Our barn is full of OTTBs, Quarter Horses, Quarter Horse crosses, more Thoroughbreds, and an Oldenburg. But there’s one horse that’s not quite like the other ones. Sure she’s a mutt, being 1/2 Holsteiner 3/8 Connemara and 1/8 TB but really, she’s the fanciest horse we’ve got among us. (Plus, she’s 3/8 Irish, so I naturally love her.) Sarah’s mare, Rapid, is turning 6 this June, and she is Sarah’s first departure from Thoroughbreds in quite some time.
It was a rocky start. Sarah wasn’t sure she liked her, despite having been obsessed with her since the day she was born at a friend’s farm. Having recently been told her 2* mare would no longer compete at the upper levels, Sarah had a tough time reconciling the idea that she might have to bring another horse up the levels. Top that with the fact that this horse was a behind the leg warmblood mutt and Sarah wasn’t exactly gung ho to get her going.
It was about a year ago that Sarah put Rapid into consistent training and they kinda haven’t looked back since. Sarah found the joy (and pain) in bringing along a youngster and it was amazing to see the bond they formed. It was great seeing Sarah happy on the back of one of her horses again. Rapid hasn’t been an angel, but she’s coming along nicely and it’s pretty evident when she moves that she got some of her daddy Riverman’s talent. Mare can JUMP. And is so naturally balanced and uphill. Rapid naturally has a canter that it has taken me YEARS to get with Georgie. And Georgie isn’t ever going to move like Rapid. But that’s ok. Still love my mare.
ANYWAY, Sarah just got back from an event in California where she and Rapid came in 3rd in BN and they’ve been trucking along, hoping to go Novice in the near future. Never in a million years did I think I would hear the words “Do you want to ride Rapid in a lesson?” But that’s exactly what she asked me last week.
I obviously said yes. And then texted to say I was prepared for Sarah to scream at me that I was riding her horse wrong. But Sarah promised she wouldn’t scream and that the great thing about having an Irish (or partially Irish) horse, is that they’re forgiving and easygoing. Keep in mind, no one has ridden this horse other than Sarah. She is used to being ridden the same way, every day.
The lesson didn’t start out great. As I took Georgie back out to her paddock I saw Rapid, who was tied up, throw a mini hissy fit. Then, when I got on her, the only other horse in the arena left. And Rapid threw a rearing, balking fit. All I could think was, “can’t mess up an Irish horse, huh?” I figured lesson was over.
Sarah had me get her moving and then allowed me to hop off- so that we could run mare around the arena. Wanna be brat? Well you can do it at a gallop. I got some great photos of this, but they’ll be revealed in Equestrian Bingo…
After about 10 minutes of galloping around, I got back on the mare and she was a perfect angel. Greenies. They’re fun.
Rapid is a really fun horse to ride. But maybe I forgot to mention that she is only 15hh? Despite parents that were at 16hh or more, she got dwarfed. Is that a word? So, I spent a few minutes just finding my balance on her for transitions etc. When you’re on her she doesn’t feel small. Her canter, when I put her together, which took little effort, is LOVELY. I can now understand why people buy fancy movers. Having a horse be naturally uphill and carry itself is a lovely thing.
We did some warm up and then got to jumping. Rapid is FUN to jump. If I worked a little bit through the corners, it paid off. She had a rhythmical, balanced canter to the jump and it was awesome to ride.
At one point I said to Sarah that I thought that having a forgiving horse was one of the most important traits in a horse. If I screwed up my distance once, Rapid didn’t hold it against me. She went like I rode her. Ride her well, she goes well. Ride her poorly, she doesn’t go as well, but is still going to make the effort to get over the jump. It’s a lovely trait.
I coud gush about Rapid a lot more, but I think you all get the point. I was so honored to ride her, and get to see just why Sarah is so smitten with her. While of course I want my mare to be sound, riding all these different horses has been so amazing for me. I’ve learned so much from each and every one, and it has definitely been a silver lining to a less than ideal situation.