Don't tell my husband because he'll get the wrong idea, but I've formally declared open season on Starbuck. It's not that I want to wear her out, but if I want to take her on all day trail rides at some point (and hopefully half day trail rides pretty soon), it's not fair to her if the only conditioning she gets beforehand is a pretty light hour-long lesson with me five days a week and a couple of longeing or roundpen sessions. I've also noticed that Marina's lesson horses are MUCH more robust than the privately owned horses - of course part of that is that private owners tend to notice changes in the status quo quicker and be a lot more paranoid than the folks who take lessons on a different horse each week, and we do freak out and call the vet for things which perhaps don't merit much more than neosporin or at the most stallrest. But the lesson veterans don't have nearly as many colds, lameness episodes or other issues as the private horses do, even though a lot of them are nearing retirement age. And I think most of this is simply that they get more exercise and less coddling than the private horses, so I want her to start getting at least two hours of exercise a few days a week. Finally, if I only ride Starbuck and she's only ridden by me, we'll likely only end up finding "workarounds" to conceal our our bad habits (like using too much leg, slouching to the right and letting my shoulders hunch forward, or like keeping her head in the air, letting her hind legs trail behind her and spooking) instead of actually being motivated to identify and fix them.
So by now, coinciding with the day my CSA veggie basket has to be picked up in town and Saturday afternoon which is my siesta time, Lola's been riding her most Thursdays and Saturdays for months, which in my opinion is really positive - Lola has a much better seat than I do and is pretty much fearless not to mention probably 20 pounds lighter so at least Starbuck's been getting a different experience twice a week from her chubby, unbalanced and neurotic owner who tenses up with every gust of wind. Here are some recent videos of Lola and Starbuck:
But then my CSA delivery changed from Thursday to Wednesday, so I could go to the stable on Thursday but not on Wednesday, when Lola's not there. So I asked Alberto, Alex and Marina (not my teacher, just has the same name) three of the more experienced kids whose horses are pretty much on the same crazy level with Starbuck if they wanted to take turns riding her on Wednesdays and they said absolutely. So on Thursday both Lola and I will ride Starbuck, and Wednesdays are covered too. And finally, there's a guy named Boris who recently started riding but is a total natural and has been on nearly all the horses at the stable - he just bought two young horses and is trying to get as much riding experience as possible, riding 3 and 4 times on the days he's there (he's a pilot so he has one of those weird work-five-days-get-five-days-off schedules). Since I like the way he rides as well, the other day I just mentioned to him that if he wanted to ride Starbuck any old morning he was welcome to and he said yes, so I've got him on the roster as well. Here they are, getting to know each other:
Anyhow I know that there are all kinds of horror stories about people's horses being "ruined" by having them ridden by other people but I honestly think that all of these folks have something to teach Starbuck and I can always turn selfish again and "take her back" if I see it's going badly. Having seen all of them ride out-of-control horses at one point or another, I'm confident she won't be abused or mistreated by any of them, and I think that her getting a few more hours a week of exercise and experience can only be a good thing.