Superstitions

I am not a superstitious person – in fact I revel in horrifying others by parading underneath ladders, crossing people on the stairs, and not saying my ‘white rabbits’ at the beginning of a new month.  However – I seem to have somehow developed a little bit of superstition around a particular saddle cloth, a green saddle cloth.

Now, having done a little research I have learnt that green is considered some to be an unlucky colour.  Prior to researching this, and the incident I’m going to refer to happening, I would have not said I would consider green to be unlucky – in fact I would have considered the opposite.  Green to me is a colour that represents life, nature, general good stuff.  Green is also the colour of a clover – when found with 4 little leaves/sprouts (not sure what to call them!) they are considered to be lucky.

I can’t find a definitive reason why green is considered unlucky, though have found information about it being unlucky in Celtic folklore as it was the colour associated with death and misfortune.

Anyway, I digress.  When I selected my colour for Pinto’s wardrobe my instructor mentioned that my choice, bottle green, might be hard to come by as it was considered unlucky by many equestrians.  Ever keen to not entertain this notion I went ahead and bought him a green saddle cloth and green lead rope, and other green accessories.  Long story short, the first time he wore the green saddle cloth, I fell off him.  I thought nothing of it at the time (more concerned with my sore backside) and carried on.  But in the past few weeks I have noticed myself, when selecting my tack, considering the green saddle cloth, then dismissing it in favour of my well-used grey one, and then feeling guilty for not using the green one.  It dawned on me that I have become superstitious about this saddle cloth, and I can’t forget that green is considered unlucky.

This then got me wondering, what else to equestrians consider unlucky, and why?  After a bit of research I compiled quite a list!  These are the ones I found most interesting, or could add my own experiences.

Changing a horses name

The general consensus on this is that you shouldn’t, even if you don’t like the name, it is bad luck to change a horses name.  Lots of people can share experiences when they have changed a name and then that horse has caused them hefty vet bills, or has had an accident and become a field ornament, or worse PTS.

I considered changing Pinto’s name, but after some careful deliberation I decided against it, not because of the superstition (though I admit I would have wondered) but because I just couldn’t do it, though I wouldn’t have ever chosen ‘Pinto’ myself, it suits him, so Pinto it is.

Chestnuts, particularly mares

Chestnut mares are considered, on the whole, to be a handful.  This seems to stem from the typical ‘hot-headed’ breeds, and their tendency to be Chestnut, in particular Arabs and TBs.

In reality I don’t think a horse can be judged by it’s colour, and though some coat colours almost certainly can be linked to undesirable traits or are particularly susceptible to certain ailments (greys & coloured horses and their increased sarcoid and general skin issues risk pops to mind), I don’t think a call can be made on a temperament purely on coat colour.

When I was younger and attending a riding school my favourite mount was a Chestnut Arab mare called Rose-Marie, and she also had 4 white stockings (shock horror! see my next point), though speedy and an excellent Gymkhana pony, she was safe and not a fruit loop.

White socks

This one was new to me, I have always been drawn to horses with white legs, I consider 4 white stockings/socks to be very attractive, especially on a Chestnut (my affection for Rose-Marie probably has something to do with this).

I came across this, and though there are regional variations on the exact wording, the message is the same:

Four white socks, keep him not a day

Three white socks, send him far away

Two white socks, give him to a friend

One white sock, keep him ’til the end

A horse in your house

I like this one, and would love to see the look on my husbands face if I did this.  When you move into a new home, it is good luck to walk a horse through it.  I’m not sure what he’d say to hoof prints on the cream carpets..

You can also undo the damage of breaking a mirror or spilling salt in your house by walking a horse through it.

Coat patterns

I’ve come across this before in a book (Getting in Ttouch with your horse by Linda Tellington-Jones) about understanding horse personalities, and how certain coat patterns can give you some clue about a horse’s temperament and intelligence.

The first one I’m going to mention is a prophets thumb print, if a horse has one of these in their coat then it is considered lucky because it is considered to be a descendant of one of the Prophet Mohammed’s 5 mares.  My instructors mare has one of these on her chest.

The second worth a mention are whorls – spirals in the coat pattern.  These can occur anywhere, but are considered to be sign of intelligence when they are between the eyes.

 

That’s it, and I know I’m a little late.. but, White Rabbit, White Rabbit, White Rabbit!

 

Advertisements

Long overdue catch up!

Oh so it’s been a good 4 months since my last post, and there’s no particular reason for this other than I have been quite a busy little bee with work, life, and of course Pinto, and just haven’t sat myself down to write a new post. 

