Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Aunt" Cindy Rides Topper

After I finished giving my Saturday morning lessons at Sue's place (my former coach's facility) I had time to climb aboard Topper, my sister's Thoroughbred, and give him a little school over the jumps. I truly do enjoy riding Topper. Despite his occasional bouts of goofiness, he's quite the good boy. I've ridden him off and on since Jill got him through a Thoroughbred "rescue" organization, and I even showed him a few times before I got hurt. So when my mom and Jill arrived with Topper in tow, I pulled on my half-chaps, strapped on my helmet, and hopped on. Here's how it went:

First of all I must provide a close-up of Jill's knees as she balances herself on her walker. This is why SHE is not currently riding Topper: she just had her second knee replacement surgery. Notice the matching scars on her legs. If she were a horse at an auction, you would not want to bid on her.

Here I am aboard Topper. I'm patting him because in his mind he's thinking, "Uh-oh. All signs point to 'Bad'." He can already tell it's his Aunt Cindy on board, the lady who first introduced him to jumping, flying lead changes and the fact that hunter courses usually require at least 8 jumping efforts before a horse can pause for a treat.

Topper is a 2'6" horse, meaning he isn't really athletic enough to cruise around bigger, stouter courses of jumps. That's primarily due to the after effects of too much racing. But he's safe and reliable over the lower stuff like this, which is fine with me since my husband would throw a hissy fit if he knew I was jumping even this high. Since my accident I promised him I really wouldn't jump horses anymore. <*cough*>. And yes, I realize I'm jumping a little off-center here, but that's because Jill was dead ahead, taking the photo, and she was teetering on her walker. As I was cantering to the jump I had this horrible vision of Topper landing, galloping up to his Mom in hopes of getting a peppermint and ending up entangled in her walker. I didn't think Jill's orthopedic surgeon would appreciate that.

The schooling session is over and Topper is back in the cross-ties, awaiting his bath. But first he must consume at least a half dozen peppermint candies, payback for packing me around the jumps and putting up with my constant requests to keep galloping. Honestly, who on earth thought this animal had any talent or motivation to be a race horse? Topper says, "Eh, being a race horse required far too much effort. Plus I had to get up really early in the morning, and that just didn't fit with my social plans."


As always, I love to read your thoughts and your own past experiences. Just click on "comments" below or you can email me directly at:


Anonymous said...

Haha - Topper is REALLY cute! I love his face in the picture where he's being patted and in the other one where he's being fed treats.

There is a young Paint mare that I ride perhaps two or three times a week. Her name's Serene, and before I started riding her she was pretty destructive and would even injure herself to get the rider off her back. She scared everyone at the barn, and when someone asked if I wanted to ride her, I, not realizing what I was getting myself into, agreed. I had no idea of her previous history and just hopped on with spurs and a dressage whip. Every time she bulged out to run into the fence and scrape me off, I smacked her shoulder with my whip. I introduced her to circles, keeping her shoulders parallel with her hips, and her head and neck in a good curve with the bend.

Now, every single time she sees me, she balks and runs away because she doesn't want to work. LOL

Anonymous said...

AWW TOPPERS TOO CUTE! The pony i used to lease is very barn sour, and he would see me and be happy thinking i had tereats butonce i put the saddle on, he would try to scare everyone hwo rode him by attemping to do mini rears. but it nevr quite works bec. everyone knows hes not gonna do anyhting, he has Never bucked wiht anyone on him in his life! Ouch looks like your sisters knee would really hurt!

Anonymous said...

You are a brave woman!! My **ahem** non-horsey husband and I hauled my paint mare (the one I had my riding accident on) and my oh-so-lazy gelding to a local arena today and we just rode around. There was another couple there on their gaited horses, (Oh how I envied them!!) And I almost fainted when Chris said "Hey -those are gaited horses-arent they?" WOOHOOO!!! He NOTICED!! That may not sound like much, but believe me... it is major! It means that during one of those conversations where I was explaining the differences between a gaited horse, and our "jackhammers" I mean quarter horses.... he actually Listened!! We are looking for a bombproof gaited horse right now. Keep your fingers crossed!!
And Topper is TOO CUTE! He looked a little bit UH-OH in the first picture. You shoulda seen the look when I put our horses in the wash rack to bathe them. Skipper got that worried OH NO.... ITS A SHOW look. He is so funny! He side swiped my mare and pushed her off the wash rack! I really enjoyed riding with my husband.. and maybe, just maybe, when we find another really broke horse, he will want to "ride along" more often!
Take Care

Anonymous said...

Topper is TOO cute! Your sister's knee just looks so painful! I know when I had my back surgery this past winter it was very hard trying to take care of my horse without my dr. finding out how much I was doing. Luckily no effects and my mare and I went riding for about an hour yesterday, trotting and cantering off and on.

Cindy Hale said...

Yes, Topper is cute. And yes, my sister's knees look... well, not so cute. But as long as she can get back to riding soon, that's what matters!

That's interesting, Jamie, that you mentioned gaited horses. There are several very nice, lovely Tennessee Walkers in town. Whenever I see them on the trails I think, "Hmmm... Even though Wally is very comfortable, that looks REALLY comfortable." I think if I could wave that magic wand we all hear about, I'd add a Tennessee Walker to the pen next to Wally. But of course, I have yet to find that magic wand. Someone else must be borrowing it.