Ahh, the mantras of our childhood. I can safely say that I was "glowing" all over the place yesterday, as I tried to persuade my mount, Kassian, to move freely forward.
Kass is a handsome Lipizzaner/Thoroughbred cross, home bred by an owner who is a busy professional and soon-to-be divorced mother. She is looking to share exercise and some expenses of her horse. I was suggested to her by her trainer and went to try out our compatibility.
It's immediately obvious that Kass is a spoiled mama's boy. You can see from his posture and facial expression that he just expects to be served and he's not often disappointed.
At 14:2 hh, (58" or 1m47 at the top of his shoulder/withers) he's not a big horse, but he's well proportioned and has the presence of a much bigger animal. He oozes self-confidence and is the bossy, lead horse in the hierarchy of the paddock he shares; snaking his long, powerful neck and frowning at the others to keep them in their place.
I was told in advance that he's a "Brat" and to expect a buck or two if he didn't like what I was asking of him. With all the build-up, I was expecting to have an exciting ride.
Kass turned out to be really hard work. His walk, which is long, vigorous and ground-covering out on the trail, shortened and slowed the minute we entered the arena. His trot was "do I have to?" and his mind was on the view of the surrounding hills and any comings and goings of horses, cars or people. He wasn't spooking, just more interested in anything that wasn't work.
It turns out that Kassian's owner carries a long dressage whip and wears spurs for arena work. I traded my short crop for the proffered whip from her, but declined the spurs. I prefer to at least try to suffice with my leg power "au naturel" but the result was my being in a bigger sweat than the horse.
I need to ride Kass a few more times to see how we progress together. I was working on getting his attention on me and I did a lot of changes of pace and direction. Halt to trot & walk to trot, a few strides and then starting over. Working on quick (quicker) responses to leg aids and building some curiosity and enthusiasm for what might come next. We ended up with some reasonable canter figure-eights, down to a trot stride and change direction back into canter.
Kass has natural balance and good confirmation. His brain is under-engaged and he's used to taking the lazy way out. He is known to put a new rider to the test.
If he were for sale, I would not be interested in buying him, based on this one trial. I'm keeping an open mind about signing up to share/lease him. One ride does not a decision make. There may be a capitulation on his part, next time he sees me coming, or I may be the one to cry "Uncle". I'll let you know.