It has been far too long since I had a good riding horse. I sold some good ones in the ten year sell-down from 1995-2005 and was left with retired horses or complex horses that needed more savvy then I had at the time. Until this fall, I had six horses here, four retired ones and two to bring along for riding. My palomino Morgan (the photo I use in my profiles) was coming along slowly, but that is a story for another post. The “lit-up” sabino roan TWH was needing time too. And I was having a hard time motivating myself to get out there and do the necessary work with them. In November, I took back one of my home-bred Morgans (Spirit Seeker, see post below from a few weeks back) but he needs some physical healing time for his belly to recover from very bad sweet-itch; no chance of wearing a cinch for a while for him.
I got to thinking of my past best riding horses. For the most part, they were from one family of Morgans, that of Lippitt Miss Nekomia. The Nekomias were tough horses—dominating, pushy, intelligent, bold, love-to-go, argumentative, opinionated, and very happy to be the leader of the horse-human partnership. Rarely a good horse for a beginner, my ex-husband and I started our Morgan life with two strong Nekomia mares and we both loved them and got along well with them. A long time Morgan breeder, who bred this family, once told me that the reason Lippitt Miss Nekomia did so well on the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance ride (Back in the late 1940’s, she was bred every year for an early foal so the foal could be weaned by the time of the ride. She won it one year and placed top ten the other years.) was that “she was too damm bullheaded to let another horse in front of her.” They are tough horses but once you win their respect, they will never quit on you. I realized that I missed the attitude of those bold and eager riding horses.
As has been said, “Be careful what you ask for because you may get it.” And I got it. Right into my lap dropped a little Morgan whose pedigree is ¼ Nekomia and he has all the Nekomia personality and temperament. Of course there is a catch—he lacks breed type and is a conformational train wreck. A friend and I have combed his pedigree and all we can say is that despite all the good horses in his pedigree, he lost the genetic crap shoot, getting the bad genes from his few dubious ancestors. With each leg pointing in a different direction, I hope he will stay sound for many years but have serious doubts about that. What he has going for him is that he was not only unridden until a year ago at age 5, but untouched too; I am within his weight carrying capacity (he is only about 14 hands and very slightly built) and I am starting him on good supplements that hopefully will do him some good for joint wear-and-tear. The woman I got him from did a very good job with his training. He is adjusting to his new person and environment. He has only really known one person who has now disappeared from his life to be replaced by me, so his worry comes up at times, but we are working things out. And being a Nekomia, he is going to question my leadership every day we are together but he is happily accepting my answers more quickly as we progress.
But the very best part is how confident I am riding him. I was on him the day after he arrived here. We did ground work first and I liked what I saw and got on to ride in the arena. The second ride was on the property and the third ride was out on the trails. He is sometimes hot, he is no beginner’s horse, and he requires that I really pay attention and use horsemanship. He has bucked once from exuberance, done some very quick moves, has spooked once at a large covey of quail blasting off all around us—and I am amazed at how easily I sit him with no fear! For someone who has spent most of her riding life riding with fear, I am happily beyond delighted. The confidence he has given me has carried over to riding my palomino, whose riding work is now progressing ever so much better now that I have the confidence he needs.
As I was riding him last week, it came to me how alive I felt, how right I felt. The small depression I was doing battle with the previous months is just gone. My life is now complete. My little Nekomia horse, who looks like generic horse and who has the worst set of legs I’ve ever seen, has earned the name of Lil’Red and a major place in my heart and life.
PS—I wrote this earlier last week, then set it aside for a bit. On Wednesday, Lil’ Red and I had the best ride we have had yet. Everything just clicked for us. We covered a lot of ground and saw some places to explore in the future. It gave me a good look at what we will have on a consistent basis before much longer. We were truly dancing together in harmony.