I realized that I have not shared any stories about horses that I have known lately, so today’ the day!
Like so many other kids, I started riding in a lesson barn. I rode in groups lessons on a whole bunch of different, old kid-proof horses. Some of which I liked more than others. You know how it is with horse crazy kids and lesson barns, everyone has their favorites.
Bay Medium Pony
If my memory serves me correctly, Jericho was either a large medium or a small large pony. She was a bay with black points and I don’t remember her having any white on her at all.
Jericho In Her Usual Spot
All the lesson horses had their regular spots where they were usually tied up. Jericho’s regular parking spot was right by the door that leads to the tack room. Not only the tack room but the chalkboard. If you have ever been a lesson kid you know the anticipation of looking on the board to find out who you were riding that day.
I rode at this barn for a long time before I was ever put on Jericho. Still, I had been paying close attention to her from the very beginning. Just because of where she was always standing. I had to pass her a few times each lesson. Jericho always seemed to have her ears back and to be snapping her teeth at someone.
When she was just standing tied up by herself, she just seemed to wear a bland, uninterested in life look all the time. I don’t remember her ever looking curious or happy. She basically stood around looking pretty dull.
In my little kid mind, I could not understand why a horse would act so grumpy and mean. Not to mention, if a horse was that way, why it would be used for lessons.
My Turn To Ride Her
Secretly, I was always glad that I was too tall and so I had never been put on Jericho in a lesson.
I don’t remember grooming or tacking her. I’m sure she tried to bite me! I was shaking in my little paddock boots that I was going to have to ride this pony that was so “mean and grumpy” in my young eyes.
Riding Jericho was not the awful scary experience that I had expected it would be. Turns out she was a great lesson pony, she wasn’t super lazy or super speedy. Her trot was easy to post and her canter was smooth. I didn’t understand at the time how a pony that seemed so hateful could be a good ride.
I pondered it at the time but didn’t think too long because they still didn’t put me on Jericho very often.
Now, All These Years Later I Finally “Get It”
Now that I have been teaching lessons for about 20 years, I totally understand why Jericho acted the way she did.
When you are an enthusiastic kid, it doesn’t cross your mind that the horse or pony isn’t as excited about going for a ride as you are.
Lesson horses have to deal with heavy hands, mixed signals, and multiple riders in one day. You never know you might get off that horse and someone will pull it out and tack it up to ride again an hour later.
Mentally Not Physically Taxing
Being a lesson mount for beginners is not physically super hard on horses. Mentally though, it is boring and mundane. Doing the same things over and over. While trying to interpret what to do by a rider who is giving mixed signals.
Lesson horses, like Jericho for example, can become bored with life and seem to want to be detached from people. This is how Jericho behaved and now I totally understand.
Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
With Jericho what you saw was not exactly what you got! She was a fun pony once she got on and she did her job well. Over the years it has been being around horses like Jericho that I have learned to decipher different horses’ personalities. Just because a horse seems a certain way doesn’t mean it is. Maybe it is exactly what you think but it has a valid reason for behaving that way. Maybe it’s boring like Jericho was. Or it could be fearful because it had a bad experience, there is always some underlying clues of how and why a horse acts the way it does.
Give A Horse A Chance Before You Make Up Your Opinion On It
I saw the way that Jericho acted and only rode her because I didn’ have a choice. If it would have been up to me I wouldn’t have and I would have missed out on a chance to ride a cool lesson pony.
Professional Lesson Horse
Lady Jericho is what I now call my horses, “a professional lesson horse”. She was good at her job, didn’t mind telling you when she was unhappy with it but was tolerant and safe. Horses like these are hard to come by!
How Could I Forget This Important Lesson
Thanks to Lady Jericho, I learned how to effectively tack up a horse that was snapping its teeth at me without getting bit! That is definitely a horsemanship skill that everyone will probably need at one time or another.
Memories Made With Lesson Horses Have Stuck To Me Like Glue
All these memories of Lady Jericho are from years and years ago. She was part of the beginner riding program I started off in. At the time I was young, probably 7 or something.
I have since ridden many other horses… fancier ones, prettier ones, crazy ones… I can honestly say that the earliest memories that we make with horses stick with us for a lifetime. Horses that teach us the earliest lessons are the ones that get us hooked on horses for life.
I can look back on the many lesson horses I rode over the years and now I can tell you a valuable lesson that I learned from each of them at a young age.
I Never Forget A Horse
Every day I spend most of my day thinking about horses. Different horses will come to mind at different times, for different reasons. Today it was Lady Jericho that popped into my head when I sat down at the laptop.
I believe she was an older teenager when I was a kid riding her. Lady Jericho has most likely gone on to greener pastures by now. She definitely earned her place in horsey heaven!