As mentioned a few posts ago, I finally got to ride a warmblood for the first time. Riding instructor A invited me over to her place to give him a try. The lesson went well, as in I didn't come off of him. That was a legit worry because when she first told me about him last year one of the first things she mentioned was a "wicked spook".
I haven't been riding any horse other than Razz for years now. Before Razz I owned the most athletic little arab known to mankind, and talk about a wicked spook. He could move so fast you almost wondered if he simply teleported twenty feet sideways. His spooks benefitted my riding exponentially, and I got to experience the warmblood spooks a couple times during my lesson. Let's just say those were nothing compared to the arab, but more about that in a moment...
I arrived at A's farm at 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon. She and fiance just moved in to their spread, literally. They have acres of fenced paddocks, a tack room and a camper. They had been doing land prep all day and A had gone to return the heavy equipment they'd rented, so her fiance gave me the quick tour of their place. They own the coolest pig ever. Her name is Layla and she has the temperment of a dog. I scratched her all over, and when I stopped and took a few steps away she followed and leaned into my leg begging for more. So I scratched her some more and this time she rolled over for belly rubs.
Love that pig!!
But it was time to meet my equine partner for the evening. My guy was in a paddock toward the edge of their property along with two cob sized paints. Warmblood was standing at the gate waiting. He thought it was feed time. I walked in and let him sniff my hand before giving him a couple scritches on his noggin. Then I scratched the crest of his neck and withers and had a small chat with him. I think A's fiance was expecting me to just walk in and grab him but I don't roll like that with a new-to-me horse. I like for horses I handle to feel comfortable with me from the beginning and I always go for the withers and extended silly conversation first. I could tell he was a chill guy, and after a couple minutes I was ready to halter him & he willingly dropped his head right in.
I started grooming and it wasn't much longer before A showed up. We talked about his history in depth. She'd told me a bit about him before. Warmblood is 11 years old and came from Connecticut. He was living in Raleigh with his owner when he developed an issue in one of his eyes. I believe the eye thing was a bit more than his owner wanted to deal with, however she didn't want to sell him. So A agreed to take him on a free lease and keep him in work. The eye issue has been watched by a vet for a while now. It's basically a tiny grey scar on an otherwise healthy eye. He can see around it but yes, it does block some of his vision. The condition doesn't cause the horse any discomfort. Instructor A has had him for over a year, but since she doesn't own him and I don't know his owner, he will remain as "the Warmblood" on my blog.
While grooming him I couldn't help but notice how flat his back was. It was a beautiful thing. My pony has ZERO top line and a looong spine that's no where near as nice as Warmblood's. I got tacked up and we began our lesson. Instructor A has no arena yet so we rode in the small grass field next to the tack room. This damn field was honestly a pain in the ass. Rain soaked the entire east of NC the weekend prior and even though there wasn't any standing water, everywhere we stepped we were basically digging holes. You could hear the grass roots ripping under the pressure of his steps. The footing affected the entire lesson. I don't really feel as if I learned anything on this ride, but I did get to know WB so that is a win, right?
We walked around for less than five minutes before A told me to pick up the trot. I was riding apprehensively, being on a new pony and the thought of a wicked spook never far from my mind. He has a wonderful trot. I had to remind myself to breathe to stay loose. This is probably one my biggest struggles in riding. Bracing for any fucked up footing didn't help either. We picked up canter not long after that. Eventually WB started testing my geometry, deciding he wasn't in the mood to bend, and instead of nice 20 meter circles he was just gonna go large. As I became more comfortable on the new guy I began to ride him more aggressively. Which is what I should have been doing from the very start.
The lesson lasted an hour and the sun was well below the horizon when we finished. Like i mentioned earlier, I did get two spooks. But they weren't wicked, not like hot arab wicked. I sat them quite well, and honestly he gives a split second's notice that it's coming. I popped him over some tiny verticals toward the end. His jump is complete opposite of Razz. Warmblood was just as cuddly after the lesson as he was before, so I was happy that he didn't hold a grudge against any horrible eq I might have offered up. I plan on riding him more in the future, but he will be coming to my farm until instructor A finishes her ring.
Above are a couple shots taken one right after the other. This was during our first trot lap so please try not to cringe at my position. It was so nice to feel such a floaty trot underneath me. I will learn how to ride this trot well!! Stay tuned for more Warmblood adventures in the future :)