Confessions of a Timid Rider

When Good Horses Become Turds

Confession: Not everyone is perfect, even my pony. 

It’s hard to admit. But sadly, Ferrous is not perfect. I know, it was shocking to me as well. Alas, it is true. Generally, my pony is an easygoing and forgiving companion. Full of personality and generally a confidence builder for me, he tells me what he is feeling and thinking. More, he knows the difference between interactions with me and with my young daughters. Sometimes he may make a mistake as he did recently breaking into a canter with my Zoe but often he proves himself quite a unicorn.


Everyone is entitled to a little leniency. We can’t be good all the time. That would be exhausting!


My boarding barn has seasonal schooling shows for the students and boarders to practice their skills with an official judge, competing at home against friends. This is a wonderful way to build confidence and also learn the basics of showing. I may have participated in one or two but more likely I would groom the horses or, now, watch from the sidelines as my daughters ride in the lead line class.


The twins are at the same level and take turns competing on Ferrous. When we bought him he was a hunter champion. He had never been a children’s lead line pony and had to learn that an adult walking next to him was not to be chased or chewed on in the play. He learned quickly and has been quite steady for the girls.


Still, spring fever hits us all. Ashlyn was excited to ride him after having a really successful lesson. When I approached the mounting block, she was already there but Ferrous was feeling antsy and needed to move. I waited until the last minute to get her mounted and let her trainer Robin take point. He was practically vibrating with nervous energy, which made me nervous for her. More, he is still shedding and his face was itchy with puffs of hair rubbing off of him.


With Robin leading Ashlyn on Ferrous and barn owner Jody leading Zoe on Jewell, the girls were ready to compete! They did a great job and honestly, Ferrous was being a turd. He kept tossing his head, walking into his leader and marching close to the other horses. Ashlyn was calm but getting frustrated of course.


Example of a perfect lead line pony, if perhaps a bit slow.


My naughty pony alternately going too fast or pinning his ears and backing off.


In the end, the twins all did well, and Ashlyn better than expected on a slightly naughty horse. He had ants in his pants. We proudly took photos and the class was over before we knew it!


Zoes mount Jewell was a perfect angel and they won second, third, and fourth!
Ashlyn and Ferrous won two thirds and a fourth place! Look at his turd ears though…)

Then the real fun began. Since Ferrous was done I put on his halter and lead him out to take him back to the other side of the property and to his stall. I guess all the show nerves had to go somewhere. Bless him he held everything in while his little girl was mounted. He waited for me. Walking him back up the hill, I had to pass children and ask them to move aside because he was “a little frisky”. They laughed and didn’t listen as I passed with a pony who thought he was a racehorse about to walk into the start gate.


I was patient but grateful I didn’t have a helmet because he would not have been fun to ride back on my child’s saddle. And there was absolutely no way I was riding him without a helmet. By the time I reached the top barn, I was sweating from circling him and keeping him at my shoulder rather than bouncing forward.


I’ve never seen him this amped! I’m not sure if it was the spring grass, the cool day, or just a general need to gallop that he had to contain but my goodness he was a complete turd. He spoils me with his usual good manners that I honestly was surprised.


I guess even unicorn horses are capable of acting like a complete turd some days. He wasn’t bad, in fact, he knew the difference between my daughter and me and behaved when it mattered. So I’m actually impressed with how self-contained he was. But he was in a mood. Aren’t we all entitled sometimes?  I’ll definitely be riding him before his next lesson with my daughter just to make sure it isn’t something lasting.

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