Four months later, I’m no less enchanted with Jetta than when my daughter and I first brought her home. I am, however, much wiser. Jetta is sweet. Jetta is smooth. And Jetta is very, very fast. I learned quickly that she runs faster than I think!
Our first run together was just that. A run. We did not make a barrel pattern although I had certainly paid my entry fee! She took the bit from me in the alleyway and put a whole new meaning to ‘blew my hair back’. We didn’t make the turn at the first barrel, much less the second or third. I finally got her slowed and stopped somewhere at the back of the arena.
Because I ride with super light hands, at our next run I stepped her up to a bit with a little more stopping power. Unfortunately, not enough. Once again, we bypassed all three barrels and made a nice sweeping run around the arena.
I don’t like being embarrassed. Never have. But I’m too honest a rider to blame a horse for my failings. I’ve never been one to step easily onto a horse and ‘just go’. My daughter does that effortlessly, but I need time to build what I call ‘muscle memory’ so that I’m acting and reacting naturally in sync with my horse.
I’m also very, very determined. Okay … stubborn. I don’t give up easily. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve learned to deal with both aspects. But when you know you’ve got a horse that’s better than anything you’ve owned in a long time, you don’t quit. Jetta is the caliber horse that I hope you will take the time to meet in the rodeo world of Turning for Trouble which will be released next week. I’m truly excited about this story, excited for you to glimpse the world of barrel racing that is so much a part of my life.
With the help of a friend who is also an excellent horsewoman, and much like the women I portray in Turning for Trouble, I found a bit that would keep my little runaway to a manageable speed until we could learn to work together. We’ve had two nice runs since then. Sedate, almost. Not competitive at all. The bit is too much, even with my light hands, but it has served its purpose. Jetta respects that I have control and I have gained back a bit of confidence (not to mention self-respect!) So, I’m back to searching and researching for the perfect bit.
Will it be the last one I use on Jetta? I doubt it. I suspect we’ll transition to lighter and lighter until she is running free and I am signaling how and when and what in concert with my fast, little mare. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.
In the meantime, I am enjoying every minute with this sweet girl and I’m grateful for every opportunity to be out of the house and at the barn. Life is good and I am blessed.
Although Susan Y. Tanner is best known for her historical romance novels, she is finding her niche in a new genre – contemporary romantic mystery. In Trouble in Summer Valley, her first book in the Familiar Legacy series, she introduced readers to the rescue horses of Summer Valley Ranch. In Turning for Trouble, she combines her passion for barrel racing with her passion for rescue horses in a rodeo setting. Tanner continues to barrel race and write with equal enthusiasm.