Amanda Cousins checks back in with JN about her first few rides on her 2019 RRP Thoroughbred Makeover mount Artie. To read Amanda’s previous blogs, check out the Riches to Ribbons series exclusively on Jumper Nation.
I’m sure by now you’re wondering, does this woman ever get around to actually riding her horse? Why yes, yes I do, and Artie did NOT disappoint.
Our first couple of rides were simple and straight forward. It was a lot like those first couple of awkward dates you have with a new guy. You try hard not to rock the boat and offend them. You’re still getting to know one another and learning each other’s likes and dislikes, as well as how well you mesh together.
Unlike with dating, I didn’t have to ask Artie if he liked long walks on the beach and football. For my equine ice breakers, I asked, do you whoa? Check. “Do you understand the leg? Check. Do you pick up both leads? Check. Do you steer? Check.
You’ll read from a lot of sources about all the things racehorses know coming off the track. The reality is, that like most disciplines, not all trainers and their training is created equal. So while I find most OTTB’s to be worldly in what they’ve been exposed to, I do not think they all steer great or understand both leads clearly, or have a concept of traveling in a straight line. Fortunately for me, Artie seems to have come from an exceptional program that made a correct education a priority. #winning
Once our first few “dates” were over with, we got down to the nitty-gritty. The first thing we needed to work through was going forward, and truly going forward. Horses actually have two engines; the pulling engine, which is the shoulder, and the pushing engine, which is the hind end. The goal is to teach him to use his pushing engine, which will eventually create a nice stretch through his topline. Once you truly achieve forward, then you can talk about moving into the bridle and accepting contact.
Photo by Clare Mansmann
At this stage in the game, a lot of horses can feel like you’re sitting on a blind Mexican jumping bean. As a native South Jersey-an, I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect wave. Not on a surfboard, but on my trusty faded purple boogie board. The perfect wave is one that you get on and seamlessly glide all the way to the sand with the biggest smile on your face. You encounter this wave maybe twice a summer max, but you’re always searching for it. That is what Artie’s canter feels like. I can’t help but smile, it feels effortless and your seat bones aren’t remotely inclined to start hopping around in the saddle. It’s marvelous, and probably one of the best canters I’ve had the pleasure to ride. I’ve had my share ofjack hammer canters recently, so I feel this is overdue. #sorrynotsorry
Photo by Clare Mansmann
Our relationship had grown, and I felt it was time to ask Artie if he was an adrenaline junky, er brave (I have to remember I’m not talking about my marriage). I may have a pipe dream of diving off a steel pier into a pool of water during the Freestyle at the Makeover (once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl). I’m pleased to report that my pipe dream may not be SO insane with Artie because the boy LOVES to jump. In fact, he’s so dang brave the struggle has been building things that are visually stimulating enough that he slows his bum and feet down and jumps from his hind end instead of over his shoulder.
Photo by Crystal Sorrenti
I’m an outdoorsy type of girl, so I also needed to see how Artie felt about dates outside of the ring. By now, you can probably already guess that once again, Artie was unfazed. He likes hacks with just the two of us and also enjoys group dates(hacks), as well as jumping all of the things we can possibly find while out and about.
Future foxhunter? Photo by Crystal Sorrenti
Artie is a true gentleman, and it was finally to start taking our “act” on the road. Stay tuned to hear about Artie’s #fieldtripfridays and first horse show.