Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Catch-up: Rowdy

With Laredo's sore shoulder and Steen's cut leg, I've found myself a bit horseless. Of course Brian is more than happy to share Bear, but Bear is just so much Brian's horse. And of course me riding Bear means Brian doesn't ride him. It feels like stealing.

But one day when I went out to clean Steen's leg I ended up chatting with Marissa, who is Cathi's daughter and the barn manager. She has a horse named Rowdy, who she inherited due to a death in the family.

Rowdy is a 12 year old Quarter Horse gelding, and he's a little out of shape at the moment. And by out of shape I mean fat. Marissa has been riding him some, but when I lamented my lack of horse to ride she said, "Oh. You should ride Rowdy. He could really use the exercise."

I'm not always up for riding other people's horses, but Marissa is casual in how she rides, and knows me well enough to be comfortable being 100% hands off. She's fine with me using my own tack, and my own methods. Which meant I could ride without worrying about teaching or unteaching something that would make her life difficult.

So my next trip to the barn I hiked out to the feed lot and came back with Rowdy in tow. He's an interesting color. I guess he's just brown. But it's that sort of brown that seems almost black sometimes, and fades to a lighter brown on the mane and tail. He's also blind in one eye (the blindness was caused by an injury) and that makes handling him a little different. He has a bit of tendency to crowd me going through gates, but I figured out this is because he can't see me once he passes a certain point, and he gets close trying to keep track of where I am. I switched my method to keeping a little bit of light pressure on the lead rope to guide him around the gate and keeping my elbow out to poke him if he got too close, and he quickly started to get better about the crowding.


Under saddle, he surprised me. The first ride I was prepared to spend more or less the whole time working on just getting a passable soft feel, but he actually gave to the bit within seconds of me putting pressure on the reins. So after a few flexes and backs, we started off with walking.

He responds to the legs fairly well, but he does have a higher energy level than both Laredo and Bear, though not quite as high as Steen's. Our first ride started out so well I got a  bit overly ambitious during my first ride and asked him for a little too much, and he did start to get nervous at that point. His main method of misbehavior is trying to spurt off towards the barn or back towards his pasture, and when he gets agitated he starts looking for support elsewhere. I brought him back to me with some gentle short serpentines. He strikes me as a horse that needs a bit of extra support from his rider. But he does look for support from his rider, which means he is willing to be guided if you can convince him you're worth following.

I rode him twice, and the second time was even better than the first. The blindness does affect him. He has a harder time bending to the right than to the left, and his head is always cocked a bit to the left side. But he's very willing and sweet and I honestly had a lot nicer time with him than I expected to. A couple of other people at the barn have had trouble with him, and I guess I can see why. He's the sort of horse you need to be firm with sometimes and soft with at others. I was pleased though, riding him, at how easy it was for me to sort out when to support him and when to correct him. By the end of my second ride I was already feeling pretty comfortable.


Marissa was as grateful to me for riding him as I was to her for loaning him to me, and it was so interesting to spend a bit of time getting to know another horse. I plan to keep riding him on and off as Laredo's shoulder continues to heal.

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