Or a navy blue one. And on his back he wore an old McClellan, thus:
And a Western bridle, with a low-port curb bit (I think his goal in life is to get his tongue over the bit, and this being thinner made it easier than the Pelham. He didn’t manage, but he sure tried.) The McClellan belongs to our neighbor back home who has two he used for pleasure riding. The design works well on high-withered horses (many of the Cavalry horses were Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred crosses–Sir Barton spent much of his retirement standing and being ridden at a Cavalry Remount Station.) It meant for some entertainment as I tried to tack up. It’s been a long times since I’ve dealt with latigos! The pad in the photo is one of the B.O.’s Australian pads, which was a good size for going underneath all the flaps and straps. The bridle on the other hand was pretty straightforward, and the leather curb strap instead of a chain and the absence of a cavesson didn’t seem to bother him. Lucky is not a huge fan of constant bit contact, and didn’t seem overly concerned by it, unless he was asked to back. Also, the bit being smaller than the Pelham, he was having much better luck trying to get his tongue over it. I may try the rubber mullen D with it, to see if that works better, but first, I’m pretty sure a D ring just looks wrong on a Western bridle, and second he does not seem to go well without some kind of curb action. (I’m 99.9% sure a Kimberwicke would be even MORE wrong.)
Lucky is on the vague side about neck reining, though he seems to have a dim grasp of it–I’m wondering if he was ridden under Western tack at some point as a pony horse or during the ‘off-season’ as there are definitely moments where he seems to get what the picture. And I have I ever mentioned how Thoroughbreds are fast learners? The barrels are still set up, but one of them (which would be the first barrel if you run the pattern right-left-left) is tipped over and had rolled to the edge of the sand. I was just going to take Lucky around the far barrel (more of a speed and action pattern) but when I turned him towards them, he immediately headed right towards where the first barrel should have been! So we went around an invisible barrel, and then did the other two normally. I won’t say Lucky is fast, though you would think a horse who had almost all of his success being a front runner at five furlongs would be a little quicker to get rolling, but he definitely gets that he’s supposed to pick up the pace, and he certainly shows more enthusiasm for barrels than he does for jumping!
I’m not sure the McClellan would be my first choice for regular riding–it’s certainly better for barrels than the Prix des Nations, but while they’re notoriously comfortable I think most of that testimony is coming from men, who are shaped differently in certain regions. It does at least make me sit back on my pockets, a hard habit to get into after riding forward-seat for so long. And it definitely does fit the high-withered horse better than the average Western saddle. Lucky isn’t shark-finned, but he’s also no Quarter Horse!
Lucky also had a chance to see something new. One of his barn buddies, Dom the pony, had a previous career as a harness-racing pony on the fair circuits, and the B.O. purchased a pony cart for him recently. Her friend was there to help hitch him up and take him for a test drive around the track. Of all the many things Lucky’s proven impassive about (golf carts, lawn mowers, tractors, kids wandering the woods) he hadn’t yet run into “horse hitched to something”, and I was fairly sure that isn’t anything he’d have encountered in his old career at the track. So I threw a lead on him and hand-walked him out to take a look. Here is his reaction:
Which was better than Takota’s. Apparently, seeing Dom hitched to something (and having a merry old time) was profoundly disturbing. He spent the entire time calling and running in circles, while the other horses, Lucky included, were more curious about why Takota was so upset than anything Dom was doing. Especially as Dom’s expression was along the lines of “WHEE!” He knows his job.
Don’t know if we’ll be racing them any time soon, though. Dom, at his fittest, can apparently trot the half in 1:05, which apparently is good (I would assume not with a solid cart, though) while Lucky should theoretically manage at least 50, but that is assuming, of course, Lucky feels like breaking out of a jog that day. Sometimes, he’s not averse to a gallop. Other days, even being out on the track isn’t much motivation.
Bet he could win in barrels, though.