One Handsome Dude
I had decided to ride Cash, for a variety of reasons. He seemed nice enough, a bit of a dopey cuddle-bug, but never too much in your space. He was attractive - ranch horse typey - big, strong, correct. To top it off, he had really nice calm eyes. For years people have been put on edge by my wild-eyed Jingle, and here I was, afraid of a horse that looked every bit the teddy-bear. Perhaps I am a fool.
At this point in my life with horses, I had ridden my fair share of babies. But, Cash was not a baby, he was an auction horse. I had yet, in my life, ridden a horse that had come from an auction - aka, completely unknown. I had always had someone be able to debrief me on personality, previous encounters with humans, etc. etc. This debrief came over a quick cup of coffee, "Bought him for a steal of a deal, looks solid, get on him and see what he does."
The day I decided to ride him could have been, potentially, very embarassing for me. Three riding leaders came out, as well as one's young child and a non-horsie husband, and we planned a small, nice and easy trail ride. Two of the auction horses would be ridden, Cash, and the little bay mare, Peso. The rest of our crew (including, of course the child) would be on our solid, dependables. If I was going to come off, it was infront of a lot more people than I generally prefer to come off around.
I think, I was a little annoying that day. (No me.. not me... never me). I took my sweeet time with Cash. I round-penned him, sent him through his basic groundwork paces. He passed with flying colours. Butterflies were still doing jumping jacks in my stomach. I tacked him up, he was an angel. Perhaps I was so used to flighty, hyper sensitive horses that I just didn't know what to do with a calm, steady horse. I felt like there was some time-bomb I didn't know about, ticking underneath his big 'ol hooves. Funny how that works, isn't it?
The only qualm he had were the bits I was choosing for him, he didn't like my argentinian snaffle, nor did he like my basic snaffle, I put him in a solid curb, nada. Finally, I pulled out a bit that I had bought earlier that year at a small used tack store. I honestly bought it because I found it interesting, I never thought I'd use it. It had really short shanks, with a roller in the centre, however, it also had two small balls that rolled independently on either side. It was a bit of a contraption. It turned out that Cash loved that damn thing, he's the first horse I've ridden that actually uses the rollers to placate himself. If he were ever nervous, you could watch his tounge and jaw work the bit around and around. The bit helped me with his only problem, a bit of a busy-head.
We headed out, our first test was almost immediate - cross a river. Cash never, ever excelled at corssing rivers in the two months I rode him. He would literally barrel through the water like a goddamn hippo being chased by gunfire. At first, it was terrifying, his legs would sprawl one way and another. Any attempts to slow him down and ask him to politely take his steps were futile. He needed to be on the other side. He hated the uneveness of the big river rocks. He didn't know how to gingerly move through them like all the other ranch horses. My stomach churned as he barreled through the river.
The ride we were going on was our easiest - dubbed "Moss Springs", for the natural spring you arrive at, however, today it felt as if it were full of tests - a river crossing out of the gate, and now a large field. Truly, a lovely field, with a bit of a rolling hill, but nice and straight - great for a good, long lope. I sucked it up and figured it was time to go for a trot. All of a sudden, I felt myself enjoying the most lovely trot I have possibly ever encountered, I sat down, let out my breath and we transitioned into a jog. Finally, I put my leg on and asked for a lope - right lead, check. smooth and controlled, check.
As I was marvelling at what an amazing horse I was riding, one of the riding leaders came up to me and commented "looks like you found yourself a rocking horse", and I certainly had. I soon discovered what my Big Yellow Horse was. He was an arena baby. (well, one can think). I used to envision his past life as we went on our rides. I think he had been owned by an older lady who had some experience, but was simply getting too up in her years to ride anymore. I think she put all the right buttons on him, but realized that she just couldn't swing her leg up anymore like she used too, and sold him.
Cash knew all the moves - sidepasses, rollbacks, back-up, circles, walk, trot, jog, lope, gallop - anything you asked of him, he would do. He could also collect, he'd come onto the bit, raise his back, and away we'd go. It was stunning. He, was truly stunning.
Jingle had been missing for a month, lost out on a neighboring ranches expanse of land. The lady who had supplied me with solid, wonderful horses to guide on the year before was gone. Horses were becoming a tight commodity around the ranch, and I knew I needed a guide-horse. I decided on Cash.
However, similiar to rivers, Cash was a Big Yellow Chicken when it came to things on the ground. Walking him through deadfall - we'd be tripping and bouncey and falling all around. He was a bit of an odd horse, I was able to open a barbed wire gate, stretch it across my leg, sidepass him through it, and then drop it so that my group could come through. However, given him an incline or decline, and he didn't seemingly know what to do with himself.
I quickly learned what an arena baby he truly was, when we encountered our first cliff...