Well, sooner or later every rider buys a ‘cheap’ piece of real estate and we’re no exception. We were in a jumping lesson on Saturday (only yesterday, seems more like a week, but we’ve got our nose back to the wordsmithing grindstone and time takes its own line…) and Lord Peter was acting spooky – noticeably so, compared to his relatively calm demeanor for the past three months, truth to tell. Later we realized that the last time he was on this sort of sensory alert (stallion on the lookout for danger to his herd) was last summer when… oops, getting our tongue over the bit in terms of this anecdote.
Peter might belong in the “Minimal” category, according to Bryan, because he’s smart-lazy, but he’s a powerful quad. No doubt about it. Check out this photo, taken when he was three and the big horse flies attacked his sweet hide. Note the steep ascent on that slope at Ridgetop Connemaras, Marynell and Walter Eyles’s farm on picturesque Middlebrook, midway between Staunton and the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington.
We love this photo – it’s the quintessential image of pony power, which we have been working on the flat to harness so that it’s available whenever we want and/or need it. Anyhow, getting back to the point of this post, we got to The Fine Equine Saturday morning in time to join a jumping lesson and we warmed up while Bryan and Brandy dealt with vet Todd Burdick coming out to do a pre-purchase on one of their horses. Anyhow, Peter was a bit spooky about the bushes and undergrowth outside the ring fence, but we just did flat work until Bryan came back.
About 25 minutes into the lesson, yours truly needed to hit the homeopathic tincture for wheezing. We moved to the rail, trying to catch our breath and calm down (shortness of breath triggers anxiety, which aggravates the situation) and let the remedy get to work when Peter did his rocket launch impersonation and propped what felt like a 180, blasting out of walk into mach 2. We were asleep at the wheel, so to speak, paying no attention whatsoever to pony boy, whose powerful change of direction propelled us out of the saddle.
Now, in retrospect, we wish we had called Jake Carle and begged him to come over and play with our number-one camera and sports telephoto, but noooo, we refrained, not wanting to be pushy. Would have loved motor-driven 9 frames per second series of pictures capturing our extreme effort to cling like rain-forest tree frog to equine moving at rapid rate of knots in opposite direction to the rider’s trajectory. It would have been a hilarious set of images for this post. Words fail to recreate. Actually, video would have been even better, because we recall bellowing, ‘stop, you little s#@t, stop’ until we finally couldn’t cling a moment longer and dropped to the ground.
Mind you, we still had the reins and we held on, but now Peter was backing away, dragging this familiar but noisy thing when all of a sudden sanity returned and he halted. We scrambled to our feet, thinking – hmmm, wheeze or no wheeze, we gotta pay attention when we’re in the saddle…
Bryan, poker-faced for sure, came over to ask us if we were all right, but we heard later that he told the other rider and his wife Brandy that that was one interesting emergency dismount. Yep, we agree wholeheartedly. It was also total pilot error.
We finished up the lesson and, although tired, conducted ourselves well over the liverpool, which turned out to be our final fence. Peter’s a joy to jump – if we’re doing our job, that is.
Then we started thinking about the circumstances and the last time that pony acted mindless about anything coming out of the bushes or undergrowth was last summer. He had spent the summer at a friend’s place in Middleburg. Sometime in July or August, two bears came through. They were sighted by various motorists as they traveled eastward through farms and along Rt 50. Peter was ‘loaded for bear’ for days afterwards. So, it was probably wild life of some kind. Not deer – he’s so accustomed to deer that when BZ went racing after some white tails in his pasture, he couldn’t be bothered to pick up his head as they all dashed by him. Something else.
Just counted up the days he’s been ridden in 2011 – 38, most of them since May 20th. Peter’s doing really well, all things considered. Our goal is consistent work. This means making Peter the priority first thing in the morning and getting to the barn before it gets hot and buggy.
Such an easy call: even when that pony’s bad, he’s great. He just needs his rider to step up to the plate and keep him moving forward, literally and figuratively.Bryan’s going to see to that – we have our ‘marching orders,’ so to speak.
It’s all about CEqE – Continuing Equestrian Education – and the pressure isn’t even on Peter – it’s on us, because the partnership is horse and rider. Remember that next time you want to blame your horse or pony for something that was probably triggered by pilot error and/or failure to handle that flying machine properly.
Sorry, Peter, we’ll do better – that’s a promise!