AKA: stories from the past.
I have been around horse people most of my life, with thanks to my mother. She realized very quickly that her daughter was a horse crazy child, and tried her best to support that craziness. She bought my first pony- who was everything a horsey kid did NOT need- and supplied me with feed/ hay for said pony. My dad constructed a one car sized "barn" for my eventual horse and was there for our very first ride together. Nothing went wrong as my mom had said it would, and I was so proud of my "training"!
That TB gelding was from some of the top fox hunting lineage in Chester County ( Pennsylvania) and wasn't nearly as highly trained as I thought. There were a few training holes, thanks to a kid with no mentors. After all, we met when I was 13 and hardly wet behind the ears so far as horse knowledge went. We made it thru our life together without doing a lot of damage to each other and life was good.
I remember teaching him to jump. After all, he was bred for hunting- so why couldn't he jump over things? My friend, Dennis, and I would set up "jumps" from saplings across the logging trails in the woods, then give jumping over them a try. My horse could jump- and he could jump High! ( it wasn't long before I learned about properly constructed jumps) At any rate- in my neighbors' field, he saw no reason to jump over something. Why not just go around it? Easier that way. I thought and thought and came up with giving him a small piece of carrot after each time he jumped over the "jump" in that field. We worked it out this way: I would do my circle and aim his face at the jump. Yay!! Over we'd go. I would then stop him and give him a piece of carrot as a reward. We were doing really well at this jumping stuff in a few weeks.
Finally, I figured we were good enough to try our hand at shows... The guy who was hauling us arrived early that morning, and my horse decided there was no way he was going into something he could look over.Took me 2 hours to get that big horse into that small quarter horse sized trailer, and off we went. We arrived at the horse show- me in my "elephant ear" jodhpurs, boots shined so they looked plastic, tack sparkly clean and a big gawky looking 4 yr old red horse. He was so clean his coat just glistened. After getting our show number,I realized it was soon 'show time' ! We entered the ring, checking out the 8 jumps positioned along the ring's railing. Simple- jump over those jumps and we'd be done.
We entered the show ring, did our canter circle and I aimed him towards the first jump. Wooooeeeeee- we cleared it! But then my horse screeched to a stop, and turned his face around, looking at me. "Oh nooooooooooooooo- we have to keep going!" Over the next jump, a screech to a halt and that look and it happened with every jump. Oh lordy- he was expecting his carrot reward. Needless to say, the whole class went that way and I was quite simply mortified. We didn't even get a ribbon that day but wow, did I learn a lot.
I wanted the earth to open up and let me hide... but I had a horse to care for, even if I wasn't real happy with him.
On the drive home, some serious pondering was going on in my head. That was when I began learning about horses in a different manner. They wanted to please, and did what they'd been taught... that meant the person doing the teaching really had to do it correctly. At 15, I'd begun learning to hear what the horses in my life were telling me.
That horse eventually went on to another owner that was so excited to own a horse like mine. He knew the bloodlines and did teach "my" horse how to become a fox hunting horse- a Very good one. Last time I heard anything about those two, "my" horse had been retired and was then helping the mans' grand daughters to ride- and yes, jump.
Somewhere I have some photos of me n' my first real horse- I suppose I should find them one day.
God bless the horses who helped me learn.