the reiner inside

We made a discover in my most recent riding lesson: Midas was a western horse once.

It started because I was picking up the reins to show my trainer what Midas can do with the bitless bridle. He was in a very agreeable mood, so I was quite surprised when he immediately backed in a tight circle the moment I picked up contact. He does this now and then, I find it mysterious, and sometimes frustrating because I wasn’t asking him to back–at least in the English fashion.

My trainer, being a trainer and also on the ground, began to suspect. That was a western move, she said. So we tried it a number of ways, halt, drop the reins, pick up the reins, see what he does. Then, try again, holding the reins lower. We tried a number of different things, and uncovered that when I pick up the reins, hands high, he backs. Depending on factors I haven’t quite isolated, it triggers a backing pattern–where he backs quickly and swings his bum left and backs some more. Sometimes in an entire circle if I don’t drop the reins. Now, experimenting, we tried out and out neck reining in loop de loops at trot and he handled great. Like, we even did a little bit of that spinning maneuver.

Good heavens, I have a reiner. Before he fox hunted, he did reining or maybe cutting.

Now, I haven’t ridden western seriously since I was 9 and just learning to ride. I have trail ridden western, so the reining world is just something I’ve watched with fascination. But now I have a lot of reading to do.

Another interesting discovery in this lesson is that he exhibits tendencies of a horse who washed out of being a driving horse. I was describing his keen distaste of having things in his blind spot, and also his aversion to the lunge whip. These are features which, if he hasn’t already washed out of driving, he would. Considering that when we were out at a show last someone wanted him for their carriage, I would say there is a good chance he may have already washed out.

How many lives have you lived, horse? And no one scratched behind your ears or under you mane to say hello?

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