Amateur Hour

The Horse I Didn’t Know I Needed

“Our seemingly insignificant successes are triumphs in my eyes.”

Courtesy of Robin Bledsoe

When I first laid eyes on my gelding Laeser (that’s pronounced lay-ser, not la-seer or lee-ay-czar—I’m looking at you show announcers…) I was stunned by his handsomeness and privileged to see his athletic scope put to the test as he jumped upwards of 3’9. When I tried him I could immediately feel his power. He was uphill and honest enough that he was able to take my timid self over my first 3’6 oxer.

A week later we brought him home. I dreamed of blue ribbons, big fences and success.

The first week at his new home he was practically a movie star. My friends and fellow riders were as smitten with his looks as I was. As a Georgian Grande, Laeser (affectionately known as “Lilo” to me) is a sight to behold. Under saddle, well, that’s a different story.

His head carriage was too high to even think about doing anything in the hunter arena, where I had spent the last three years of my riding career with my seasoned QH. Laeser was only six at the time, and had been under saddle just a year, and gelded soon after. He was a tall, gangly diva who spooked at everything that moved and bolted at everything else. We competed at 2’ in our first year together and won Reserve Champion for the 2015 IEHJA Long Stirrup Division. Good, but not what I had expected.

Courtesy of Robin Bledsoe
Courtesy of Robin Bledsoe

Despite the nay-sayers and challenges, I absolutely adored this horse. We bonded in a way I never did with my QH. Laeser was my entire life and although he frequently frustrated me, I learned patience, perseverance, and how to love someone in spite of their faults. His greenness became an adventure rather than a hindrance.

Laeser and I took a step back from jumping when I began to notice he lacked the hind end engagement that would keep him soundly jumping for years. I was terrified he would hurt himself. So, much to his dismay, we took to the ground and focused more on dressage techniques and training methods. We both discovered a passion for dressage, where our brains could connect and solve problems together. Through experienced clinicians and a wonderful trainer, Laeser learned to use his hind end consistently and his previously short stride lengthened into something elegant and beautiful.

Courtesy of Robin Bledsoe
Courtesy of Robin Bledsoe

His greenness became an adventure rather than a hindrance.

Our short time together has certainly not been all smooth sailing. However, riding and training a greenie is not about smooth sailing; it’s about celebrating the tiny accomplishments when they come. In my life, this means two or three strides of straightness before my horse becomes a Ramen noodle again and wiggles his way to the center of the arena. It means appreciating the little things in life and finding pure joy in watching your horse grow. By no means are we achieving perfection. We had to take everything back to square one; the bare necessities to fill gaps in his training, and we are loving it.

Courtesy of Robin Bledsoe
Courtesy of Robin Bledsoe

What I have learned most is finding joy in the journey, as cliché as it sounds. Lilo and I are not ready for the show arena, and we will not be for some time. However, my focus has changed from filling up my ribbon wall to actually producing a trained horse and bringing out the best of his ability. Had I opted for the perfect, point-and-shoot horse I thought I wanted, I likely would never have found the deep sense of fulfillment working with Lilo offers. Our seemingly insignificant successes are triumphs in my eyes. I find something new to work on and be proud of with every ride.

We will continue to grow, as a team and on our own. The humility I’ve learned will change how I approach riding for the rest of my life. I did not get what I thought I wanted, but in this gangly, giraffe-necked goofball I found a home and a lifetime partner.

 


About the Author

Robin Bledsoe is a young amateur rider who spends her time in Southern California reading, writing and riding. She enjoys jumping and dressage at county levels.

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