I had a few opportunities to ride, and I seemed to be pretty good at it. Horsemanship merit badge and a few trail rides--I'm no cowboy, but I can clean hooves, bridle and saddle a horse well enough.
I remember one of the horses I rode during the merit badge class was a real...well, she didn't like people much. Her favorite thing to do was to see whether she could scrape that big two-legged fly off her back by walking under tree branches.
I had watched two other scouts get scraped off her back, or almost all the way off, in previous days. Today, by luck of the draw, she was my horse.
I knew she wasn't any more excited about me riding her than she was about any of the other scouts. I talked to her for a while. Scratched behind her ears, let her hear my voice and get to know me a bit. Cleaned her hooves, checked for shoe problems, brushed her down and saddled her up.
Sure enough, first thing she wanted to do was go find a tree. She wasn't listening to my commands, didn't respond to heel/toe signals, didn't want to do much of anything but get to that tree.
My voice was sharp, loud, and punctuated by a heel and a firm grip on the reins. Still, she kept walking toward that tree. I was determined not to let her win--and of course, the whole rest of the class was expecting her to do just that. As we got closer to the tree, I started to think maybe I had bit off more than I could chew, this horse was stubborn as a mule!
I started reigning in to the left. More, and more--watching her head come around. She's still walking forward, but she's looking sideways. Further around, and eventually I'm looking this horse in the eye, leaning down real close to her face--and she stops. I hold for a few quiet seconds, and give her the back command, punctated by a polite heel gesture. She looks a little irritated, but...she backs up. I let up on the reins, and she starts responding to my commands--stop, turn left, and walk.
She didn't try to scrape me off her back again, and became one of my favorite horses to ride during camp. I guess she just needed me to look her straight in the eye before she finally acknowledged who was the boss.
This seems like a group that would have some good horse stories (or bad horse stories), and I'm sure I'm one of the less experienced horse riders here. Let's hear your stories, tell us about your horses and your horse experiences!