At the beginning of every ride, Lacey asks me the same questions. She asks, “Are you sure we have to ride today? Don’t you want to just groom me some more instead?” Then she asks, “Will you let me be a dull pony today? Because I don’t really feel like putting in a ton of effort.” It takes me about 5 minutes of warm-up and bending each time I get on her to convince her that my answers to her questions will always be, “Yes, I’m sure we have to ride today,” and, “No, you don’t get to be a dull pony.” Once we get through that initial conversation, rides on Lacey are really fun and rewarding. We’ve been working on improving her response times to my aids. She’s showing improvement there. We’ve also been working on lateral movements with improvement there, too. One thing’s for sure with Lacey, though: she is not a push-button horse (at least not yet). You have to really be present during the entire ride in order to communicate well with her. In my opinion, I think Lacey expects that if she’s going to put forth effort, her rider had better put forth effort, too. But if you’re willing to put in that effort, she’s one heck of a fun little horse.
Lacey has nice gaits. She has a smooth little western pleasure jog but also a nice forward trot when you ask for one. Her lope also has a forward and a relaxed setting. She’s very responsive to her rider’s seat aids, and it’s easy to bring her down from forward to relaxed with just the change in your own energy. She will also stop and back up off of just seat aids, although right now the back is sluggish without any reins.
I end up having a soft spot for all of the SAFE horses that I get to ride and I’d take any of them home if I could, but if I was truly in a position to be looking for a riding partner of my own, I’d consider adopting little Lacey. She’s not really “my type,” but she’s proving to me that size doesn’t really matter—it’s what’s inside that counts.