Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Friend Oliver

If I look like I belong on Oliver, it's probably because I do. I know all of his quirks... and all of his gifts... in much the same way I know my longtime friends.
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I made a promise to my husband, Ron, that I wouldn't jump any horses after my riding accident. But ya' know, when it comes to riding and horses there are just some promises you simply cannot keep, not even to your husband. (Single horsewomen, take note of this fact). One of the very few horses I still jump is Oliver. Ron has finally accepted that he cannot keep me off the big bay gelding. But I think he's finally okay with that. You see, Oliver is not a green or unpredictable horse. He's an older teenager, and he's been in training at Sue's barn for nearly 10 years. Over the years I've often been the one to school Oliver. Many times I've climbed aboard him at shows and tuned him up for one of his young owners before they took him into a medal class. Want to know something even more special? Oliver was the last horse I rode right before I hopped on Barbie for the fateful course where I was injured. And Oliver was the first horse I rode when I finally got back in an English saddle a year later. So you can understand why I feel safe on Oliver. He's like an old friend.
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Lately I've had more opportunities to ride Oliver because his current owner, Kiersti, is off to school and simply doesn't have time for him. She'd love to lease him to a deserving competitor, but in the meantime I get to ride him. Lucky me! Because he has so much schooling, I get to polish my skills at the counter canter, execute flying lead changes down the center line of the arena, and practice shoulders-in and leg yields. I can almost imagine that I'm back in the show ring, or at the very least, preparing for a competition. And while I'm limited to how high I can jump-- and so is Oliver, due to his age-- that doesn't mean that I can't relive a few medal class rounds by occasionally zipping around a rollback turn to a small oxer or cantering through a bending line.
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Like many warmbloods, Oliver is a slow burner: he isn't apt to dash off toward a jump. But he can be a little faint-hearted at times, because his brain is about a half-step behind his body. Fortunately, I'm aware of this, so I synchronize my mind to coordinate with his. I prepare to ask for a canter before I actually press my leg into his side to get the actual transition. I think he appreciates that. I certainly appreciate having Oliver in my life.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cindy-
I'm glad you still get to jump him somethimes.He's just so CUTE!!!!!Is he a Dutch Warmblood?I was wounderinf if theres a website to the barn where you teach?If yes could post it?

Anonymous said...

How awesome! I miss my steady old boy Shadow. There's nothing like riding a nice, good, safe horse. He looks like a sweetie!
Jamie

Ann said...

aww... you and oliver look great togethor! hes such a pretty boy! and he takes good care of you it seems ;) glad you get to ride him still along with your beloved wally... its nice to have a horse to take you through so much. for me i'd say a little arab pony took me through alot and helped me get over my fears and showed me how much fun trails can be!

Anonymous said...

You and Oliver look so good together. And I, too, am glad you still get to jump on a horse and pop over jumps once in a while. I broke my arm and dislocated my elbow while jumping. It severaly hurt my confidence as well. But what hurt more than the extreme physical pain (I never knew a bruise could turn so many amazing colors) was that I couldn't so much as walk a bomb proof school horse for several months. But soon, I was back on those horses (only bombproof ones at first.) And I did jump again, my trainer slowly helping me regain my old confidence and skill. I know jumping has risks, and I am an innately nervous person, not exactly the ideal kind for equestrian sports. But I love to ride more than anything. There is nothing like the feeling of flying over a jump, that moment weightlessness and freedom. And I will always be thankful for the steady, sweet horses who let me trust them enough to ride, and finally jump again. :D

Cindy Hale said...

Thanks for your comments! So true, that there's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you're jumping. Well, at least when you're jumping correctly: hitting the perfect take-off spot, sticking with your horse and landing safely! Riding to a sucky take-off spot, dropping a rail and landing in a heap-- or falling off-- not so much fun!

Yes, Oliver is a Dutch warmblood. Or at least he's half Dutch. His dam was actually an APHA mare, though Oliver didn't get any coloring. Not even so much as a belly spot!

Anonymous said...

Cindy-
is there a webite to Sues barn?If yes can you post it?

Cindy Hale said...

There is a website for Sue's place (where I teach lessons), but it's not quite finished. And I feel uncomfortable sharing it with a direct link here. After all, the intent of my blog is not to provide free advertising. But it's nice of you to ask! When the whole website is up and running I'll let you know and you can do a Google search and discover it on your own. :)