Soft Ground and High Jinks

Prazer is not naturally a naughty horse. He is as good as gold when giving lessons - one to one with a fairly competent student in the arena on a calm day - but when Mum rides him in something approaching a gale (common in these parts) and out in the woods and fields …. well that can be a different story.

Frankly, I am very very lucky to have such a comfy, well balanced horse. When he gets aerated, he grows about 2 hands, but that’s simply the stallion in him. What I love about Lusitanos is their backs; even in the midst of a sideways leap or buck, they are incredibly soft and springy. This means that all the energy is ‘contained’ – like a big puffed up pillow - rather than unleashed - like a rocket, so while you have to keep your balance, there is never the feeling that the horse is going to get rid of you or indeed go against your hand.

Now aged 18, Prazer is in many ways the strongest he’s ever been. He does have stifle problems (the result of an accident in his early years and something that I knew about when I took him on – how many people are mad enough to buy a horse that fails the vet?… me for one!) but the muscling over his topline is firm and strong and he is incredibly elastic. This gives the rider the feel of being joined together as one when you ride, and when the ground is soft – we’ve had a lot of rain lately - it also gives him the confidence to indulge himself, when out on a hack. Today, amidst sunshine and showers we came upon a huge buzzard as we cantered down a grassy track that runs the length of what was, until recently, a field of rape. The great bird was intent on something small and bloody that lay in the long grass, but he was slow to take off – probably weighed down by his meal – and the airs above the ground that ensued under my seat were not inconsiderable. Nevertheless, I sat them – praying a stirrup leather would not bust – as I do depend on taking my weight forward during some of these antics – and the bird flew laconically into the distance. We continued on our merry way, but now my horse had a taste for it… another canter, another leap, a full pirouette at one point because he thought he spotted something over the hedge, and finally – now in passage - we made it to our destination.

As we left the area and Prazer was still jogging happily, determined that walking home was too boring on such a day and with such exciting things going on in the countryside, I felt a great joy in my heart. What can beat a charged up, collected, joyful horse, a gorgeous day, the air full of birdsong, a breeze in the trees and the sound of the great River Tweed flowing down the valley? Those of us who live out of the city and can still ride over great swathes of our stunning British countryside, are blessed indeed. Thank you God, thank you Prazer - long may you enjoy yourself! SL


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