Currently, my leased horse, Trooper, lives in the same barn as his owners mare, Penny.
That is about to change. Patti, the owner, has leased out a small apartment on their property to Tiffany.
Tiffany is about 35 years old. She has a soft, girlish voice. She’s a nurse and is moving from across the state to take a job here. Lucky woman, to find a job anywhere!
She’d originally told Patti that she was bringing a yearling colt with her.
Patti nixed the idea. Not that she dislikes colts, she doesn’t want a colt on the property for a few reasons. One, the barn is not set up for entire males. Penny, when she is in heat, is a royal pain in the ass. When we went on the obstacle course a couple of months ago, she was almost unmanageable. There was a loud and handsome Percheron stallion at the place whom she was determined to go and mate with, and she gave Patti nothing but trouble. I can only imagine how she’d be with an entire male right there in her barn, even if he is only a colt.
Most importantly, though, was what Patti told me. She said that Tiffany was a ‘beginner”. Oh my god. In the horse world, green horse + green rider = black and blue and the red lights of an aid car. Patti told her a colt is not a good idea for a beginner, a greenie. Patti had no idea just how green Tiffany was until the day Tiffany came to look at the apartment and subsequently sign the lease.
Tiffany showed up before Patti got home from work. Layne, Patti’s totally non-horsey husband, showed her around the farm. She wanted to meet the horses, and Layne obliged her by entering the alley between the pastures, where Penny and Trooper usually hang out. The problem was she was so green that she’d never learned the First Rule of Livestock: that being Leave the Gate the Way You Found it. If it ‘s closed, keep it closed. If it’s open, leave it open.
I imagine the problem was that she followed Layne into the alley. Layne should be clobbered for this. Even if he’s not a horseman, he should know the rules. Either way, Tiffany must have followed Layne through the gate-and left it open.
Penny saw an open gate and went through it. Trooper saw her leaving and said, “She’s Lead Mare, I’m following her.” Horses, when they’re loose, have no inclination to being put back up. There’s lush grass to eat and they’re going to eat it. Layne and Tiffany were apparently breaking the Second Rule, that of Don’t Waste Your Time Chasing a Loose Horse. It frightens them into a panic, or they turn it into a game.
Fortunately, Patti showed up right about then and found her two horses out, being chased by Layne and Tiffany.
Patti knew how to get the horses back into the pasture alley, and did so…but that’s when she realized that Tiff was WAY greener than she’d thought.
(I bet she gave Layne a piece of her very anal mind that night. She can be…aggressive when her horses, her babies, are put at risk.)
When things calmed down, Tiffany was properly introduced to Penny and Trooper. Of course, like me, she immediately fell in love with Trooper. Like my Jordan, Trooper has that ineffable charm, that gentle Arabian face, the kindness that is legendary in purebred Arabians.
Patti told Tiffany, what you need is an older horse, preferably a gelding, one who’s gotten over the dumb stages, one who’s well-trained and gentle. One like, well…….like Trooper.
Tiffany asked if she could buy Trooper. Patti..oh thank you, Patti, said, “No, he’s not for sale, and he’s already leased out.” I don’t know if Tiffany really understood what a lease means, because she asked if she could be in on the lease, as well.
Patti said, “No, I don’t want him to be confused with two riders. Sorry.”
Now, just between you and me, Trooper would have been fine with two riders. Tiffany wants to do trail riding on her weekends off, and I want time in the arena on the weekdays, improving my riding skills. But Patti is protective of her equine babies. I have proven that I can handle horses, both in hand and under saddle, and have already demonstrated that their care and well being comes before my own.
Hell, I rode Trooper bareback for over six months, solely because I wanted a saddle to fit HIM and had a hard time finding one.
I don’t think she wanted Trooper to be used that much, nor did she want a green rider up on him. He’s a good horse who needs the slightest and most gentle of hands. I don’t even ride him in a bit. Shifting my weight and cueing with my legs is all it takes to make him turn. But green riders don’t know that. I’ve just proven to myself that I’m no longer a green rider. I am a very advanced beginner!
He also needs a sharp comeuppance at times, just to remind him that his manners are still required. I don’t even need to swat him. A ferocious glare and a hard tone of voice is enough to bring him around. More so, I know when to apply discipline and when to leave whatever he did go. I can tell when a horse is pushing the edges of allowance, and when a horse does something because it is a horse. I am a novice only in my riding. In other aspects, I am a horsemaster.
Green riders don’t know that. Greenies are too ready to be nice to the horse, too soft. They are so overwhelmed by the charisma a horse emanates that they allow the horse to dominate THEM. Many people, especially women, are hesitant to discipline anything-their horses, their dogs, their kids, even themselves. They want to be “nice”. Nice doesn’t cut it in the horse world. Kindness, yes. Niceness, no. Horses respect a leader, and will walk over the ‘nice’ person.
Trooper, then, is all mine. Well, mine and Patti’s. I told Patti, if you ever decide to sell him, I get Right of First Refusal. I didn’t ask. I TOLD her. She agreed.
I met Tiffany this past Friday. She told me she just bought her first horse. He’s a 16 year old gelding ‘who looks just like Trooper.’ She said he’s a ‘sorrel?” (her question mark, not mine) Quarter Horse.
Well……no. Trooper is a bay Arabian. If she hasn’t even an idea of what color is what, she is indeed, green as grass. Not to mention that Arabians and Quarter Horses look different. But, they look different to people who know what that difference is.
Luckily for her, she’s fallen in with Patti…and me…who will teach her. Patti knows her shit, but she can be overbearing, and she’s especially anal when it comes to her horses. She doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Neither do I. But after a twenty plus year career in the Army, I know how to teach greenies. If Tiffany is willing to learn, we’ll teach her a lot of good habits without having to break her of bad ones.
But if she’s the type to not listen or be willing to be yelled at for doing something dangerous, she may not last with horses. Coming to horses that late in life is doable. I know several people who bought their first horse later than 35. But..it must be hard. When you’re a horse crazy kid, like I was, you soak it all up like a dry sponge soaks up water. Everything sticks, forever. You learn it without trying. You learn horse as easily as you learn to breathe. It comes without effort.
So it’s going to be-interesting-to see how the dynamics work out. Her with me and Patti, her with her new horse, the new horse with Penny and Trooper.