Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Riding a Reiner!

The weather was relatively nice this past weekend, allowing me to have good rides on Buckshot. On Saturday, Buckshot was a little low energy, but when we got up to the reining arena, he was eager and cantered with gusto. I stopped us from continuing on more because his chest was warm with sweat, and with his winter coat still on somewhat, I let him rest. After our ride, I sponged him with cool water everywhere he was sweaty.

On Sunday, four of us headed over to the reining trainer’s farm with four horses. It was a lovely day, and as Buckshot and I warmed up, a number of other horses and riders arrived and came into the arena. We worked on some reining exercises and Buckshot was enjoying himself, cantering wonderfully when I asked. Halfway through, the trainer allowed me to switch off and ride a real reining horse. So I took Buckshot to a round pen that was adjacent to the big arena, removed his bridle and saddle and took it outside the round pen. Buckshot immediately walked away from me and explored the pen. Next to the round pen was a hot walker and the horse I was to ride was tied to it. I carried my saddle and pad over to him, a small mottled dun horse standing calmly.

I greeted him with my hand, said hello to him (his name is Bandit) and rubbed his neck, telling him I’d be riding him for a few minutes and thanking him for his upcoming work. I swung the saddle onto his back and fixed the cinch. Buckshot was watching me and occasionally whinnied. I turned to him and reassured him that I’d be back for him. Poor thing, he was just confused about why he was in a round pen, and untacked, without treats, and why his person was over there?? I watched him carefully, to see if he was really bothered by this situation, or if he would be okay. But he did some whinnying, some watching of the arena horses, some walking around, one roll, and watched me, but overall seemed okay. Not pleased with the situation, but okay with it.

The reining trainer got a bridle for Bandit and put it on him. Then I took him to the mounting block and mounted, and started riding him around the perimeter of the arena. The other riders were doing various exercises with the trainer. After a bit, I squeezed Bandit’s sides and he jogged. Well, that felt different, such a low slow jog- a trot that I can actually sit!! That was nice. After walking and jogging more, I decided to try a canter. I lifted the inside rein, tapped my outside leg and kissed. He didn’t canter, but he did do a tiny bit more of a jog. It felt sort of weird, like “what was that?” Not a canter. So I tried again and did the aids. Again, under me was a rolling, weird feeling kind of movement, like a trot gone sappy. Well! I finally realized, that IS his canter!! We continued on, with my head saying, this little movement, barely above a trot, is his canter, but it feels like one tenth of the canter that Buckshot has. This isn’t a real canter, I thought. Wow. How different. So in my mind, it was, well, not very impressive, but I didn’t want to say that. By comparison, Buckshot’s canter is, well, a real canter, a challenging canter, a canter with enormous power in it, and this felt like a watered down canter. I like Buckshot’s better. Several people yelled that I looked good on Bandit, and I smiled and thanked them.

Then I rode him over to the trainer and asked if I could spin Bandit. So the trainer walked me through the steps to get him to spin to the left. I held onto the horn with a death grip with one hand, and used my other hand to direct the reins. And wow! Did we ever spin!! After three or four or five spins, I yelled whoa! And stuck my legs out front and he stopped on a dime. I laughed and laughed, amazed at the action, and also wanting my head to stop spinning. The trainer laughed also. Then he said, let’s go the other direction. So I held onto the horn with a death grip, and used the reins to spin to the right. Well, double wow! That horse was twice as fast and I felt like I was going to shoot up right out of the saddle, it was so incredibly powerful, I knew I couldn’t hold on, so I stopped him after about two spins. Oh, my, that was way, way too fast for me!! The trainer smiled also, and said, yes, that is his fast direction. After my braincells slowed down, I walked Bandit around some more, and then took him to the side, dismounted and put him up, thanking the trainer for the opportunity to ride him. It was quite interesting, but I have come to love Buckshot’s style and it would take a while to get used to the way reiners are.

Later, the BO told me I looked very good on Bandit, and looked very, very smooth riding him. I told her that he felt so different from Buckshot and less powerful. She explained why that is. Reiners are often bred to be smaller horses (much smaller than Buckshot) and have small, smooth canters and trots, so that they are easy to ride and so that riders look smooth on them. So they are like that way on purpose. Buckshot has longer legs than a reiner and so his action is more pronounced than a reiner. That helped me to understand why the horses feel so different. Then she went on to add more. In dressage, horses are often much larger than Buckshot, and they are in an arena smaller than the reining arena. They are asked to canter slowly, in a smaller space. They have to be fantastic athletes to be able to do it. I agree that is really impressive. Interesting about the different horses and disciplines.

I was proud of myself for riding a different horse, and for feeling comfortable on a strange horse in a relatively few minutes. That means my riding is improved, and that I can develop confidence on a strange horse fairly quickly for me. I feel very good about that. I also feel a bit guilty that I wasn’t incredibly impressed by the reining horse. He just felt so different from Buckshot an d the other school horses I have ridden (mostly Arabs , Quarter Horses, and Appaloosas), and because I am familiar with them, I like the way they ride. But it was a very interesting experience.

I went to get Buckshot from his round pen and he seemed glad to get back to his regular routine- eating grass, and getting treats, and having me pet and praise him. And my heart belongs to him, that’s for sure. He is the best horse in the world for me!

With the warm weather and fly season approaching, I have decided to try a new fly spray for Buckshot, so I bought a couple of bottles of Endure fly spray. I also bought several packages of Equispot, which I use on him once a week. Driving home with the Endure, I had to laugh, because how will I know it works better? Buckshot can’t tell me!! LOL! It’s like wrinkle cream - my theory is that a manufacturer of wrinkle cream can claim anything they want about their product, because no one is going to use it on just one side of their face to see how well it works!! LOL! But I can ask you guys- have you used Endure fly spray? Did you or your horses like the results?

Hope you had a great weekend as well!!


Story said...

I'm always so nervous getting on strange horses, no matter how well trained they are!

I think the first time I tried spinning on a well trained reining horse went a lot like the way you described too lol. I thought I was going to get flung off!

It's funny, I totally appreciate every horse for who they are, and other horses may be better at stuff than my horse, but like you, I know the one I have is the one for me.

Unfortunately I haven't tried Endure before. Been really curious about the effectiveness of Equi-Spot, though. Something that can be used weekly sure sounds appealing.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like a fun weekend. I'll basically ride any horse but I like the feeling of knowing my own horses movements and feel more comfortable with them. I think that Buckshot's paces are normal for horses and the way they were meant to go. None of my business but my opinion of some of the western gaits I've seen look really unnatural and must be uncomfortable for the horse. I've seen some go so slow they almost look lame.

The spinning must have been something to experience. When I first got Dusty at five yrs. old she was a green horse with some western training and used to spin on me all the time without being asked. Try that sometime in and English hunter saddle. I used to get dizzy after a while until I could get her to stop!

Haven't tried that fly spray, let us know how it works.

nadalia smith said...

Sounds adventure in holidays with horse riding.

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Carol said...

What a great weekend you had. It must have been fun to ride the reiner and do spins! Also, good for you for riding a strange horse and being comnfortable / doing well. I'm like you in the gaits I like - I prefer more power and bigger gaits. I guess Buckshot doesn't need to worry :)