I don't have anything to say about my horses because I've been a lazy, negligent owner and haven't done anything worth talking about in... um... a while.
So, five questions stolen from I Trot On
1. Who has had the biggest impact on your riding and why?
Ummmm... This is really hard to answer. I can't give one answer. There are three.
First is my Old Man. He did dressage for years back in his early teens, so he got pretty well trained. The BO at his barn rode him and took lots of lessons with Walter Zettl (if you're not familiar with Walter, he's amaaaaaazing... he works with the Pepperonis, but don't count that against him). So he knows his stuff. Then the BO got a young horse and Striker turned into a lesson horse. He'd been a lesson horse for a few years at least when I started riding him, so he wasn't really tuned up.... which was fine, because I was still learning my diagonals. But as I progressed, he was with me almost every step of the way (except learning to canter and my first few jumping lessons, because he's absolutely 100% NOT safe or suitable for those things). One dressage instructor I rode with described him as "tolerant, but not generous", which is perfect. He put up with all my fumbling and ineptitude cheerfully, but he didn't give me anything until I asked for it correctly. He has the training and ability for stuff, which meant I just needed to learn how to ask for it (and then ask for it enough that he got into shape). There are so many things I learned on him. I would be a much worse rider than I am if it weren't for him. (And let's face it, the idea of me being even worse than I actually am is pretty horrifying!)
Second is The Mare. She is totally unlike Striker and way too much like me. She's pretty much me in horse form. She's the kind of horse that I would say I could not and should not ride because we're just too much alike. But I had to make it work, because if I didn't ride her, someone else would, and that someone else's way of riding her consisted of see-sawing on her face, whipping her to get her off leg, and then ripping on her face to make her slow down... they ended up whipping her so hard that the crop broke, left welts on her, and made her rear. So in order to keep her away from that, I had to ride her. She taught me how important it is ride each horse as an individual. You can get away with riding lots of horses the same, but when you're on a hot hot hot chestnut Thoroughbred mare, you need to ride the way SHE needs to be ridden. Quiet, asking rather than demanding (but still setting boundaries), and taking things slow.
Third is Jeffrey Lord. I've ridden with him 5 times, the last 3 being on River. It never fails--I'll be riding and having trouble with something, then I'll remember "oh yeah, Jeff said to do this", and as soon as I do it it's 100% better. I absolutely love him.
2. What is the one piece of riding equipment you can’t live without?
My saddle. I loooooove my saddle. It's a Collegiate Diploma close contact. It's so comfy for me, it has wool panels and an adjustable gullet for the horse, and I feel so secure in it. I've had it since fall of 2007. IMO the newer ones don't have quite as nice of leather, so if you're in the market for one, I'd look for an older used one. If I had the money, I'd buy a second one to have as a spare in case anything ever happens to mine. It cost around $1,000, so it's a mid-range saddle, but even if I was rich, I wouldn't get a different saddle. I'd probably pay saddle fitter to come adjust the flocking for a custom fit to my horse, but that's it.
3. If you could change one thing about the sport, what would it be?
The way people mistreat and abuse horses in the name of winning. People should be in horses because they love the animals. If the desire to win and make money leads people to be cruel to their horses, they need to get a new sport.
4. If horses could talk, what would yours say about you?
Striker: "Yeah yeah, love you too, now hold still so I can scratch my head on your back. Hey, where's my Twinkie? Yeah, you're the bestest human ever, love you too, whatever... Are you SURE you don't have any more treats?"
The Mare: "I want my food and my boyfriend."
River: "I like it when you scratch my face and cuddle with me and it's kinda fun when we go for a ride, but I wish you didn't make me do so much. And why aren't I allowed to rear when people lead me??"
5. How do you prepare mentally for a big class?
First off, for me ANY class is a big class. Going to a show is a big deal. My mental preparation usually involves me wondering what the heck I was thinking to sign up for this, wondering if I'm going to throw up, praying I don't fall off, praying that my horse is at least sort of well behaved, wishing I could just go home and never go to another show again, and hoping I don't pass out while I'm in the ring.
And then when I'm done, I think how fun it was and I can't wait for the next time!