On Hat-Vest-Boots-And We Ride!

Having cleaned mountains of tack all morning, it was time to go for it. No reason to put it off any longer. I found my hat and vest, wrestled for about fifteen minutes with the zippers on my chaps, and headed out of the house, saddle on hip, bridle over shoulder, the same old walk I’d learned as a ten-year-old with visions of the Black Stallion dancing in my head. The gray pony I’d learned to ride on bore significantly less resemblance to the Black than the lovely bay awaiting me in the paddock.

For one thing, Silver had a head like a cinder block.

Final Call has that “wedge-shaped head” that Walt was always raving about whenever he described the Black (along with that statement that always confused me, even as a little kid, “big, nearly sixteen hands.” That was big? Come on Alec, grow a spine. Sixteen hands is nuthin’.) A wedge-shaped head, at my best guess, means a head that’s really freaking huge across the poll, and really tiny and delicate across the nasal bone. Thereby making rational bridle fit impossible.

Hunched back and open fingers. . . yes that's how I ride. It works for me.

Having noticed that his halter had to be buckled on the first or second hole, versus the last hole on my broodmares, and since they’re all the same brand of halter, I had assumed that he had a monster head and had put a bridle together accordingly. Please note that this is after spending about two hours and a half bottle of Murphy’s Oil Soap scrubbing a Rubbermaid tote full of pieces of tack. Say what you will about everything being made in China, we have certainly been provided with infinite possibilities for storing horse supplies.

He’s a bit of a lover of a horse, the sort that make performing “Join-Up” fairly challenging. Are you coming to see me because you are joining up with me, or because you love me and want to kiss me, whether I chase you or not? There is a difference, you know. Either way, he stuck out his tongue willingly enough after five or six minutes of round pen work, and when he started following me around like a lovesick puppy, I gave in and tacked him up.

I am a scary scary racehorse!!

This is when I, the Noseband Nazi, who rails against Eclipse Award trainers because they can’t just put the noseband where it belongs found that Final Call’s noseband was entirely too big and would require substantial re-fitting. This was frustrating because A) this had been Amarillo’s noseband and he was a 15.3 hh OTTB with a normal sized head and B) because I was photographing this for the blog and didn’t want anyone to see me riding without a perfect noseband fit. But I wasn’t schlepping back to the barn at this late hour, either, so we went with it. And you’re welcome. And don’t laugh at my noseband.

Final Call went into his seventeen-hand incarnation when I tried to mount, which made things extra thrilling. But to ride? Please, he’s a doll. When the other shoe drops, I shall be dumped hard. Because clearly no OTTB is this quiet and easy. He is surely lulling me into a false sense of security. Okay, he throws his head around. Okay, he has no balance. Okay, he really doesn’t know how to walk, just halt and trot. But that’s all really easy stuff. Remember my prereqs for joining Professor Natalie’s class? No flip no buck no bolt no head-throwing-back … I meant it. The rest is cake. We can do this.

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8 Comments

Filed under Final Call, Training Diary, Training Theory

8 responses to “On Hat-Vest-Boots-And We Ride!

  1. Ya know, that IS funny. I kinda thought his halter was a little loose through the noseband. As in, delicate narrowing of the skull to the pointy nose. The Dancer had that, didn’t he?
    teacup muzzle, for his head?
    Ya look pretty safe to me:)
    Love his expression. Hey, what the hell? You want to what? Okay, um, lets see…
    sigh…

    nice noseband.
    snerkle.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Yes – teacup muzzle is precisely the expression for Dancers. Observe: Ontherightwicket. Her little nose is teeny-tiny pony-sized. As is her lurvely darter’s. His head is a little broader through the poll and jowl than normal, which makes his horse-sized halter tight in places and saggy in others. . . like my jeans. . .

  2. I’m not even sure I know what a noseband is? Just kidding. Sort of.

    I tacked English reins on a Western bridle, and swap between an English saddle someone said was a jumping saddle (maybe), and a beat up Abetta ‘cuz it fits Bar the best of all our Western saddles.

    I say if you get on and stay on, who cares?

    Scary racehorse indeed.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Indeed that’s the focus of my next post. . .

      I don’t think they show in the pic but I’m using racing reins as well. I love racing reins and if I can get away with them in a dressage test, I will. If people can put rubies on their browbands I ought to be able to use thick reins.

      I would love a Western saddle, I’ve never had one. I keep hoping someone will walk up to me at the feed store and say, Congratulations, here is an old beat-up Western saddle for you! But it hasn’t happened yet.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Oooh Jessica, maybe you are super-Pony-Club proper and say “Cavesson.” LOL 🙂 That’s what I meant. Cavesson.

  3. Barb Fulbright

    What a good boy!!

  4. He is sounding all too familiar to my big guy! A lover who wants nothing more than to just be with you and hilarious to be around.

    Then I got far too comfortable with his quiet willingness under saddle (less than five months off the track). My inattentiveness combined with high wind and crashing BANG! of a poorly secured metal gate left me sitting in the dirt after my guy took off as if out of the starting gate.

    Certainly gave me all kinds of new respect for jockeys! What amazingly explosive power!

    Fortunately for me, he’s a lover and wandered back up as if to ask what the heck I was doing on the ground…

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Hahaha yes, but jockeys are ready for it! That’s such an awful feeling, sitting in the gate, waiting to open. . . well, it was for me, anyway, because I hate roller coasters.

      Yeah this one is a total lover – gives you the horrified look when you start to work him in the round pen. “But you love me! You’re chasing me! WHY???

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