Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Which I Discover That I May Be A One Trick Pony...

The General...
Today was blissful, as about 70% of my day was spent in a barn.  This is unusual, and I offer a big thanks to my employer for shutting the offices for the holiday week and allowing me this luxury.  Not only did I ride the Sainted Mare, who was her usual Sainted self, but I got to ride my friend Libby's horse Stratego (pronounced Strah-teh-go, as in the greek word for General, not Struh-TEE-go, like the game.)

If you've been following for a while, you may remember Stratego from this post.  Stratego is very large (think good sized SUV) and very aware of his status as a prey animal.  He's also a big lovebug, and his greatest goal in life might just be to become somebody's lap dog.  We used to joke that Stratego was special, as in "little yellow bus" special, with his own place in the "Statego-sphere" but really, he's matured a great deal and has been quite an amazing boy in recent months. 

So I was pretty darn psyched when my trainer asked if I had time to ride him today.  He looked as happy to see me as I was to see him (I am the Auntie who does "scratchies" for him every night), and up I climbed...and climbed...and climbed and off we went.  Well, maybe not "off we went."  Stratego and Sug are completely different models, with completely different acceleration and braking, different gears, and well, a completely different on board computer system. 

Have you ever gotten into a rental car and driven off, only to find yourself in a rainstorm and without a clue as to where the wipers were located?  That was the first 20 minutes of my ride on Stratego.  His head was so far up in the air he resembled a well fed flea-bitten giraffe.  Touch his face too much and he'd actually speed up.  Add leg, and he'd shoot off like he'd been goosed.  Subtract leg, and he'd stall.  The experience was quite humbling, really.  And fun, since I had to start from square one and re-introduce myself to him, and figure out which buttons to push and which to avoid.

For instance, I initially took the Supportive Auntie route when he had to give every fence in the ring VERY CAREFUL CONSIDERATION, despite the fact he'd jumped them all at least 56 times before.  After a while, though, I began to get the impression that I was being played, so I dropped Supportive Auntie in favor of Benevolent Dictator.  His reaction? "Oh, you're right, those fences aren't cougars.  We're safe. Off we go!"

I won't say our ride was a thing of beauty, but eventually it became less like that game of charades you see when you come across a tourist in a foreign land trying to communicate with a local and more like a somewhat halting but mostly comprehensible dialogue.  I'm hoping to have a few more rides on Stratego before Libby returns, so I can become more fluent in Stratego-ese.  He really is a wonderful teacher, and because of that, he got quite a few scratchies from Auntie Amy.

Thank you, Libby, for going on vacation!!


  1. I love riding other horses too, for the same reasons -- I learn so much. And gain a new appreciation for my own horse's tolerance of my bad habits and quirks....

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun! Great that you could have a long barn day. Stra-teh-go is cute.

    Also employing the benevolent dictator "strategy" around here. ;)

  3. I always love to get on a new horse and try to trasnlate what I have learned to that new horse. It makes me feel awesome when I figure out how I need help the horse understand what I want to happen. I hope you soon become fluent in Stratego-ese. :)