Lola was purchased locally by a friend of our daughter, who wanted to keep her own horse on livery at ours. Unfortunately after a few months, things were not working out and we took the decision to buy Lola off of her family, rather than see her leave the friends she had bonded with here.
Lola is a beautiful bay mare with a luscious silky black mane. In the first few years she was with us she was a great horse, we soon got her ride able and trustworthy enough to use for guests, in fact she developed the nick name ‘Slola’ as she has such a slow, relaxed walk. She was a great addition to the herd, good for nervous riders, but if I ever needed to use her myself as a lead horse she could be encouraged to walk faster, and she had a fantastic, fast canter, so was an all round useful horse.
Unfortunately, in 2007 we had a riding booking for a teenage girl who wanted to go out on a hack. She was a beginner and I had decided to put her on our totally bombproof horse Hercules and ride myself on Lucy, but at the last minute, the girls mum phoned and asked to ride too. She told me she was an experienced rider, so I was not too worried and decided not to change my plans, I would still ride Lucy and take Hercules for the daughter and the mum could ride Lola, no problem. That was until they arrived and I saw the size of the mum. I had stupidly forgotten to ask for weights when they booked, something I always try to do, and I was left with the embarrassing problem of either trying to assess the weight myself or come straight out and ask. I sized the woman up, she wasn’t very tall, but very round, and decided that she would not be any heavier than the heaviest male rider Lola could take, and that, along with the fact that the woman was supposed to be a good rider, and would therefore ride lighter, plus the fact that it was only an hour beginners ride, and we would just be walking, made the decision. While we were getting ready the woman kept telling me tall stories about her riding abilities, and how she had sat on rearing horses etc, her skills were increasing by the minute! We set off, but after just a couple of minutes, to my horror, Lola started rearing up. She had never reared before and I jumped off of Lucy to help. The woman would not get off and just kept saying it was fine, but I knew that there was a problem and finally got her to dismount. Poor Lola, she used to have an Australian stock saddle, which had a sort of metal d-ring at the back, in the middle, under the cantle and it seemed that the weight of woman had caused the ring to press into Lola’s spine, causing her to rear.
Needless to say, the woman did not ride and I just took her daughter as originally planned, but that one error of judgement on my part was the beginning of years of problems with poor Lola.
From that day, whenever she got to the place where she had reared, she started to rear and jump around, making it perfectly obvious that she remembered and was traumatised by the memory. We realised that she now had a saddle issue too, and tried changing the saddle to a simpler, lighter one (we got rid of the stock saddle as we found it too heavy).
Nothing seemed to help until I decided to try a treeless saddle. This made things much better, she no longer had a problem with the saddle, and if we could get her away from home, past the scene of the original incident, she was usually fine, but that in itself was a problem – I could not use her for clients as I couldn’t rely on the rider getting her away quick enough, and I could not ride her myself as the lead horse for the same reason – I had to take time, checking on the other riders etc, so it just didn’t work. This led to Lola never being ridden, especially in the winter months when I am often on my own with no one to ride with. Finally, after a lot of work, Lola is now happy to be ridden again, although she does have a slow walk (we call her Slola) but everyone who rides her really loves her.
You can read more about our horses and other animals in my book, available from Amazon for kindle or in paperback: