Last night I rode Chocolate, a compact stocky mare who had an attitude. Per Vicky Hearn, author of Adam’s Task, Calling Animals by Name, since mares are whole animals unlike geldings, which have been castrated, they live more fully and react with more personality. Don’t get me wrong, geldings have personality and high spirits, but mares are different. They can be persnickety. Anyway, I greeted her and she nipped at me. Pretty much set the tenor of the meeting.

She had a few other habits that were good for me to deal with — a tendency to balk was one. The instructor had me “unlock” by turning her head, breaking her hold on the bit, and moving her on. She also got a little high-spirited in the ring and there were a few times when the instructor had me walk because she sensed that Chocolate was about to do a little crow-hopping. If that were the case, I would have been on the ground in no time.

But oh, that mare had the smoothest trot ever. That’s a horse’s roughest gait, and she was amazing. Her trot was so smooth that I could sit to it without bouncing at all. It felt like I knew what I was doing. The instructor – Sarah — was impressed. Chocolate is a little out of shape since she is used mostly in the little kids’ classes. This was the first time she had been worked in a while, and Sarah said she looked really good.

We walked and trotted only, partly because like Chocolate I’m also out of shape, and partly because we were sharing the ring with a jumping class, and Sarah was dubious about Chocolate’s composure at the canter with all the activity going on. That was fine. I am all about getting the basics back, and we did a lot of two-point at the walk and trot.

This was a good lesson. I really felt like I was getting it all back. But just to keep me humble, when I drove away after rinsing Chocolate off and turning her out, my leg shook so much that sitting at a traffic light I couldn’t keep my foot on the brake. I had to put the car in park and use the handbrake until the light changed.

It was only for a few minutes and then my muscles settled down, but man. Crazy.


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