King has gained enough weight that I feel okay about riding him for short periods. Normally, I would wait longer, but I get the feeling that he’s bored and would like to have a change of scenery. The horses live in a small field because land is at such a premium here, and I’m sure they get a little bored looking at the same stuff every day. I started out riding King in the arena for a few minutes at a time, but mostly he just stood at the gate and pawed like he wanted to go somewhere.
I must stop here and tell you that I am fairly certain that King has never been ridden before. I imagine people have sat on him at some point, but as far as being a trained riding horse- nope. He pulled a buggy for the Amish and they must not have ridden him, because he knows nothing. I figured that out really quickly. When I use my reins or my legs, he doesn’t understand what I want. He doesn’t seem to mind me being on his back, but he also seems like he’s not quite sure what I’m doing up there, like, “Hey, lady, aren’t you supposed to be behind me in a buggy?”
Riding him in the arena was not working at all. The concept of walking in circles along the rail is completely foreign to him. He just walks to the gate and stands there. I tried riding him out in the yard, and he went off down the road as happy and relaxed as could be. Now that he could understand- we were actually going somewhere! Since that went well, I decided to try him at the beach. My friend Kayla and her horse Voodoo went with us, in case King needed an emotional support animal. He didn’t, though.
We hopped on at the trailer and King went off merrily down the road toward the beach. I have walked him at that spot and ponied him off Baron, so he knew where to go. We rode a short distance, probably less than a mile and I figured we should turn around so as not to overdo it. He’s still thin and under-muscled, after all. But no, King didn’t want to turn around. He wanted to keep going. I tried and tried to turn him, and he both did not understand and then also chose not to cooperate when he did understand because he was having a big day out at the beach and he wasn’t ready to end it! Voodoo turned back toward the trailer to see if we could get King to follow him, but King couldn’t have cared less. He was 100% unconcerned when his friend CANTERED away from him in the other direction. Baron is 18 years old and I’ve been riding him for years, and he still gets upset if his friend canters away without him. Not King. King is confident. King is perfectly happy to be out on the town by his lonesome.
I finally convinced King to turn around and head for home. Then he decided he just had to see what was on the other side of the dunes. It is a huge no-no to walk on the dunes. The dunes and the sea grasses that hold them together are the only barrier between the inhabited part of the island and the might of the Atlantic Ocean. We protect the dunes at all costs! I spent the whole ride home keeping him out of the dunes!
Here is where I must make a quick note about tack. I do not have a bridle big enough for his giant jughead. He needs a warmblood sized bridle. Baron’s bridle doesn’t work. King’s head is MASSIVE. Not having any other option, I rode a horse (that I’m pretty sure has never been ridden) for the first time on the beach in a halter and reins, which is the set up in which you have the least amount of control. I felt comfortable because up until now he’s given me every indication that he’s a solid citizen. I took a gamble and won!
I basically had no power steering. He doesn’t understand leg cues so, to turn him, I had to pull his giant head around and get him facing the direction I wanted to go. It was not very effective. We did a lot of circling. I will be ordering him a bridle soon, but at least I found out that he does really well bitless.
I was amazed and overjoyed to find that he is about as chill as a horse can be. When he got frustrated about me trying to turn him, he would paw the ground with his hoof to communicate his annoyance. Never once did he get bucky, or pin his ears, or act ugly. He plodded along like an old plow horse, relaxed as could be, even when Voodoo left us. That’s a big deal. The beach is a wide open space and a lot of horses want to take off, and there are lots of distractions for spooky horses to spook at. I thought I was going to lose my life the first few times I rode Baron on the beach. But King was an absolute delight. I have anxiety about riding sometimes, but I didn’t have any today, because King was relaxed and I could feel it. He was having fun, and I could feel that too. You can feel when a horse is nervous or amped or about to explode. King was none of those things. For our first real ride, it could not have gone any better.