I realized last night that I let an important date pass unrecognized-June 16th. Random date much? Yes. No. That marked the first year of having Paige. I go back and forth on what I should’ve done last year. Common sense dictates that you sell your problem horse (looking at you Copper…) before you buy the replacement horse. Obviously I didn’t get rid of Copper since he decided to right his wrongs and be a functioning member of society, so now I have two riding horses (and Robin).
There were times that I considered selling Paige once I brought Copper home. How many horses does one girl need anyway? Apparently I need three. Last year was all about Copper. I bought Paige, but I put Copper in training and realized the stunning magnificence that is Copper in training. I rode Paige a handful of times at the farm; it was relaxing and good for my confidence to ride something out and about in the field. I was still afraid of cantering, and she wasn’t about to go into a quicker gait on her own, so we just walked and jogged around the field, and only when L came over to ride with me.
You see, at that point I was still afraid of Paige. I know, now that seems beyond ridiculous. Paige is the most harmless creature I’ve owned since Logan. There was a switch that flipped in me this spring that told me I’d never get to ride if I waited on people to ride with me, which is true. I love L to death, but her horses are on the other side of town and she goes out there to ride them often, plus she lives in a neighboring town, so timing can be complicated. When L rode Paige the summer/fall I got her, she observed that Paige was lazy about transitioning into the canter. By this spring I had enough trust in Paige that I was asking her to canter when I was riding on the farm alone despite knowing that she didn’t want to canter.
I know this seems like a super trivial thing. People make horses do things that they don’t want to do all the time. That’s part of horse training. I’ve never claimed to be a horse trainer, which in this area, coming from the lesson barn I did, is an uncommon statement. So many of the students that left that barn truly think they are horse trainers. Kudos to you guys…but that isn’t me. I’m not shy about the fact that I still need lessons, and as soon as I can afford it, someone is going back into training.
I went down a rabbit hole there, but the point is that I was happy that I pushed myself to push Paige to do something she didn’t want to do. L even commented when she came over this summer that she could tell that I’d been working with Paige on her canter. Paige is now much more willing to pick up the canter, and I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I’m riding more confidently. Have I pushed Copper to canter out in the field? Nope, not yet. I think I’m ready, but that is something that a) I wanted to have a helmet for and b) someone should be on the farm with me, just in case. He bucked a little with A when she cantered him outside earlier this summer, but it wasn’t bad, and I have doubts about whether or not he would still buck once he is carrying more weight (me+my western saddle as opposed to a much smaller A and her dressage saddle).
Anyway, I’ve made some progress this year. I have no satin to show for it, but I’m okay with that. The fact that I rode Copper out in my field without a breakdown and without anyone riding him down for me prior is an accomplishment. The fact that I feel comfortable enough with my riding and Paige to have silly match races in the field is an accomplishment.
With that being said, Paige and I (and Copper and I) still have things to work on. I’ve compartmentalized the two horses. Copper and I work on him in the barn on training things. We do leg yielding, bending, circles, and we have a focus on his headset and how he rates his speed and carries himself. Meanwhile, Paige and I goof around in the field. We canter circles around Robin when told to and herd donkeys for fun. We don’t collect and Paige frequently is trotting around happily with her nose stuck out. My trainer, G, will probably not be amused by this once Paige is back in training, but focusing on breathing when cantering out in the field and just enjoying my horse has been the best thing for my confidence this year. Do I anticipate resistance when I ask her to go in frame more consistently? Yes, but now I feel like I have the tools to be ready for the likely small amount of resistance that she may present.
In short, I’m so happy that Paige came into my life. She’s the type of horse that anyone can ride and get along with. She is my go to trail riding partner and has helped my confidence exponentially over the past year. I can’t think of a single thing she’s spooked at in the last year and I’ve put her in some comical situations with riding down the hill away from her friends randomly and hauling her out to a local show within a week of bringing her home. She stood like a saint for the vet for two rounds of AI and what seems like a million ultrasounds. Paige never wavered during two days of trail riding on the New River Trail despite crossing some bridges that made me nervous and having gaited horses spook into the side of her. She did try to dunk me in the river. I guess I can forgive her one moment of weakness in a year of good behavior. Maybe she just really likes swimming? Me too, Paige, me too.
Thanks Paigey! You’re the best!