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  • Writer's picturejshannon727

Old Dog, New Trick


When I remember my first riding lesson, the idiom: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” comes to mind. It was October 2016. I was north of middle age.

For my inaugural ride, a kindly friend had recommended her trainer, Georgia (not her real name). Georgia is that wonderful but rare species of people that is fabulous with both animals and humans. She sized me up quite literally. “I have a large pony that will be perfect for you,” she smiled.

In the barn, she introduced me to Joey. He assessed me with his clear, brown eyes. Perhaps, not interested in what he saw, he went back to his hay.

“He’s a senior horse. Mostly retired. But he’s very experienced,” Georgia said as she showed me how to groom Joey’s bay-colored coat and how to clean his hoofs. Meanwhile, Joey looked like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world.

Georgia then showed me how to adjust the pad and place the saddle below Joey’s withers. When I mounted at the block, Joey spun his head to look at me. It was obvious he preferred children of fifty pounds or less.

Georgia walked us on a lead line. Joey moved slow as molasses in January. After a while, Georgia removed the lead line. I squeezed my legs. Nothing happened. I squeezed again. Nothing. It occurred to me for at least the tenth time that I was too old to learn new tricks.

I kept squeezing and eventually we walked at a respectable pace. When the lesson was over, Georgia showed me how to dismount. “Well, what did you think?” She asked.

Like a bad boyfriend, Joey was handsome and aloof with a big ego. “I love him,” I confessed. I fished a peppermint out of my pocket and Joey gave me something like a smile.

Maybe, I thought, the old dog could teach an old dog new tricks.

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