It's funny, just as I decided I wasn't going to get a horse, a couple good leads came along. We'll see how that goes...
Today I rode a strange horse. She herself is not strange, she's just strange to me. She's a very nice girl, a grey anglo-arab named Madrid, who belongs to the trainer we've been taking lessons with. It was good to have a horse to ride, and eye-opening to ride a horse that doesn't know how I work. As I didn't always know how she worked. She backs to different cues, for one thing. It led to some talk about how we ride, and the importance of knowing WHY we ride how we ride. My answer would just be, "because that's how I do it." Which isn't a very good answer, when you want to analyze what makes the most sense and is most effective.
Then, quite excitingly, someone started firing a gun in the outside arena. Apparently it was mounted shooting practice. Only nobody warned us and certainly our horses weren't expecting it. The first group of shots caught us standing still and nothing super exciting happened. A while later the second group of shots caught Scout as he was feeling rather "up" anyway, and was trotting around the arena and had just turned his back to the source of the noise. He went "leap" and John didn't go with. Or something like that. I didn't see it because I was busy shutting down my mount, who was right next to the source of the noise. Despite the unplanned dismount John and Scout were both fine, just a little rattled. My sister went out and kindly asked them to hold off on the shooting for 15 minutes so we could finish up without any more excitement. Everyone mounted up again and we finished on a good, relaxed note.
Tomorrow morning I'm going to go ride Cimarron, a nice kiger cross who also belongs to the trainer. He's kind of just an extra horse, not her personal horse, so I can borrow him more long term. He doesn't get ridden much but he's supposed to be a pretty nice horse.
Oh, and as to why I didn't ride Festus, my brother in law's horse - he needs some work before I'd trust him in a strange setting with a group of strange horses. Not much stop. Some brace, but it's not terrible. I just would definitely want the stop more reliable. If I could go over every day and ride him it would probably be fine, but that doesn't seem very doable right now.
So anyway, I'm having some horsey adventures riding horses that aren't mine, and it's very fun and interesting. But it also makes me appreciate the communication I have with my own horses even more. It's just a difference of dialects, but even that can cause some long pauses and miscommunications in the middle of a good conversation.