To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Out of left field

When last I posted here, I was quietly contemplating acquiring a weanling Morgan filly, and had talked to my friend about starting her Percheron mare. Rick was dragging his feet about Door #2 (he doesn't even know about Door #1; no point in poking the dragon when I have my own reservations) when he came home Friday and told me he may have found a horse for me to ride. What???

He had gone out to a former client's place on an emergency. After taking care of the patient, Rick got to chatting with the owner, the widower of Rick's former client. Her favorite horse has been mostly idle for the last three years, and the husband really wanted to see him used by someone. Rick suggested me. Neither one of us knew exactly what the husband had in mind, but figured it was worth checking out.

We set a date, and today I drove over to meet Bentley, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding. It felt like a cross between a blind date and stepping out on my (mustang) man. Poor Lance really wants to DO something, but right now he's still lame and on stall rest – and my riding muscles are idle. When you get sidelined at my age (closer to 60 than 50), it's much harder to get back in the game and there's a greater risk of injury, so staying in the saddle is essential to being able to stay in the saddle. Anyway....

Our introduction took awhile. When the owner went to catch Bentley, he said he'd rather stay out in the rain, thankyouverymuch. Bringing in his two retired companions and bribing with grain didn't work. The owner had told Rick that Bentley prefers women, so armed with a pocketful of treats, experience, and the combined wisdom of Anna Blake and Terry Golson, I headed out into the rain – away from Bentley. I smoothed the gravel with my toe; I talked to him. Pretty soon he came over to check me out and eat some cookies.

When I showed him the halter, he said "No, thanks," and walked away. I got more treats and meandered around the pasture until he came up to me again. When I moved away, he followed me, and eventually said he was okay with being haltered and led inside.

I wasn't sure we'd align our spines today, but after grooming him thoroughly and checking out the fit of his two saddles, I decided to tack him up, take him into the indoor arena, and see what happened. By that point the owner had had to leave, so it was just me (with a helmet and iPhone) and Bentley with the rain drumming on the arena roof; I didn't want to be foolish. After leading him around awhile I decided to ask him how he felt about me on the mounting block; there was some reticence but we worked through that and were able to continue our walk with me astride.

When I led him back to his stall, he nickered quietly both times I came out the tack room after putting stuff away, so I think I made a decent first impression. ;-)

Right now Bentley's owner is just looking for someone to come over and ride on a regular basis. Since Bentley was his late wife's favorite horse, I don't know that the man is wanting to part with him. I told him I could try for three days a week, and he seemed happy with that. After three years off, Bentley is fat, out of condition and out of practice as a dancing partner; it will take months to turn that around. I could ride him more often if he were here since I wouldn't have an hour+ round trip; maybe moving him here will be an option in the future. All I know for now is that I will be more stepping out on more dates.


Alanna M. said...

Fun! He's a handsome boy.

farmlady said...

He's a handsome guy. Have fun with him.

Mary Anne Komar said...

He is beautiful, so nice of you to step in!xx

Theresa said...

Well, well, what a nice looking partner. I am sure you left a very good impression.

Terry said...

Thank you for mentioning me in your blog. Well done, Grasshopper :) He looks kind. He looks like he needs you. And of course, I love the markings.

Michelle said...

Alanna, I hope we'll both have fun; time will tell.

He IS a looker, farmlady!

Hopefully it is mutually beneficial, Mary Ann.

Theresa, I kept calling him Nick!

Yes, I thought of your boy, too, Terry. :-)

The Dancing Donkey said...

I hope you two have lots of fun together!

Julie Zickefoose said...

Beautiful writing. Very instructive, too. I like Bentley. He seems like a smart guy, not easily led. And with good taste in friends. :)

C-ingspots said...

Very cool. I remember how much Janet loved him. You know, she'd been taking lessons with Bill ever since she got him. I think he helped her pick him out when she was searching for her new partner. You might give Bill a call and pick his brain. Have fun!