I did a thing yesterday. A thing that I hadn’t planned on doing, but it was one of those moments where the stars just kind of align and the moment feels right, so you go for it, and I did. And it was a success!
My original plan for the day was to introduce Presto to the western saddle. He’s worn both my jump saddle and my dressage saddle before, but I’d like to do his first few rides in a western saddle, so I figured it was time to put it on him. It’s heavier and louder and clunkier but otherwise not much different, so I figured he wouldn’t really care, and I was right. I put it on him in the crossties, slowly tightened up the cinch, and went out to the arena to let him walk and trot around with it.
That was super boring after about 5 minutes, so I pulled the mounting block over and we did some of our usual mounting block lessons. Working on standing still, me leaning over him, me putting some weight in the stirrup, flapping the stirrups around, smacking the saddle, etc. We’ve done this enough to where he’s also extremely unimpressed with all that.
I upped the ante and stood all my weight in one stirrup, leaning across and patting his opposite side. Again, totally unimpressed.
So as I’m laying there across him I’m like “screw it, I’m just gonna throw a leg over and see what he thinks.”. So I switched his lunge line for a lead rope, went through all the typical pre-mounting stuff again, and this time when I put my weight in the stirrup and layed across, I paused for a few seconds and then swung my leg all the way over.
And next thing you know, I’m sitting on him.
I just sat there for a few minutes, talking to Hillary and the barn worker Ryan. Presto moved a little bit, mostly in small slow circles since I only had one lead rope, but he stayed SUPER calm and was happy to follow his nose around. I didn’t want to actually ride him, I just wanted to sit on him, and that’s what we did. He’s done so much of the pre-riding basics at this point that I don’t even think he realized anything new or strange had happened. He’s been used to me being above him for a long time now, and having my weight leaned on him. If anything, I think he was happier with me actually sitting astride because it was easier for him to balance.
I expected him to feel a lot scrawnier and smaller, considering how narrow and gangly he still is, but he felt pretty normal sized. He’s officially sticking 16h now, and I’m kind of glad that I went ahead and sat on him, because lord it is already a stretch to mount and dismount, even with the little mounting block. I’m definitely gonna need a 3-step by the time I’m actually ready to ride him for real. He’s still just a wee baby (ok maybe not so wee, but definitely a baby) so I won’t be riding him for quite a while yet, but… he’s officially backed. And my butt was the very first one to sit upon him. It’s a pretty special moment considering all we’ve been through in his short life. It makes me happy that I’m his person and he trusts me enough for this to have been such a non-event.
If I had wanted to, I’m pretty sure I could have trotted him around yesterday without any problems. With, ya know… two “reins”. We’ll do some more ground driving this summer and then I think I’ll be able to put a handful of short rides on him in the fall. Then I’ll bring him back out next spring and start hacking/trail riding a few times a week. He’s quiet about things, and he’s smart, and he catches on pretty quickly.
I swear the 2yo year is the longest. Just waiting… waiting… waiting for him to be older. I think I’ll be riding yesterday’s high for a while though.