Faster, always

Freedom steaming in the fall air.
On a chilly fall day, steam rises off of Freedom at the check. While this was taken last year, it’s pretty typical. He gets hot because he’s so excited to be out in the hunt field.

During the twelve years when I owned Kroni, I got used to the Warmblood idea of galloping. Kroni liked to move along in the hunt field but he had a very well installed slow down cue. If you whispered “whoa” and sat back, he’d happily slow right down and walk on a loose rein.

So, when I started to hunt Freedom, I had to wrap my mind around the idea that he had at least one more gear, maybe two, a much bigger engine and a hair trigger gas pedal. This is a horse who was bred to run and he loves to do it. We never go fast enough for him. I don’t think I’ve ever felt his top speed and I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try.

I was reminded of that when I was hunting him today. To take the edge off him I rode him hard yesterday. We had a couple of good gallops and long trots. Then this morning, I rode him before I loaded him on the trailer. We cantered around the field for 12 or 15 minutes. Continuously.

When we got to the hunt, he was well behaved. But he was not tired, just not bouncing up and down or running sideways.  I guess I never really understand what galloping could be before I rode him; we can be moving along at a pretty good clip (reference the Warmblood gallop) and yet when I allow him (I never have to press) to move forward, it’s like a turbo-charged blast of power and I realize that he’d been cruising along in second gear when he’d like to be in fifth.

Today I let him run. I feel confident that his ligament is holding up well and it was a crisp, clear day. The wind blasting by brought tears to my eyes and I could feel his joy as he surged forward. He would have kept going. He is always disappointed when I bring him back to a walk.

When I first got him, I had a plan. I would take him to a large field near the barn and gallop him until he was tired. Then I’d ask him to go a bit farther. I thought this would run the sillies out of him and teach him to conserve his energy and listen to me. After we’d circled the field twelve times (this is not a small field), I was so tired that my legs ached. He was still snorting like a dragon. I realized then I would never be fit enough to ride him to a state of fatigue.

I no longer think he will get tired while the adrenalin is still pumping! I just try to appreciate his boundless energy and his love of going just a little faster, please.

2 thoughts on “Faster, always

  1. That’s how I feel about Simon. The more I ask him to go the happier he is working! I’d love to hunt or have a big field to ride him in so I could really feel him gallop to his heart’s content.

  2. I loved reading this. It reminded me of a paso/TB cross I once loved, who had a deep passion for galloping as well. I made the same mistake as you – attempting to gallop him past his comfort level in hopes that he’d be more respectful of my aids next time I half-halted – and it backfired on me, too!

    It’s hard to fault them for loving what they’re born to do.

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