In my last entry I wrote about a fall I had, how I was glad I’d got it out of the way and our progress.  I’m pleased to report I haven’t had any unplanned dismounts since this one, and my security and balance have improved massively.  I’ve sat some big spooks recently and I’ve stayed firmly where I am – phew! 

Pinto turns 6 on Sunday, and I’ve had him now for 14 months.  In the past year and a bit we’ve come so far, but as with all my posts, there is work to do.  I’m now the proud owner of some brave pants which I don most of the time (I do still have the odd wobble) and my riding has become much more productive and purposeful.  

I’m not where I wanted to be at this point yet (hacking out solo), but I am riding solo in the school, dealing with bad behaviour and I’ve got him going forwards with purpose.  He is forward going, but he’s also aware that his owner has occasional useless tendencies, and he does look after me which I love him for. 

It was my birthday recently and my husband bought me a GoPro, so I will soon be able to share videos! I also treated myself to a beautiful portrait of Pinto, to accompany my beautiful Ruby (my dog) oil painting.  I also bought myself a new Charles Owen Pro II hat in silver.  Here’s the Pinto portrait..

Pinto immortalised – by Rachel Baker (if anyone wants her details just ask!)

In other news I am doing some work on my fitness, I’ve started running back from the field to the yard after I’ve turned Pinto and co out, which is about half a mile.  I’ve also been trying not to eat all the food, and have seen some results.  I don’t think whilst I am a horse owner and working full time I will ever get my gym routine back – I simply don’t have time  – but if I can continue to incorporate exercise into my everyday tasks then I figured this is a good place to start.  So if you see an out of breath equestrian running around the country lanes of Cheshire, or using a wheelbarrow full of poop as a weight, doing bicep and tricep exercises with it, that’s me! 

my birthday ride – excuse the wonkiness of my weight, its being addressed!

Highs and lows (the first fall)

It’s Saturday morning and I’ve got a big smile on my face after a good lesson last night after work with Pinto and my instructor.  We worked on our usual bits and bobs – my aides, getting everything together (currently can’t multi-task and think about what my arms, head, elbows, hands, bum, legs and feet are doing simultaneously!) and working on Pinto going forward and straight.  

 

Balancing 🙏🏻🐴
 
There’s a particular corner of the school that causes me issues, when riding round this corner I am doing something that causes Pinto to drift – I’m asking for the turn, but instead I get neck bend and drift into the edges.  It’s something we’re going to work on, but my instructor says it’s not a major concern and we will address it further down the line.  She then said something that struck a chord with me – ‘it doesn’t matter about that for now [the drift in the corner] because right now we’re working on other things because you’re actually riding him’.  

‘You’re actually riding him’.  Well yeah, I am.  My confidence issues are no longer at the forefront, he’s responsive and forward, and though I can’t co-ordinate my body to do all the right things all at once just yet, we’re getting there.  But it made me think – have I ever really properly ridden?  Have I always been a bit of a passenger?  My riding history is quite standard – started in a riding school, rode a variety of ponies but once I was established I favoured two in particular (a steady Fell mare and a speedy Arab mare).  I took part in lessons, did some low level jumping (nothing more than 50cm) and hacked out in a group.  

 I’ve never had an as-green a horse as Pinto before, so maybe this has something to do with it.  I can ride, I’ve ridden on and off for 20 years.  Or maybe I can sit on a horse, ask it for certain movements etc but I don’t think I’ve ever had as close a bond as I do with Pinto with any other horse.  My current re-education was to bring me back into work, and to teach me Classical Riding, which is all about (to me in seems) a ‘less is more’ approach which I love. 

All my previous riding experience has been non-Classical training, it was standard RS style – give him a kick!  I’ve learnt so much already with the classical style – mainly to stop driving with my seat (bad habit, it’s on it’s way out!).  Given that Classical is a ‘less is more’ approach and when done well it looks effortless (we’re no where near that yet haha!) then maybe that is proper riding?  And everything I’ve done up to now was just a warm up?  I suppose I won’t know for sure until we’re established and I reach the etherial heights of ‘unconscious competence’ (ie. Doing the right thing automatically!).  

From today’s lesson. I fell off after this photo was taken during some trot work. He spooked and I didn’t accompany him 🤕

And we’re off! 

At the end of January I reluctantly moved out of my instructors house and returned to our suburban home after 4 fun weeks of looking after the yard.  My husband was happy to go home as that’s where his big TV is and the wifi is super fast; but for me, though it was good to come home, I don’t half miss living in the sticks and that type of property is definitely on our 10-year plan now.  Even the hubster agrees (providing we can get a fast internet connection!). 

