Riders Up! Oh, You Mean Me?

Bubba and Melanie share a first ride at Bits & Bytes Farm

Bubba and Melanie share a first ride at Bits & Bytes Farm












I am so pleased with Bubba and our first ride together. He is such a willing and sensible horse. Our first ride together couldn’t have been any better.

Elizabeth lent us tack, which needed a bit of adjusting for Bubba who is lean from racing. She rode him first, a few circles around the ring. Then it was my turn. We rode a few minutes on a lunge line to build my confidence (Bubba’s was fine). Then we walked around the ring until a storm blew up.

I was pretty nervous about my first ride. So many people had advised against buying an OTTB, many said they’re too hot, too fast, and too crazy. I would grade my riding expertise at a beginner level, so my heart was beating fast when I mounted Bubba that first time.

But Elizabeth was at our side providing basic riding tips: stay out of his mouth because on the track a heavy hold on the bit is telling him to “go like hell”; and he’s used to running wide turns counter clockwise so going the other direction might at first feel clunky; if he spooks a bit, don’t lean forward because he thinks that means run, instead sit back like a sack of potatoes until he stops.

All I wanted from our first ride was a positive experience and that is exactly what I got, Bubba too. We quietly walked around and started that process of learning to communicate as partners. Three days ago, Bubba ran a race (and almost won) and today, I’m riding him around the ring and he is a gentle, willing champion. I can’t wait to ride him again!

A few rides later Bubba tackles the poles

A few rides later Bubba trots over the poles