My sister will scold me if I do not write about another mare, not famous in the big shows, perhaps, but withers and ears above most horses – and people.
Betsy, Sky’s Calico, was a lesson horse at Roger Young Stable when I met her. She was a smallish paint mare with a stride that, at its lengthiest, could be described as ‘mincing.’ She was the go-to horse to teach the posting trot, because her soft shuffle would ease the inexperienced rider out of the saddle, while her good-natured movement would shift the rider back into the saddle. “Up, down. UP, down.”
It was precisely Betsy’s good nature that set her apart. She was the teacher who took time with every student and made every student feel proud of every lesson learned, but instead of a sticker on the top of your worksheet, Betsy gave approving nuzzles and wise nods.
Betsy did not care about trends, popularity, or showiness. She was a practical mare. Up early, working hard, accepting grateful offerings of carrots and treats with grace. Her humility was part of her earnest beauty.
Betsy’s unique and rocking canter was another trait that made her ideal for teaching. Many beginning riders have an unspoken fear of shifting gear to a higher speed. Betsy reassured them with her gentle canter, truly like a rocking chair.
If my mare Summer Hill could sneak in two extra strides between fences, Betsy could add four, add four and look charming and sweet while doing it. Betsy’s canter was almost a feat equal to the famed Lipizzaner stallions; I swear sometimes her stride would get so small that she was actually cantering in place. Try that Alois Podhajsky!