|Abrazos Adventure Portales New Mexico
offering family and individual recreation to Portales, Clovis, Cannon AFB and the
surrounding area with horseback riding and lessons
Wendy Toombs owner/instructor 575.760.4444
Rileys Diamon Lil was born May 5, 2000 (easy to keep up with her birthday). We
purchased her mom 5 days before Lil was born. We hoped to use the mare in the school
but it did not work out. She did raise more colts for us and Goober is Lil’s half sister – 4
Lil was primarily raised in a pen – not out with a group. By the time she was a three-year-
old her attitude was pretty sucky. She didn’t want to work beyond just being lazy – she was
stubborn. We had her broke when she was three and I rode her when she came back. The
following year I used her but her attitude left a lot to be desired. We planned to sell her
and advertised her the following spring. In the mean time, we put her out with the group of
A lady came to try her out. It was a cold March day. The woman mounted in the round pen
and walked and trotted. I had explained that Lil was what we call ‘green’ (had been ridden
for 60-90 days but definitely not reliable). She rode her like Lil was a finished pleasure
horse – on a swinging loose rein. It worked until she asked Lil to lope. Ray and I just
looked at each other (we were sitting in the truck outside the pen) because Lil was shaking
her head giving warning that she might buck. Sure enough – she did. We both thought she
would take advantage and unload the lady. She didn’t. The woman had been thrown
forward in front of the saddle and Lil just stopped and stood. This finished the ride for the
prospective buyer. She figured that Lil was too green for what she wanted.
Ray and I talked and I decided to try her again. The time she had spent with the mares
had also helped her attitude with humans. We worked on getting her working and have
had a memorable time in the intervening years. Our granddaughter Kelsea showed her for
a couple of years and won some ribbons with her.
The story is now at March 2009. Kelsea quit riding and showing this time last year. Over
the year Lil had gotten a very uncooperative attitude toward the students – all of us
actually when asked to do anything. The ‘straw’ came a few weeks ago when I had an adult
on her and she wouldn’t even do a good walk let alone trot. I finally got on and she kicked
up several times. I finally got her going and trotting. I turned her back over to the student
and she finished the lesson.
I have really paid a lot of attention to communication beyond just body language. I got to
thinking that no one had ever explained to Lil where Kelsea went. Kelsea (granddaughter)
was Lil’s primary person. I caught her for me to ride and I told her that Kelsea quit because
that was what she wanted and it had nothing to do with her. I also told her I really needed
her in the school but I needed cooperation and that I appreciated all she has to offer. The
ride I had that day was a good one.
A few days later I was going to catch another mare to ride and as I passed Lil I was aware
of ‘take me’ so I did. I rode bareback and did not take the usual whip. The word to describe
that ride was ‘sweet’. She was willing and cooperative. She is continuing the improved
attitude with the students. The kids still have to use the whip for more than a walk but
adults don’t need it.
Hopefully we will continue to listen to her and make the necessary adjustments to continue
a good relationship for both Lil and the humans.