I’ve recently had a few hands-on lessons in the old adage: Tell a gelding, but ask a mare. My mare, Dorrie, because of past physical problems, has been a study in patience and correctness. What do I mean by this? She is physically unable to go forward without being straight, and needs a lot of help from the rider to find this straightness and maintain it. Here comes the patience part. It has been so hard for me to understand that I was a large part of her problem–why she would curl in a ball, flatten ears and not go forward…Why she would bow out in the opposite direction of our turn…Why she would drag and break to walk. Why was this happening? I’m not THAT bad a rider, am I? After all, my other horse goes along just fine. Learning the hard way, (my personal specialty) I discovered that I was in fact shoving at her with my seat and nagging with my legs to go. Doesn’t work. I would creep forward, pinching with my thighs instead of sitting back with legs open. Makes her slow or stop. And I was not centered, dominating one side, that caused her to shift her weight and bow out. That being said and acknowledging my riding faults, she is NOT a horse to meet you half way, or at all. You have to ask and you have to do it right. She’s like a giant, red “correctness” meter that clearly tells you
when you haven’t got it right. But that’s the beauty of her: when you’re right, she’s there with you trying very hard, so you get instant and positive feedback on your corrections. So why doesn’t my other horse mind? As my trainer pointed out, most horses have difficulty going straight (correctly), but they’re much more able to compensate. She also mentioned once that she believes you meet the horse you need to teach you something at specific times during your riding life. So, if that’s true, Miss Dorrie has appeared just in time to teach me a lot!
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