It’s been 3 weeks since my instructor came back and oh my gosh have we made some progress!  Pinto is officially ‘rising 6’ (I don’t like the horsey way of saying that, I prefer telling people he’s turning 6 on June 15th, and yes there will be a party and cake 😉) and he’s matured a lot over the winter.  We’re now trotting, and even a little bit of canter work.  It’s all going so well and I have a stupid smile attached to my face constantly at the moment.  

It’s also been an expensive month, with Pinto becoming the proud wearer of a brand new saddle – we went for the VSD model from Solution Saddles.  He was backed in a treeless and having ridden treeless before myself too it made sense to stick with it.  It’s lovely and comfortable and we both enjoy riding in it.  He’s also becoming kitted-out in all his new clobber too – photos to follow – which includes 2 new bridles, numnahs, saddle cloths, sticky gel seats for me, sparkly browbands for him, and a plethora of bottle green accessories (bottle green being the colour scheme). 

And – the light is coming back!  How wonderful it is to leave work and be able to see my hand in front of my face.  Everything is good in the world!  A quick note about my riding confidence – we’re getting there!  The jitters are becoming less and less, and I’m enjoying riding, so much so I’m now occasionally having happy cries post-ride (how embarrassing!).  I said to my instructor over the weekend I feel like I’m getting my ‘old confident self back’ but having thought about it I don’t want that version back – instead I want the confidence I used to have, but the better rider I am becoming – a hybrid version of my former self and my new self. 

Sporting the VSD

Winter Woes, Christmas & Progress?

Like everyone else with horse/s in the UK for the past couple of months, I am absolutely sick and tired of the rain.  Like everyone else I’ve got very little riding done and my pony was quite fed up with being cooped up.  The turnout field is liable to getting very wet, and seeing as it’s rented from a local farmer we cannot churn it up (some of the fields I have seen around there with their equine residents still in them are a right state!).  So Pinto and his pals have been stabled with daily turnout in the school for at least 6 weeks now.  Which is not ideal, but needs must.

  

The gang waiting to come back in to their stables and enjoy some hay.

November was productive for us, my riding improved and I got a bit of consistency back in my routine with Pinto, I was able to ride most evenings after work and I felt like we were coming on leaps and bounds again.

So, what’s new? Well, I’m pleased as punch to be Pinto’s owner, officially.  I bought him on Wednesday 16th December.  I had planned to buy him for myself for Christmas, and one afternoon at work whilst using my Santander app on my phone just transferred his owner the money for him.  I head to the yard after work and that evening I arrived to find his stable with fairy lights strung up around the doorway, a bag with a bow on it attached to the latch.  Inside was his passport, ready for me to complete and send off to the Welsh Pony & Cob Society for the official ownership transfer (it arrived back with me earlier this week).

The day I became his owner.
 
At the beginning of December I had an operation which put me out of action for 3 weeks, annoyingly.  With all the rain we had it turned out not to be too bad, but I was bored, keen to ride and build upon the progress I had made the month before.  Just before Christmas after 3 weeks out of the saddle I rode for about 20 minutes, taking it easy.  Pinto enjoyed the change, as I’d just been long reining him for the 3 weeks.  Then came Christmas, and shortly after my husband and I went on holiday to Iceland for 5 days.  Amongst other things we went riding whilst we were there, which was fantastic.  I experienced the tölt!

 

EldHestar riding centre just outside Reykjavic, Iceland.
 
When we arrived back the UK on New Years Eve I headed straight to the yard to see Pinto and collect Ruby who had been staying here with my instructor/YO.

IMG_0430.JPG
Ruby posing in a wheelbarrow!
Fast forward and it’s now the middle of January.  The rain, which hasn’t stopped, has just been replaced by snow, and we got a light dusting of the white stuff overnight.  My instructor is on a much-deserved holiday of a lifetime with her partner, so I’m looking after the yard for the month of January (and loving it I should add!).

 

Being here so early means I get to enjoy the sunrise every morning.
 
It’s wonderful to see Pinto so much, and he seems to enjoy having me around.  Our work load is still light, though I’m managing to do something with him nearly every day.  My confidence isn’t just there at the moment to just get on, I need the guidance and safety net of my instructor, though we’ve done lots of productive ground work and doing trotting pole work from the ground, which Pinto really enjoys – he makes some beautiful shapes.

 

Taken today, Pinto looking relaxed and contemplative. Excuse the wee stain on his shoulder! It’s not warm enough for a bath.
 
In other news I tracked down his second owner.  She bought a mare with a foal at foot from travellers, that foal is my Pinto.  She’s kindly given me some foal pictures of him, he was (and still is) completely adorable.

