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Baby Horse Diaries - Dont Hurt Me No More
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   19th Oct 2019   •   273 views   •   0 comments
Sunny Fall

Baby Don’t Hurt Me, Don’t Hurt Me, No More...

Since I have had my Baby Horses, Sunny and De Niro, I have had one fall off each, which is really not bad going through all the toddler tantrums! Honestly, I was feeling quite proud of myself. Until today.

Today, everything changed.

My first fall from Niro was a typical combination of Baby Horse confusion and rider error. It was his first cross country open day, and I presented to a ditch that he didn’t quite understand, then proceeded to look down while approaching it. Naturally, Niro scooted sideways, and I went exactly where I was looking. Down. We got it right after that, and it has been smooth sailing ever since – not that that’s very surprising, given that Niro is my perfect little prodigy.

Sunny, on the other hand, has had a rocky start to her career as you well know if you’ve been following this series. My first fall off her was prior to her ulcer treatment, when she was a spooky and unpredictable wreck. We were having a dressage lesson, and then a horse left its paddock about 50m away and Sunny decided that it was time to turn the dressage lesson into a flying lesson so she could follow her “best friend” who she had met maybe once in her life. Thankfully, that was the only time she got the better of me, even in her monster stage. Now that she is happy and comfortable, she is a far more sensible and well-rounded horse. She is, however, still a baby, and babies will always be babies, no matter how sensible they seem. That brings us to today.

This week has brought a very exciting new experience into Sunny’s life: gridwork. Previously, too many jumps in a straight line were impossible with baby Sunny wobbling around, but now she has a more solid schooling foundation, she can hold some kind of line, and she’s actually pretty keen on jumping one jump after another, after another, after another. The problem is, she has not quite figured out where the grids end yet. You’d think that the final jump would be a cue to stop jumping, but Sunny has decided that she prefers to carry on, only in a more ‘freestyle’ type of jumping method with the back arched and the head somewhere between the knees. Hence, our grids follow a pattern of: jump, jump, jump, jump, pronk, pronk, pronk. Then I usually get her head up and ask for a halt or a canter circle to make her act like a normal horse again.

Because of the pronking, it’s pretty important when jumping anything, especially grids (especially on Sunny), to be sitting very much BACK! I’m usually pretty good about this, but I do have a habit of sometimes anticipating and jumping ahead, especially when Sunny is ‘bounding’ towards her jumps, as she does when she’s having a good time. And that was exactly what happened today. Approaching probably our most complicated grid to date, I tried to set myself up in good balance and let Sunny figure it out, and to everyone’s surprise, she did a great job. Honestly, it went much better than expected. So when I approached it again the other way, this time jumping towards builders working on the edge of the arena, I wasn’t expecting too much to go wrong. And not much did. Except that my seat over the final jump was not defensive enough, and the ‘pronk, pronk, pronk’ pattern was immensely emphasized by the presence of the workers. Ultimately, the new pattern became ‘pronk, pronk, twist, flop’ – leaving me lying on my back, and Sunny galloping off bucking and farting with her tail in the air.

Sunny Fall

Sunny Fall

Sunny Fall

Sunny Fall

Sunny Fall

So we had our second fall, but this time it was not really because of a naughty horse, just a baby being a baby, and it probably could have been avoided if I’d jumped more defensively, and sat back to get her head up in time. It was actually a pretty useful reminder to work on my ‘sit back’ when doing grids with the babies, so I thanked Sunny for the free lesson, and hopped back on to work on the ‘sit back’ skill that she had helpfully informed me I was lacking. The pronking had scooted my saddle forward a little, so I repositioned it before remounting.

Then we approached the grid again. Like before, it actually went surprisingly well. She was confident, straight, balanced and scopey. Then we landed, and rewarding herself for a job well done, she commenced the usual ‘pronk, pronk, pronk’. This time, of course I was as ready for the pronking as any rider can ever be, and when we landed, you better believe that I sat so far back I might as well have been skiing. And I did ski; on my bum, with my saddle, all the way up her neck, which she politely lowered and twisted to the side to deposit me softly in the sand, where she obviously figured I belonged at this point given my obvious incompetence.

Sunny Fall

Sunny Fall

Sunny Fall

That’s right, kids. No matter how motivated you are to fix your mistakes and put in a good performance after a fall, you still have to remember to tighten your girth. It doesn’t matter how far back you sit or how soon you manage to stop if your saddle is going to keep going, and no matter how big your horse’s ears are, you definitely should not rely on them to keep your saddle on her back. So that was fall number 3 off young Sunny, the second in as many minutes, and I am not altogether proud to say that today brought some much-needed lessons for me as a rider. I have always said that baby horses make the best teachers – and the most humbling ones.

Am I grateful for the lessons? Sure. Would I recommend this learning experience to my friends? Hmmm... Nah. 2/10. Unnecessarily painful. Better steer clear and just pay for actual riding lessons.

And remember kids, check yourself (and your girth) before you wreck yourself.

Love,
Sunny
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