I called up Dona right after I got a good chance to try out Lady, freshly back from the stallion's pen. It was not encouraging for me. She didn't know any leg cues, and was very reluctant to turn to the left. Or the right. I didn't realize it earlier, since we had never gone out alone. It was always Lady & Me with Molly & Jenny. WOW. She was hardly green. A hardly green 5 year old. YIKES!
Dona had an opening in her training schedule, and came and got her - she was gone for a month, but I saw her nearly every day, travelling to her house just so I could groom her.
I was told she gave Dona's friend/colleauge Jim a real ride, and tossed him once or twice pretty good. He told me later he's used to horses that have one 'trick', turns out Lady had several. lol. Not to mention - she wasn't really 5 as we had thought. Jim put her at 7.
After nearly a month, Dona told me I could come and start taking lessons with my horse. She had gotten to a point that she could be worked. I couldn't wait. I loaded up my monster roper and headed out. When they were showing me how far she'd come, she couldn't take her eyes off me. She nickered to me while they were trying to talk to me, and even joked about how she wanted to see her mama. She stood stock still for me to mount, and rode so nicely, it was unbelieveable. I loved it. But, they weren't done with her yet. She had to stay a little longer as Dona had confided to my mom that she was nervous about Lady still. That should have been a clue for me. But I was still smitten, and just wanted to ride my Lady love. We rode at Dona's for 2 weeks before I took her home, with Dona telling me there really isn't much that can be done for her training wise clue number 2.
We did fine, we rode nearly every day, as instructed. And the emergency stop that Dona had taught me came into use at least once nearly every time we rode. Get a hint, sweetie.... something is wrong here!
The following June, she foaled a gorgeous palomino filly. Experienced horse breeders told me not to bother trying to catch her having the baby. It's too hard to catch. But, catch it I did - kind of. I came out, and Lady was down in the foaling stall, all I could see in the darkness was her form, and a slightly lighter form ... with a big blaze wobbling away, back legs still in mom, but trying to stand all the same. Welcome, Trixie.
As soon as it was safe to do so, Lady and I rode together, foal at her side. We didn't trail again until Trixie was weaned, but we still rode. All was good in the world - well, all except for her mad fits now and again. She still spooked for little to no reason, and there were several times that I know she did so just to see if she could get me off. All in all, I've only fallen off of Lady 2 or 3 times. But the frequency of her trying was getting much higher.
But, I should back track a little bit. There is big piece of our story I passed by.
While Lady was being bred for Trixie, I took some more lessons from Dona and I fell in love again - this time gradually - with a big black bay mare named Velvet. She was one of Dona's and I rode her for my lessons while Lady was out. She wasn't much to look at - that is to say, she is NOT flashy at all. She was BIG, and kind, and has the prettiest head ever on earth. Big feminine features and the best part - boy, did she ever ride nice. She didn't spook, when I asked for something she DID IT, or at least tried to figure out what I wanted. We learned to jump together. lol. When I found out she was for sale my heart leapt. But I couldn't afford her. A friend helped me get her, and I paid her back by helping her learn to ride, and handle a horse. I learned what a good horse felt like in Velvet, and I needed her for easy rides, for continuing my lessons and for days that I couldn't handle the stress that is Lady. Dona was glad to see Velvet go with me, she had said. I think she knew, even then that Lady and I were not a perfect match, as I thought we were. Besides, I needed a horse to ride while Lady was heavy with foal. It was great. I had two incredible horses, one a firey red head, the other a laid back unassuming brunette - much like myself. Then when Trixie came, I had a palomino to round out the group. Perfect. The more I rode Velvet, the more I wanted to ride Velvet. The more I rode Lady, the more I wanted to make her like Velvet. That would never happen.
But I would try and try and try.
While Lady was nursing, Velvet and I went for a trail ride with Dona and Jim. Jim let slip that the stud that fathered Trixie was to be gelded. They planted the seed in my imagination of an incredible colt from him and Velvet. The prospect was more than I could resist. My incredible, super sweet, sane, calm talented girl with that same sane sweet, talented drop dead gorgeous stud! Velvet went to meet Spirit. But I had second thoughts, and picked her up inside of a week's time. It was too late. Sweet, sophisticated Velvet went and got all trampy when no one was looking. She showed heat all through her pregnancy, though I did figure out she was pregnant right around Thanksgiving while I was weaning Trixie. Velvet foaled a lighter version of herself - a buckskin filly - whom I named after my friend.... Welcome Little Dona.
That summer, while Velvet was nursing Little Dona, I rode Lady mercilessly. She was now doing trails - though never ever alone. She went through water knee deep, climbed hills, past by deer, and turkeys, cars, and dirtbikes. We were doing good. Although, if I remember correctly, she could NOT lead at all on the trail, and hated to be last. She had to be in the middle, and it took at least a mile for her to drop her head enough that I could look straight forward without her head blocking part of my view, and she would spook at a lot.
Her spooks were incredible. The split second before she spooked, every single muscle, tendon, and hair on her body would tense. Then the whole horizon would rise up about 3 feet as she dropped. As soon as she'd dropped, she would jump sideways about 6 feet. If I didn't have her head pulled around by the time her feet hit the ground from the sideways jump, she would bolt, then buck - with her signature twist. I didn't let it get that far most of the time. When I had things under control, she would drop, jump sideways, and as her feet hit, I had her head around, and was making her move her butt - we spun like a top. If she wanted me off, or the spook was just a test (often it was) as soon as she stopped, she'd do it again. Sometimes this went on 4 or 5 times before we could take a step forward.
This was our routine. And, I was alright with it.