I had a really great and very busy weekend this week. I went to Northern VA for my college roomie’s bridal shower and wookie party (wine tasting/cookie decorating=wookie party, it was fun!). It was nice to see her and her parents and to meet most of the other bridesmaids and the groom’s family members! As much fun as all of this was, I know most of the people who read my blog are here for the horsey stuff, and of course, I managed to squeeze some horsey activities in on this trip!
When I originally planned this trip up, Tanner’s owners were going to be showing him at the horse center at the Mid Atlantic Reining Classic, and I was going to swing by there and say hello on my way up to the parties in Northern VA. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, they ended up not going to the show, so I casually invited myself to stay with them so I could meet Joey’s sire and spend some time with them. They’d invited me over on other occasions, so this wasn’t really as far out in left field as it sounds when I write it out. ha.
When I first got to their place, S showed me my room so I could put my stuff away and we settled in the living room to chat and try to get the horse show to live stream on their tv so we could watch the big futurity class. A lot of big name reining trainers had hauled in for the show and they had some friends riding as well, so we were interested to watch the rides. After getting the show up on the tv we relaxed and talked while we watched, then had a wonderful seafood pasta dinner with champagne before wandering down to the barn to feed Joey’s aunt, grandmother and an unrelated yearling filly that is going to join their show string before becoming a broodmare to cross with Joey’s sire. After those horsey introductions, we went back up the hill to the house to watch the rest of the futurity and finish off the champagne before bed.
The next morning our game plan was to ultrasound Tanner’s full sister, Hollywood for her 30 day check. L, S’s mother, used to be an ultrasound tech and has adapted her skills and knowledge so that she can perform ultrasounds on their broodmares herself. Hollywood was ai’d and confirmed in foal to Mega Watt Shine and when L ultrasounded her again Saturday morning, we got to see the embryo and heartbeat to confirm that all was progressing nicely with the new baby to come. S is already starting to whisper buckskin tobiano to Hollywood like I whispered color options to Paige back when she was in foal. Hopefully she’ll get what she wants just like I did.
After that we we on to visit Tanner! He is stabled with their trainer about forty minutes from their house so we began the trek over after grabbing breakfast and caffeine at McDonald’s.
When we got there I immediately got to meet the man himself and gave him some cookies. You never really know what to expect when meeting someone else’s horses for the first time because you don’t really know what expectations they make their horses live up to as far as manners go, but Tanner was SO POLITE and was very gentle when I offered him cookies. I was pretty smitten and speechless from the get go and his owner was like “what do you think?” I didn’t really have words except for “I want to kidnap him.” He has the cutest little tiny ears that are surrounded by SO much mane and forelock and his mane is streaked with palomino colored hair that gives his otherwise white mane some golden undertones. I’d never noticed this in pictures and was definitely starstruck by his looks.
After scratching him for a few minutes I was introduced to Joey’s two year old half siblings that are already going nicely under saddle. I didn’t take any pictures of them but they were both very friendly and even more attractive than they look in pictures. Despite not being a huge fan of bays, Joey’s half brother, Elliott even appealed to me! At two years old hee’s much taller than Tanner already, so I’m holding out hope that Joey will get more size to him.
Reiners are often smaller horses, so I wasn’t surprised that Tanner is on the short side, though he doesn’t look very short when someone is on him, which is nice. He also doesn’t feel short (to me at least) when you’re on him. That’s right you guys! I got to ride Tanner!
I forgot my helmet in the trunk of the car back at their house, but I wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity. Before mounting up I watched S put him through his paces. She demonstrated big fast circles, small, slow lope circles, roll backs, sliding stops, flying changes and turns/spins in both directions before dismounting and helping me adjust my stirrups and having me mount up.
As you all know, I’m a pretty nervous type rider, especially so in situations like this where people who haven’t seen me ride before are watching me. And you may have been reading here long enough to remember that I’ve previously been not so hot at riding reining horses. So, you know, no pressure. At least I had faith that Tanner is a good boy and wouldn’t flip me into the dirt or anything.
I rode him walk, jog and lope in a circle and things went well after the first lope circle where I rode like I generally tend to and stopped steering. Unlike Paige, who just breaks to a trot (really at any opportunity), Tanner just stopped at the wall like, “left or right, lady, you have to pick.” After that I remembered to steer and kept him on a circle better. He’s nice in that his lope is self propelled (unlike Paige…) and I don’t have to keep pushing him into the lope to keep him from breaking into the trot. Though no one told me that (lol), so I’m driving him with my seat more than necessary in the video S took of me riding him, but oh well.
After that, S encouraged me to try to spin him, to which I laughed and warned S and L that I’m really bad at it and have only managed to do it once in a lesson before. S was encouraging and gave me Tanner’s cues (which are the same as I’ve previously been told): inside leg wide open, rein on outside of neck and outside leg lightly on and cluck to him to get him to go faster. And what do you know, it worked! The first way he spun super fast and I struggled to get him to stop spinning because my butt had come up out of the saddle somewhat, so I pushed the heel of my hand into the horn and my butt back into the saddle and he stopped. I giggled nervously and scratched his neck before asking for the other direction. He didn’t spin nearly as quickly the opposite direction thankfully. At this point I’m sure he was well aware of my skills and/or lack thereof and realized he didn’t need to work nearly so hard to show me a good time.
I didn’t attempt lead changes or run downs/sliding. It’s always good to know your limits, though I can imagine that I would get much more brave if given the opportunity to ride him on a regular basis as it was obvious that he’s very honest and takes care of his people. He definitely has more whoa than go, which is my preferred style of horse.
When I was finishing up the assistant trainer brought Joey’s 2 year old half sister in and we got to watch her put the filly through her paces, which was fun to watch. The filly only has about 60 days of riding, but she’s going around walk/jog/lope pretty quietly and seems to be enjoying learning about her job. During all of this I was talking to S and L and loving on my favorite stallion.
Overall I was very impressed with Tanner and I hope Joey grows up to be like him. I think it’s also safe to say that I’m 100% happy with my plan to breed Paige back to Tanner in the future after meeting him. His personality is above and beyond most horses, let alone stallions and he’s got the good looks to go with it.
After riding Tanner, I’ve been bitten by the reining bug again. When asked previously what I want Joey to do “when he grows up” I’ve answered ranch riding type stuff and western dressage before reining because a) I’m not sure I have the skills for reining and b) I worry that lazy baby Joey won’t have the gas pedal to be a reiner, but the brakes are just as important, and he certainly has those. 😉 So, time will tell, but I’m open to the possibilities and can’t wait to see how my baby horse matures and to see how much he resembles his father going forward.