Who Can Ride My Horse?

I mean I’m pretty sure literally anyone CAN ride Frankie. He’s not a tough ride. So maybe a more appropriate title is: who MAY ride my horse? This is a much shorter list.

And it’s a list that has evolved over time, and changes based on a couple different factors.

Last year, I would put Frankie in the lesson program when I was out of town and have one of the other ammy riders hop on.This was sufficient to meet my criteria of 1) keeping Frankie working and 2) not ruining my horse.

Earlier in the winter, I was a bit more relaxed about this as well- I had one of our juniors hack Frankie for me when I was home for the holidays and she did a great job with him! He was, of course, a gentleman for her and she enjoyed riding him.

dsc_0068
Literally this horse will put up with anything

I have always taken great joy in having literally anyone briefly flat him around. I’m always trying to get people’s parents up on him for pony rides, and will swap horses with the barn kids for a few laps around. I know Francis will be chill about it, and I know a few lapsΒ  won’t undo any training. It warms my heart to see my sweet boy taking care of the novices.

I’m also OK with some of the stronger barn kids doing a bit more with him under my trainer’s supervision- I trust her judgement about what they can do with him, and I know her first priority with him is keeping him show-ready.

But for pretty much any situation besides a short hack, my list of people I want on my horse narrows dramatically- especially during show season.

My basic rule of thumb during this show season is: I only want people on Frankie that are better riders than me (other than myself, obviously). I only want people adding to his training, because I certainly undo enough of it myself. This means that my first choice is to pay for a pro to hop on if I’m not available to ride (and even sometimes when I am available to ride).

Because this year we’re asking for a more extended season (starting earlier, showing more) and we’re asking for more intense work (bigger jumps, more classes). He’s certainly athletic enough for the move up, but he does actually have to work harder now and I want to do everything in my power to prepare him for his job. That means increased fitness and sharper tools in our toolbox- with the emphasis on that “sharper” part.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the ability to ride Frankie safely. In case you couldn’t tell from the EVERYTHING I’VE EVER SAID, Frankie is a supremely chill easy ride. His favorite gait is the halt and he will bop around on the buckle for the rest of his life if you let him. But that last part is exactly why I’m so picky about who hops on him: we don’t want him bopping around on the buckle. We want him connected, on the bit, pushing across the ground, firing on all cylinders. Which he is also quite happy to do (more and more), but only if we reinforce that way of going with consistency.

17
We love stretchy trot, but sometimes he has to pick his nose up so he can see the jumps

I’ll relax a bit about this after our show season slows down in the fall. Heck, I’m planning on taking him in some local pleasure classes for a nice change of pace. And if anyone at the barn is in need of a safe mount with some fun buttons, we’ll leg them right up for a ride.

They’ll just have to deal with my controlling-mother tendencies for a few more months.

How do you decide who can hop on your horse?