The Iberian Experience

May 18, 2010

The Help of Someone Older and Wiser

Filed under: Uncategorized — iberianexperience @ 2:47 pm

Today, I would like to introduce you to someone extraordinarily special.  He was a surpassingly loving horse, a true gentle giant and the first horse that ever carried me to a competition.  Named in part for his rather large stature, somewhere in time he was given the name BigMac… and it stuck.  His soft chestnut coat and empathetic eyes made him beautiful to look at while his calm temperament and understanding personality made him irresistible to love. 

BigMac and I at our First Show


He truly was the perfect horse.  Perhaps not the world’s best athlete, but he would without a doubt, give it his best shot and ensure his rider had the time of their life!  He was a horse I would be proud to have DoubleShot imitate and it was with this idea that I began working with the two of them together. 

Up until this point, all of my work with DoubleShot was done with me standing on the ground.  With BigMac in the picture, I was provided with the opportunity to change that.  Ponying is a technique that places one rider on one horse while the second, un-mounted horse, tags along.  It’s a practice that was purely functional for many hundreds of years. Used for transporting more goods that one horse alone could carry or simply for transporting more horses than one person could ride. 

The pack-horse was valuable, but something else was even more valuable.  The fact that you could use a horse that was too young to ride to be a pack-horse.  It’s obvious that many riders saw the additional value in the training element this offered young horses as well. Not only did the pack-horse get the job done, but they learned a lot in the process.  And this was the very same training element I was seeking with DoubleShot and BigMac. 

With BigMac as my lead horse, suddenly DoubleShot saw me from a completely different perspective. No longer was I on the ground, but I was above her. I could reach over her side and pet her back, head and neck from an angle she hadn’t experienced previously. Frequently I would also lean over and rest on her back, providing her the first sensation of carrying a person’s weight. 

With BigMac’s clean movements, DoubleShot had to match her gait to his and begin the learning process of strides, balance and forward.  And they were great together! Patiently, BigMac would let DoubleShot rest her head on his neck when she needed a break and appropriately he would threaten with a bite or a kick if she got out of line.  I truly became surprised at how fond they seemed to be of one another. 

We worked at this for several weeks and eventually we did a Free Style competition with me on BigMac with DoubleShot coming along. It was a wonderful, personal experience that the first competition of my life was on BigMac and that my first competition with DoubleShot was also with BigMac.  He had provided the bookends, if you will, of my equine life.  Gracefully he ushered me into this exciting world of training, competing and connecting with something other than myself and benevolently he escorted me into the next phase of my equine life with an extraordinary filly called DoubleShot. 

BigMac, DoubleShot and I at our First Free Style


I was so thankful to have had that time with BigMac. Being in his early 30’s and having enjoyed a wonderful life, he passed away only a few weeks after our free style. He was truly a gift and a horse that will never be forgotten.  The lessons that he taught me are undoubtedly the foundation of what I do every day and I know that the lessons he taught DoubleShot will serve as her foundation as well. 

He was old and he was wise and he was wonderful.



  1. There is something so special about older horses, and Big Mac was extra special. Thanks for the lovely tribute to him!

    Comment by kazuo831 — May 18, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

  2. How bittersweet…what a transition. I don’t even know BigMac and I miss him!

    Comment by fallsnowtimothy — May 27, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

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