Translator Needed

At the South Carolina show, I will be riding Lola, a ~16 h, chestnut, ASB mare. She is dainty, well-trained, and clear about what she wants. However, between her saddleseat accent and her mare accent, I don’t always understand what she is saying. Occasionally, I find myself inexplicably at the wrong gait or headed off in the wrong direction, i.e. toward the middle of the ring.

In contrast, Sam speaks saddleseat but with such a broad school-horse accent that I have no trouble understanding him. That doesn’t mean I can always ride him correctly. For example, he may be saying, ‘You messed up so I’m not cantering any longer, thank you very much.’

I have ridden amazing mares. When I showed Tory [BTDT: Hot Buttons] in the jumper ring, it was easy. We did it her way. In the event at which I rode Priney [photo], we did it my way until she realized that what we were doing was fun, then she took over. Negotiation was not necessary in either case.

Google has two versions of the popular saying:

You tell a gelding, you ask a mare, but you discuss it with a stallion.


Tell a gelding, ask a stallion, discuss it with a mare.

Either way – asking or discussing – requires a mental adjustment for a rider who has mainly spoken gelding. Any tips on reaching an understanding with a mare?
GPK Josephine 1
Josephine fell asleep with her tongue out. Click photo for larger version.

4 thoughts on “Translator Needed

  1. Twenty-six years ago I went horse shopping and the last thing I wanted was a mare, a grey or an Arabian. I got all three. When the Most Fantastic Horse In The World died, I went horse shopping again. Having ridden the Most Fantastic Mare In The World for twenty three years broadened my views a bit, so the only thing on my Do Not Get list had narrowed down to a mare. (Because even though she had been fantastic, she was still … ahem … a mare!) I came home with a sorrel Arabian mare. At this point my only advice would be: Pick your battles wisely!

    1. I have had two amazing mares, along with one who just didn’t work for me and one who was the mare-from-hell. But if the mare is good, she’s going to be awesome.

  2. Ask a mare, politely. There is no point in discussing anything with a mare, because you will do it her way regardless. If you ask politely, you are most likely to get the result you want. Treat her like a lady.

  3. Wish I could help. With Priney, it was a matter of, we do it my way till she understands what we want, then she’d cut loose and enjoy the ride. Catch, a gelding, was pure hell-spawn and did what he wanted no matter what you did. I knew Chief, my sweet stallion of a dream (well, he was gelded at age 14), for 3 years before i bought him. He didn’t get Priney pregnant, it was his fault, so i got him for a song. I had already lavished so much love on him – baby talk, knowing the places he iiked to be scritched – he had his moments, but mostly it was asking him in a way he could understand. Even when taking riding lessons before moving to ye olde dump, i got along better with mares than geldings. I asked, they did, no problem.
    Never hurts to ask.

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