It came to pass in a south Texas village, that a giant horse that had been ailing for some time was finally decreed ready to be ridden again. As the day progressed toward his first ride in months, his rider, Lauren prepared his tack. She spent some time putting back together a bridle for him. She kept the simple full-cheek snaffle bit that he had gone in before his surgery, although deep in heart she would have liked to have had something stronger in his mouth, just in case he started running and never stopped.
But Dev had warned her against the harsher bit. He reminded her that a race horse likes and is taught to pull against the bit. If she had trouble slowing the big horse down, the harsher bit was more likely to push him forward than make him stop. If he took off with her, Dev’s suggestion was to circle him tight and hard. With nowhere to go, he would stop. Lauren had idly suggested running him into a fence but Dev responded, “this big guy is not afraid to jump anything in front of him. Then you will be out in the open field with miles to run and no chance of stopping”.
Lauren spent the day getting out her beautiful OTTB saddle pad that she had gotten for Christmas but had never been on Bruno’s back. Likewise, due to saddle mal-functions, this was a new saddle to Bruno as well. In spite of the high hopes and long desired opportunity to ride big Boo (as she called him), Lauren was a little hesitant and concerned as well.
Lauren really liked ponies-they were small. She excelled with Mickey and Feather, neither of which topped 16 hands. She had never been extremely comfortable or experienced on the big horses. She just had not had enough rides. The distance from Bruno’s back to the ground was over five feet. Everyone in her family except her had visited the hospital these last months for surgery or broken bones. Made a girl a little apprehensive.
Lauren had joked (sort of) with her friends about wrapping herself in bubble wrap for the return ride on Bruno. At the very least she had talked of borrowing an eventing safety vest to strap on prior to her ride, but she had never gotten one to the farm.
She would not ride until I got home. We joked that way someone was available to call Life Flight in the case of an emergency. Throughout the day, Lauren groomed and readied Bruno for his evening ride.
We got Bruno in November. Lauren hauled Mickey up to Zone Finals. She unloaded Mickey and we loaded Bruno (who we had taken sight unseen) and I hauled him home. We had been trying to stage a comeback on Mickey, to place in the finals but it had proved a disappointing and discouraging show. Mickey was done, for all intents and purposes. Lauren had Feather coming along and new Bruno to ride but Feather was still untested and we had never ridden Bruno at all.
Last night when I wasn’t sleeping I was searching back through my posts to recall the time when Bruno first came to the farm. Here is the link to post on the weekend we brought Mickey home from the show grounds, defeated and sad.
Bruno arrived at the farm not having been worked in a few weeks due to his hoof problems. I think Lauren faced the apprehension that night as well when she rode him for the first time. And what did we do? We put five year-old Jordyn up on Bruno and he was gentle and kind.
Tonight, in the end, when it was ‘riders up’ Bruno scampered across the arena. He was excited but listening to Lauren’s quiet hands and seat. Mr. Kid had followed him to the arena and I questioned if it was a good idea for him to be walking freely around. “If Bruno takes off, Kid is going to run with him”, I said. “He is not going to run”, Lauren said confidently. And he did not. He was looking, he was mouthing the bit, he was skitterish but he was fine.
One hundred and sixty-two days after surgery, Lauren was up on Bruno’s broad back. It will be some time before the ride goes smoothly but we have plenty of time. We are thrilled to have the big guy back to work.