Sometimes We Need Schoolies

As you know, my poor pony, Stella, is suffering from gastric ulcers, so she’s been off for a little bit while she recovers. My coach, Wylie, is helping me slowly but surely bring her back into work, but I hadn’t actually sat on a horse in about two weeks (TWO WEEKS!!!). So, during a discussion about the fact that I really need to get on a horse, Wylie looked at me and said those three magic words I’d been waiting to hear: “What about Tigger?”

Tigger is one of AEC‘s most beloved school horses. He’s a super little morgan, originally trained as a western horse, who came to AEC through a stroke of luck and began a new career in the dressage world. His roster of riders runs the gamut from little tiny beginners to very accomplished dressage students, and I have always wanted to ride him.

So, I had my weekly lesson on Tigger the next Friday. And the Friday after that… and the Friday after that. I just can’t get enough of this little horse. He’s not fancy. He’s a little girthy and likes to make horrible faces while you’re tacking up. He’s crooked to the left. He’s crooked to the right. Trying to sit square while he canters is akin to what I imagine herding cats would be like. And I am absolutely smitten.

I’m smitten because Tigger is “one of those horses”. He knows, instinctively, what each rider who climbs onto his back needs. If you’re a teensy little beginner, he knows he needs to go  v-e-r-y   s-l-o-w-l-y  so you can learn how to keep your balance on a moving horse. If you’re a strong intermediate rider, he knows he needs to listen carefully to your aids, because you might not be meaning exactly what you’re saying, but he’ll figure it out and give you what you’re trying to ask for anyway. If you’re more advanced, he’ll throw a little more at you, making you ride so correctly that you get off feeling like a better rider.

And if you’re me… if you’ve been stressed to the absolute max, if you’ve spent your drives home from the barn in tears because your beautiful pony is standing miserably in her stall fighting horrible pain that she can’t understand, if your last ride ended with a pony standing on her hind legs and dragging you around the arena, if you have no idea what’s going to happen next, or how you’re going to get your dressage dreams back on track, well, then Tigger knows exactly what to do.

He quietly goes to work, giving me little problems to solve, offering tiny sparks of brilliance here and there to tell me I’m on the right track, and reminding me, over and over, that everything is going to be just fine. Because, in the end, here I am, on a Friday night in a quiet arena with my favourite coach and this generous horse.

tigger dec 11

Somehow through those rides, I began to remember why I love schoolies. Here was this sweet little horse, responding to my aids, listening to my every word, working his behind off for me, just because I was asking him to. Like I said, he’s not fancy. He’s “just” a school horse. He’s just Tigger. But he has as much to offer (maybe more) as any big expensive warmblood out there.

Most of us don’t need a better horse. We need to better ride the horses we have. We need horses who understand that they have a job to do, and who can figure out what that job is. We need horses who are smart, and kind, and who give us what we need, when we need it.

Sometimes, we need schoolies.



3 Replies to “Sometimes We Need Schoolies”

  1. Now THAT is awesome! He sounds like a wonderful little horse, and how great that you can keep up the riding legs while Stella gets her groove back.
    That’s always the worry for me, somehow NOT having a horse, not being able to ride. Addicted, always looking for the next fix 🙂
    Happy to hear you’ve got a good, fun, training partner for now!

  2. Thank-you so much for this story about Tigger and how much he is helping you. I agree that he is a pretty special boy. He was born on my farm (Gahn Ya’ar Farm) and he has always been one of my very favourite ‘babies’. After I sold him as a weanling, he got a bumpy start under saddle and then was sent back to me for re-training. He was a star: no problems with his end of the deal. As you say, he has a super attitude – totally willing & generous – and at that time was athletic and capable of doing pretty much anything. I lost track of him when he was sold to a western rider down in the Valley, but I never forgot him. After a few years I decided that I really needed to track him down: he was too special to end up in the downward spiral that horses frequently end up in. Anyway, I finally found him at Anne’s place. I was reassured to find out that her school horses are well taken care of & are not sold when they become less useful. I sincerely hope that is true. I now keep track of him through various contacts at the stable, and if Anne should ever decide to let him go, I would fight anyone else to be the first in line for him. I have 3 of his half brothers here (same mare), and they are all very special to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s