Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Two School Masters

For my first horsey post for the year, I wanted to review my recent transition of changing horses and what my thoughts have been. I have returned to ride Ariel a couple lessons ago after riding Bons for several weeks. I honestly didn't think that there would be such a difference or adjustment mentally but I was surprised. I started jumping on Bons and doing a few very short (like 3 jumps) courses because I was still nervous. He's the complete opposite of Ariel in the way he rides where there is a lot more horse in front, underneath and even behind--it's like driving a bus. I did mentally graduate from needing to wear my riding vest but I still struggle with several other things.

Upon returning to ride Ariel, I immediately felt the difference: Ariel felt like a pony beneath me. Her neck is short and she's shorter in general. It suddenly felt odd and strange but I didn't take long to get back into the swing of things: they felt comfortable and practiced.
  • Ariel will take that little X like it's a big X even at the trot. Bons will scoff at it and trot over like it was a trot pole.
  • Ariel is excited to see me and comes to the paddock gate. Bons will take one look and walk to the far side of the paddock.
  • Ariel is social and enjoys the company of humans. Bons could care less and would likely rather be doing his own thing.
  • Ariel changes gait on a dime. Bons takes half the arena long side to transition down.
  • Ariel is an 'uphill' horse and doesn't drag me down and forward. Bons is a 'heavy on the forehand' horse and will drag me forward without me even noticing.
  • Ariel has the attitude of a typical female. Bons is a compliant gelding.
  • Ariel hates face contact and prefers a rider to use their seat/leg. Bons likes seat/leg but doesn't get all worked up with facial man-handling by yours truly.
  • Ariel is trained well but Bons is trained impeccably from birth.
I consider both to be fantastic school masters and I am learning differently from each of them. I have had a lot of time with Ariel and I look forward to continue riding her but I also recognize that Bons will push my learning and get past some of the other subjects like rein contact and the floaty warm-blood gaits. So, as this year starts up, I will be moving forward with a mixture of the old and new.

A photo posted by Deborah (@my_examined_life) on


  1. The horse I rode this past Sunday, Joy, does not like contact on her mouth but is practically psychic with where you want her to go anyways. I struggle to understand, though, how much contact to maintain? Because my trainer will have me keep a pretty loose rein on her, but I know that in shows they like to see some contact. Wondering what your experience has been? Happy New Year!

    1. joy is probably very much like ariel where she is sensitive to your seat/body changes and so that's why it seems like she's reading your mind. it's really neat but then you have to have control over your body... heh...

      in terms of contact, depends on the horse and what you're doing. when you get in a lesson, test different amounts of contact with the horse. see what they respond best to. they'll tell you what they prefer or need...

  2. happy new year! both Bons and Ariel sounds like such very different rides! there's a lot of value in switching it up to develop different skills etc... but then again building that one special partnership is also pretty cool too :)

    1. absolutely! i think for me, i haven't ridden enough to just stick with one horse because i want to be more versatile and that takes practice!