The past three weeks have been a very novel and exciting time as I search for a new horse to ride. Since returning to Acorn Farm and having such a fabulous ride on Renzo on September 21, with the help of trainer Nathalie Cooper, I’ve had the opportunity to try another two horses: Rambo Star and Jubilant. I have a lot to share, so I’m splitting this into two separate posts. This one talks about my ride on Rambo.
Nathalie has an outstanding track record of matching horses with riders to create winning teams in the arena. Her expertise lies in understanding the magic that happens when human and animal meet and click into a deeply rewarding relationship. When complimented on this talent, she modestly responds that that’s her job–but not everyone is as good at their job as she is. She’s a human/equine matchmaker par excellence. She seems almost to have a sixth sense. Yes, Nathalie knows what her clients want and need and which horse shows promise of delivering with interlocking capabilities, but she also comprehends a deeper, intangible je ne sais quoi, the magic ingredient that cements the horse’s and rider’s connection and trust into a lasting bond.
Nathalie was true-to-form the day I rode her first pick for me, Renzo. With that choice, she hit the nail on the head so hard it made me dizzy. I loved him. I was flying so high after my ride, Cloud Nine was a distant speck below me. I really wanted to own Renzo and was terribly disappointed when I was outbid and lost him. He’s my One-That-Got-Away. Yet even as Nathalie was giving me the news on the phone that I’d lost the chance to own Mr. Perfect, she was making arrangements for me to try another horse.
The second horse-date I was invited to took place on Wednesday October 3rd. It was with a very handsome gelding boarder at Acorn Farm: Rambo Star. This time, it wasn’t a purchase situation, it was a half-lease, where owner and lessee each get to ride half of the time and contribute half of the board and training costs.
This is Rambo and his owner Tyler competing beautifully in their first show together in April, 2012:
Rambo is a big boy, probably about 16.2/16.3h. He’s muscular and beautiful… and has the biggest feet I’ve ever seen on a horse! 🙂 Nathalie says he’s like the “body-builder” horse of the barn. His size and strength were a little intimidating to me. Rambo wasn’t in an energetic mood on the morning I arrived to try him. I’ve often watched Tyler ride Rambo at the walk, trot and canter, both in schooling sessions and at the shows, and I began to realize how much better a rider Tyler is than me!
Rambo and I were finally able to get going at the trot, but he needed lots of encouragement. After that, it was time for the canter. As I tried to get the canter depart from the walk, I gave Nathalie a few giggles. Rambo misinterpreted the pressure from my outside heel and we ended up doing a very nice side-pass across the ring! “We’re doing dressage!” she laughed.
So next we tried transitioning to the canter from the trot. I was squeezing and kicking like my life depended on it, and not getting anywhere until, at Nathalie’s direction, I added a tap with the crop at the same time.
This seemed to be the magic combination. Rambo lifted up into a nice, big, smooth canter. Again he needed lots of encouragement but we got in a couple of laps cantering around the ring in each direction.
Nathalie suggested that, now I’d learned the knack of getting Rambo going, I should come back the following morning and try him again. I was non-committal because it had taken an awful lot of energy for me to get him going and I didn’t know if I could do that again so soon!
However, very soon afterwards, Nathalie quickly came up with another alternative: Tuesday October 9, let’s try a gorgeous 16h European Warmblood sporthorse mare that’s for sale at Rancho Agradecido in Valley Center, San Diego County!
I was a bit torn. I know that Nathalie has seen something in Rambo that she feels would help me learn, and knowing her aptitude for matching horse and rider, I wasn’t going to dismiss that lightly. By the end of the session, Rambo was starting to understand what I was asking for, so we had that to build on.
Having seen him perform, I know that Rambo has a lot to offer. He’s a wonderful mover and jumper with classic good looks. We’d need to work hard on our communication skills and get used to each other to we can figure out if we’re could be good fit. So Rambo’s still a definite maybe.
Right now, I’m keeping my options open because Nathalie keeps coming up with such terrific choices. I’m like a kid in a candy store… even though it’s a little scary, I want to try them all! 🙂