Pinto as a foal and yearling ❤️🐴

Leaps and bounds

After what felt like a very long two weeks of very little riding (two short sessions) due to the horrendous weather, I’m pleased to report that I spent all weekend riding! Not only did I ride Pinto, but my instructor (and all-round horse oracle) let me ride her ex-CIC*** eventer, Wulfie. 

On Saturday I sprang out of bed and tentatively peeked between the curtains – sunshine! Leaving hubby happily occupied with a brand new game for his PS4, we (the dog and I) drove to the yard and set about getting Pinto tacked up and warmed up.

Pinto behaved impeccably considering he is a youngster and hasn’t done much ridden work over the past fortnight. I experienced the feeling he has telepathic properties again too – he placed his feet in turn, carefully and measured – sensing I had perhaps forced my ‘brave pants’ on and my confidence was slightly feigned. We had a wonderful short 20 minute lesson, we worked on getting a positive walk and keeping our lines clean and straight. With a huge grin on my face I gave my pony a hug and hopped off. 

 

And we’re off!
 
My instructor then suggested we take ‘the big two’ for a hack. Soaring on my reinforced confidence I agreed, and after tacking Wulfie and his sister Echo up, off we went! Wulf is a lot bigger than Pinto, and it was a novel feeling being heads above everything else, seeing easily over the high hedgerows that line the country lanes. Being the gent he is, Wulf looked after me, and I even enjoyed a lovely smooth trot on our way back. What goes up must come down, and I made a complete hash of getting off Wulf. In a bid to save myself falling through the air to the ground below, I tried to dismount onto the mounting block. My left foot found the block without issue, but sadly my right leg didn’t follow and remained on top of Wulf’s saddle. After hopping about a bit my right leg joined the left and stepped down to the ground. Wulf looked at me sideways as if to say ‘idiot’, I gave him a thank you pat for standing rock solid and untacked him. 

Sunday was much more of the same and I arrived at the yard early. I helped another loaner with her pony and then got Pinto ready for another lesson. We worked on turning, and my instructor helped me find a way of keeping Pinto going forward in his turns, instead of causing him to jackknife into the electric fence that surrounds the school (thankfully not switched on!). I discovered that clamping my elbows to my waist and turning Pinto like a Dalek seemed to work, and I enjoyed my instructor shouting ‘Dalek arms!’ at me every time I slipped back to old habits. 

As always I have lots to work on, but I feel like I’ve come so far already considering where I was a few months ago. No longer do I resemble a wobbly pudding at the suggestion of getting on to ride. Pinto’s mounting block manners have improved loads too – I got on first time both days! So pleased. 

I also picked Pinto’s colour scheme for his tack – we’re going with dark green. Photos to follow! 🐴

The wish list

As I prepare myself for horse ownership I’ve been finding myself eyeballing all of the beautiful (and mostly unnecessary) bits and bobs I’d want for Pinto if I had a bottomless money pit.  Some are practical (everyone needs a sparkly browband don’t they?!) and some are really not (lambswool on a hairy, sometimes dirty, pony). 

I will do my best to accumulate these and will be sure to include photos of Pinto sporting them as and when we acquire them (except maybe the saddle pad – beautiful but I don’t think it’s practical, sigh).  I’ll list the practical first..

 

English leather comfort bridle
 
First is this beautiful bridle. It’s English leather, with a padded noseband and poll strap bit (I have no idea what this part is called!), and is a rare find because it doesn’t have a flash or loop for a flash (they seem to be everywhere now). The best feature of this is obviously the browband, and patent noseband. 

 

Monty Roberts Dually
 
Second is a Dually. I use one of these already, but they’re borrowed from the yard owner, so I’ll need my own. 

 

Chicken rug
 
Ok, so maybe the print is a bit silly, but it is practical. Why wear a plain rug, when you can wear one with chickens on?! 

 

Pastel coloured lead ropes

These always go missing when you need it – so it’s a good idea to have a couple. I love the colour (though not sure how long they’d stay this colour!). 

  

Softshell jacket

Obviously this would be for me – I love this because look all the abundance of pockets! It’s warm, great for layers, dark coloured (won’t show up the slobber!) and I can stash things in the pockets. 

 

Sheepskin girth cover

So this is the first of the not so practical – I think it wouldn’t stay clean for long and possibly be a bit smelly too. But oh so beautiful. I think Pinto would love it too. 

 

Lambswool saddlepad
 
And finally, behold the beautiful lambswool saddlepad.  I would have it in black with probably the black wool to match the girth cover (and because I’m not convinced the natural colour trim would stay that colour for long).  I don’t know if I can have one of these as I’ll be riding in a treeless saddle with a dorsal pad underneath, so that may mean I can’t have this as well. Even so, it won’t stop me lusting after one.