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.
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.
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.