With Fiona safely installed in her paddock in Aiken (and proving to be a pain to catch), I find myself in a role that I had for many, many years of my riding: catch riding. If it's got four legs and a tail, I'll ride it. It makes it easy for people to find me partners and keeps me from becoming a Fiona specialist.
This week, my ride was Buck.
Buck (or Bucky, as I refer to him) is an absolutely adorable buckskin pony. I theorize that he's a Welsh pony, but I haven't really bothered to investigate. He's about 14h, maybe an inch taller, but definitely all pony. He has the most adorable expression. You go to visit him and you are greeted with two big, dark eyes and two pricked up ears with an expression of 'hey, how're you, what we gonna do?'.
He's a little out of shape, so the cheerful eagerness quickly falls away to lazy pony syndrome. He was not amused when I informed him I don't kick, I go for the crop. Damn it, that was like work! Where were the little girls that adored him and gave him treats and let him just trot? But I stayed out of his face and he enjoyed popping over cross rails. Our trainer popped the fences up, probably 2'3" range, and he hopped about the course. After each line he'd flip his ears back and falter like 'are we done?', I'd give him a kick, and we'd canter on to the next line.
We didn't do much, since he was just getting back into shape, but what a change of scenery. For one, much closer to the ground. For two, much wider. My hips did not appreciate that! Also kicking while jumping. I can't remember the last time I had to encourage a horse toward a fence as opposed to 'whoa, damn it, it's two feet tall!'. Well, I can remember the last time, that was the horse I was leasing before I got Fiona. Over a year ago.
I had a fabulous lesson, and got razzed heavily for the fact that I fit the pony just fine and dandy. I don't look silly riding large ponies, they take my leg up just fine. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's very convenient. I love ponies.
But I miss my mare.
We'll see who I ride next week. I'll be doing some catch riding on the princess's best friend to help me stay in shape, which is also a completely different ride. This winter will be good for me, I think. If nothing else, I'll get to take the grand school pony tour.