Monday, March 15, 2010

Magnanimous Maggie

Saturday, March 13, 2010

After last weekend's shenanigans, , I admit, I had some doubts about Maggie, but this big black mare is definitely growing on me. I've been riding her everyday. Everyday I teach her something new, and always, she remembers it the next time I ride.

On Thursday, Maggie is so good that I venture down the road with her to cool out. It's our first experience outside of the confines (and relative safety) of a ring. Dave is off at work, so if something goes wrong, I'm on my own. But as it turns out, there's no need to worry.

As we leave the driveway, Murray, with his high-pitched whinny, calls to her from the pasture. She hesitates, but with a nudge from my leg, and a reassuring pat on the neck, she's on her way again. She plods along as leisurely as ever, looking curiously from side-to-side (probably in search of something edible in the ditch). When we turn to come home, her pace stays exactly the same. Unlike Murray, there's no anxious rush to get back. I start to wonder how she'll ever keep up with Murray on a trail ride. Oh well, better too slow than too fast right now.

On Friday, I ride Maggie again, and decide it's time to try a canter. She's unsure as to what I'm asking from her, but eventually she figures it out, and her short legs propel her into the three-beated gate. We do one long-side of the ring in each direction. She's on the wrong lead both times, but there's plenty of time to work on technique later.

After the burst of energy required for the canter, Maggie is huffing and puffing, and sweating. Once again I take her down the road to cool down. This time we meet a car. Maggie watches with interest as it moves toward her, bumping over pot-holes on its way. I wonder how she'll react when it passes by us, but I don't get the chance to find out. It turns into our neighbour's driveway. Maggie (who still hasn't taken her eyes off this burgundy coloured beast) tries to turn in the driveway to follow it. I see the driver lifting groceries from the backseat, and wonder if it's actually the food Maggie's after. The rest of the ride down the road is much the same, plodding and uneventful.

Saturday comes and Dave is asking to ride "his horse" for the first time. I'm hesitant. Despite her progress, Maggie's still very green. I've only been on her back eight or nine times, and Dave is a beginner rider, with only a few more rides under his belt than Maggie. But, I decide we can give it a try.

I ride her first, and this time, when I ask her to canter, she knows exactly what I mean. We canter the whole way around in each direction-- still on the wrong lead, but we'll fix that later. She also goes on the bit at the walk, and somewhat at the trot. I'm impressed, and I let her know it with continuous pats on the neck and cries of "good girl".

When I finish, I reluctantly hand her over to Dave. She's doing to so well, I realize I almost don't want to share her. Nevertheless, we bought her for Dave, so I might as well give them the chance to get used to each other. Dave rides around at the walk until he gets a feel for her steering and brakes, then he tries a little trot. He does a good job, but it's clear by the worried look on Maggie's face that she's a bit unnerved by his lack of balance and skill. She doesn't bolt off or buck, or do anything bad though. Her only bad habit is that she keeps trying to turn into the middle toward me.

All in all it's a very good day. We reward Maggie by releasing her back into the sunny pasture with Murray. We reward ourselves by sipping a bottle of wine underneath the arbour overlooking the ring.

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