Starting Trinny under saddle

Starting Trinny under saddle

Trinny (Trijntje) was born under the pecan tree in our front field in early February 2016. Her mum is thoroughbred Summer Wine and her dad is friesian Trienko Van Noordwijk. Almost four years passed between her first breath as I held her wet body in the dark morning, and Christmas day 2019, when I decided it was the right time to begin riding her.

At three she was still narrow chested and lanky legged, but during 2019 she grew, and became a solid, confident explorer as Juno and I took her on long trail adventures. A few times I slid on her back in the field and I could now feel how strong and well muscled her back was, and how easily she held my weight.

The journey of riding Trinny began at birth, and the weeks following as we tamed the wild flighty little filly to our touch and presence. Once she was haltered I began handling her legs and hooves and teaching her to move off a pressure. She learned to ‘lead at liberty’ in one lesson, as her natural friesian friendliness and innate curiosity mean she wants to be around humans and always see what is happening. That first lesson involved a loose cord around her shoulder, a click to walk and a woah to stop. She thought it was a brilliant new game.

As a naturally sassy and nosy horse, I have constantly told her to step back, back off, back up as she would otherwise be standing with her head over your shoulder to see what is happening – but she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.

I added groundschool when she was around two. Very, very exciting said Trinny as she leaped and pirouetted – I am a BIG girl now! Teaching her the idea of moving off pressure here too was super easy except for getting her to un-stick her shoulders and give laterally. I enlisted the judicious help of Ben from True West Horsemanship, who worked hard to get Trinny softening and bending, and gave me a massive head start on achieving this myself!

Tack was just fine with her and she literally opened her mouth to take the bit the first two times – she must have been watching very carefully. There was one real bucking session with the saddle but it had slipped forward on her shoulders so I thought that fully justified.


So, before riding Trinny, we had a mare with a strong sense of self confidence, strong trust in her human, experience of seeing her best friend enjoying rides, an enjoyment of exploring and ground school foundations for giving to pressure, following a feel, and moving her feet.

A nice place to start!

First two photos by the talented@amybuncugaphotography

On Christmas Day, I took Trinny to my brother’s farm, ground schooled her, and then slid on bareback, with the rope halter. We rode around the hills a little and I asked her to stop, turn and move her hind and shoulders across. She was great but his mare was whinnying and creating a real distraction so we brought her home and then rode around the neighbour’s lovely big gardens. She was nervous and tried really hard to be brave. A big reward, lots of cuddles and nice feed.

Ride two we went to the pony club, put Juno in a yard and let Trinny take me exploring around the large open field. She was off right away at a brisk walk to see all the sights. Again, I was bareback with a halter, which she is used to and responded really nicely to. She stopped on a command of woah. Brilliant.

Ride three we went to a friend’s arena and I rode her in saddle and bridle with the halter over the top so if something went sideways I wouldn’t need to pull her mouth with the unfamiliar bit. She thought hard about the saddle feeling, but complied with every request and even gave a perfect back up off a soft cue. Good girl!

Ride four was at home and we trotted, ride five was alone at the beach, ride six she freeloaded to go out but gave me a few grumpy bucks, ride seven was out with a friend in the forest (the saddle slipped forward and she bucked in annoyance), ride eight we rode at the beach in full tack, ride nine she gave me my first Friesian power trot (wheeee!).

Ride ten she made me laugh! She insisted we go out over the bridge and along the public road and stare at the cattle – she didn’t want to come in the driveway and tried to go the other direction to see more. This was our first ride with just the bridle and saddle. Ride eleven included some big happy canters at the beach! Ride twelve was a road hack, ride thirteen aptly had many scary hazards (letterboxes, trash bins, poles) all of which she coped with.

Ride fourteen was a big 10km trail ride on the west coast with beach gallops and sand dunes and trails … she was a STAR. Ride fifteen was exploring all around pony club. After this I ponied her out with Juno again and it became our sixteenth ride when I slid from Juno’s back to Trinny and rode her for a while before slipping back to Juno!!

Seventeen was a ride with beautiful Eloise of and her big boy Rua who set Trinny a great example and gave her a ‘steady bloke’ to follow! Eloise showed me where to swim our horses and Trinny thought the cool water was wonderful.

For our 18th ride we attended a True West Horsemanship clinic and Trinny did really well with more horses than she knew existed in the world all in the arena with her! So ride 19 was a bareback beach stroll and swim in the river! We tallied ride twenty with a 5km trail ride at Ti Tree Hills which she honestly loved, and did so well at. Then I promised I would stop counting how many rides we have done.

But since then we’ve learned to ride with a flag, carried a swiss ball, ridden over a tiny bridge and stood on the ‘box’ at a Cowboy Challenge practice day. She has met wild goats, cattle, windmills, huge inflatable pink flamingos (yes, really) and survived them all with panache. She has even learned how to jump, and we’re working on refining the various speeds of each gait! It has been a busy learning period over the last 3 months, and we’ve crammed in a lot of fun and laughter.

I honestly feel that she is safer and braver than a lot of older horses I have ridden, and has a great start to her ridden life tucked under her saddle. She asks to come out just as persistently as Juno does, and gives a brilliant effort every time, striding out along the trail like an experienced horse with ears pricked for the next interesting sight. I love that she pauses to smell things too, like sweet lupin flowers or unusual shrubs.

She brings her curiosity along with her and holds her spirit high, always trying her best. She has exceeded every expectation and gives me a huge grin when I ride her. Such a clever, brave, saucy little miss! I just can’t wait for the next ten years of fun… or more!

Thank you Trinny! 

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