It can be interesting riding two horses who are polar opposites.
Gabe is big, long-legged and graceful, but he's slow and tends to be a bit on the lazy side. He'd rather amble along than put forth any more effort than is absolutely required and there are rides when I have to push, push, push until I'm ready to fall off from exhaustion.
Calypso is short, compact and built like a bulldozer. But she's a much more forward mover and is willing to go go go until she falls over from exhaustion.
Calypso is in some ways a more difficult ride than Gabe. Not because she's a bad mare, but because I spend a good portion of the ride reminding her to SLOW DOWN and fighting with her desire to go faster, faster, faster. She has head-in-the-air-itis and gets quick, rushy and on her forehand fast. It doesn't help that she's already built with an upright shoulder, upright pasterns and is naturally built downhill. I totally understand why she gets rushy and why she tends to travel with her nose brushing the sky but I don't like it. Not one bit. It makes for a horrible ride and is not any good at all on her back and joints.
If I can get that issue solved with her she'll be pretty darn near ideal for anyone who wants to ride her.
It's an on and off thing with her, too. Some days she drops her neck and goes slow without much reminding. Those are the best rides on her and fortunately they are becoming much more frequent than they once were. Making progress, slowly but surely.
Last night's ride, not such a great ride. Head in the air, rush rush rush, quick mincing little steps, a jackhammer bareback ride in which I spent the entire time asking her to JUST SLOW DOWN DAMMIT. Yay. I'm SORE this morning.
It's during those rides that she responds when she feels like it and will just as soon keep blowing through the aids than listen to them. I can give her a series of half halts and she may respond to one of them. Her halt is good. Sit on your pockets, hold your abs tight, stop all body movement and quit following with your hands. It's even better if you combine the aids with a low "whoa." And, she stops.
But I can't get her to connect the halt aids to half halts and SLOW THE FREAK DOWN requests. She'll give five or six good, easy strides, then is back to head in the air rushing.
There are days when I'm sorely tempted to put a curb or a Kimberwicke on her just to get her attention, then go back to the D-ring snaffle she's in now. I don't know what to do. I'm not at all a big proponent of bitting harsher just because you can't properly train a horse to slow the heck down. I'm a firm believer that all good, well-trained horses should be able to go well in a snaffle...curbs are for fine-tuning and advanced movements, not for making better brakes. But there are days when I completely understand why rushy, fast horses are put into harsher and harsher bits and I really question why I haven't with her.
I think I'm going to put her in the side-reins and spend some time longeing her in them to try to help her figure it out without having to worry about a rider up there. We'll see what happens.