Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Horses that made me: Sparky

I just realized it has been a year (a year!) since I wrote my first "Horses that made me" post! I had great intentions of continuing on a regular basis, then I got busy having fun with Charlie and completely forgot about it. Where does the time go? Anyway, here's to a *renewed* resolution to continue this post. Today, meet Sparky:

Sparky was aptly named, as he was certainly a little sparkplug. Everyone loved Sparky, it was hard not to, and he was probably the horse (er, pony) who really instilled in me the foundation of my riding.

Like many ponies, Sparky was notorious for deciding when a lesson was over, head going one way, body traveling another as he proceeded to trot right out the in-gate. But as a result he taught me that horses aren't just push-button beasts. You have to steer them, with legs and not just hands, and stay focused on what you're doing. In other words, I learned that I wasn't just along for the ride and that if I stopped thinking, he would start, and then we'd be in trouble.

When jumping, Sparky taught me the proper way of counting strides and finding a distance. This pony could find any distance with his eyes closed, and never missed a jump. He was so consistent, and through his tutelage I learned how to feel how much ground we were covering and visualize my strides to the base of a jump.

Sparky took me on my first real trail ride, where I learned that a crupper is an essential piece of tack on a round-as-a-hay-bale pony going down a 45 degree hill. That was the start of many more trail rides in my future.

He also took me to my first rated show at Ludwig's Corner, which is where all of these pictures came from. I had never been in a warm up ring with half that many people before (so much chaos!), and when I warmed up by jumping an oxer backwards (aren't the flowers usually on the other side...? whoops!), Sparky took care of me. All in all we more than survived that day, earning a reserve place ribbon in the end.

One of my favorite things about Sparky, though, and what I will always remember, was that he absolutely loved Skittles. Particularly the tropical fruit kind. He could be half a mile away and you'd shake a bag of Skittles, and he'd come galloping right up to the fence. I sure did love that pony :)