I was running slightly late to the riding lesson at Coker Farm. I had an one hour lesson voucher through Shady Lane Farm this time. As it was later explained to me by my instructor, Marguarite, Shady Lane currently leases horses from Coker. I hurried into a big red building and saw a pretty, smaller horse all prepped and ready to go. She was to be my school horse for the lesson. Her name was Jewel (a 16 year-old mare, almost full, if not full quarter horse) and she was a jewel of a horse with a gentle temperament and an equally lovely trot. She was also the perfect size for little me and her trot wasn’t nearly as bouncy as other horses, making the ride much more pleasant. A gentler trot also means an easier time for me to learn posting. Jewel has been at Coker Farm for approximately five years and for that time has almost always worked as a school horse. Marguarite mentioned that a little girl does regularly train on Jewel.
I initially worked on basic steering/control and on improving my riding form with Marguarite for a half hour before she put Jewel and me on a lunge line. The rest of the time was dedicated to posting and trotting. I experienced a new challenge this day. I had to share the indoor paddock with two other riders; I was scared to bump into them and their horses. I was also slightly distracted. The other riders though were much more knowledgeable in riding than me so when I was finished with my lesson, I was able to stay for a few minutes and watch them ride around the paddock. Unfortunately, I had missed the cantering.
Marguarite recounted a funny little story regarding Jewel. Apparently, during warmer months, the barn doors are kept open to let in fresh air. Jewel has been known to all-of-a-sudden become unresponsive to her rider’s commands and on her own volition, briskly walk out the door (rider still in tow) to graze on the grass. Not exactly a vice, but definitely an oddity. No one has ever gotten injured from this but I’m not sure how a newbie like me would react to this behavior? Well actually, Jewel did do something unexpected during my lesson… As Marguarite returned with the lunge line, Jewel walked away as if to say, “oh no, please not today!” It took me a few tugs on the reigns to get Jewel to stop walking away. It did make me a little nervous though but everything was fine afterwards and she accepted the lunge line without difficulty.
Barn Story… When Jewel and her friends sensed apples and carrots nearby, I had their undivided attention. They must have heard the crinkling of my plastic bag; perhaps a recognizable signal of impending treats? There was not a horse in that born who didn’t stick his or her head out their stall to get a better look. Like many other domesticated pets, they will definitely let you know that they are interested in receiving a snack. They can also become a bit temperamental when they must wait their turn. Jewel seemed grateful as she accepted her apple and carrots, but definitely not demanding. I would love to work with her and Marguarite again. I never take a nice day for granted.
We met a super friendly farm dog on the way to our car. He was tall and lean and loved to jump. I’m not sure of the breed? He even wanted to hop into the car with us. Sweet pup. Then, as quickly as he had appeared before us, he disappeared into the thickets or behind the little red house as we drove away. Maybe I’ll see him again soon?