That would be Dusty, my first lesson horse at Touchstone Farm. And come to think of it, that would be me: a middle-aged, not so fit beginner rider.
To some people, “lesson horse” suggests a broken-down old nag with a lot of bad habits and big doses of stubborn and cranky. Horses like that are surely out there, but they aren’t at Touchstone Farm.
|Touchstone Farm horses are|
the curious, outgoing type,
like Kiddo here.
Training is a key component of maintaining happy lesson horses. It takes a special horse to put up with being ridden by a multitude of inept riders (me! me!) and still retain a firm grasp of the appropriate responses to aids.
At Touchstone Farm, lesson horses who seem to need a refresher will work with an experienced rider – usually an instructor or a Horse Power Instructor Training Candidate – to get back in shape for lessons.
Staff also keep an eye out for horses who show signs that they are ready to retire from the teaching profession. Boo says she has seen horses who have been willing lesson partners for years up and decide, “I just don’t like going around this ring anymore.” It’s in everyone’s best interest to thank such horses for their service and retire them from the lesson rotation.
During his stint as my lesson horse, Dusty kindly and patiently saw me through the rock-bottom basics of learning to ride:
- Entering a horse’s stall to put a halter on him and lead him out (“Really? Are you sure he won’t mind?”)
- Grooming and tacking up (sorry about the mess I made of getting your bridle on, Dusty!)
- Developing the balance to sit atop a horse in motion (where there’s nothing to hold onto that isn’t also moving)
- Learning to use hand and leg aids (and remembering that “inside” and “outside” are not the same as “left” and “right”)
Dusty gave me the opportunity to learn without fear and to experience the thrill of communicating with a big and powerful animal. Through him I realized that I could figure out inside/outside rein and leg, and all the rest of it, too. Dusty gave me the confidence to know I would figure it out, and I would love the process.
|Dusty & Nell get centered |
with Mitzi Summers.
After the clinic, a stretch limo for horses pulled up at the farm. Dusty was carefully wrapped and blanketed and installed in his limo/trailer. He set off in comfort and style for his winter home in South Carolina.
For my money, Dusty has earned every moment of his cushy retirement.
See you around the farm,
Rider and Volunteer at Touchstone Farm