony is everything sensible and steady. After jumping him through some grids and feeling for myself how clever he is with his feet, I think they'll be a match made in heaven. I'm so happy for the both of them.
All of this reminds me that show season is just around the corner. Everyone is picking out their dance partners for the summer. I went shopping at the tack shop and the show stuff is out while the winter stuff is on clearance. YES!
We're getting more snow tonight. NOOOOOOOOOO!