Pasha

Around 1967 the original Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions show came to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. While in town the troupe boarded at Flo and Howard Lininger’s Hill Meadow Farm. After the exhibitions, the Herrmann family gave Flo and Howard a young Lipizzan stallion named Pasha. Flo determined that Pasha would become her first real dressage horse and set out to start the youngster at age two.

We no sooner began a wide circle than the horse simply fell down! I can still hear Flo shouting "Gigi, get off!" This routine continued for several days.

I had been boarding with the Lininger’s each spring and fall for several years. At age thirteen, Flo decided that I was old enough to help break the colt. Pasha took to the work on the longe in stride and didn’t seem to mind the addition of a saddle. Trouble arose when we tried to mount him for the first time. After the normal longeing routine, Pasha stood well as I gently slid into the saddle. We no sooner began a wide circle than the horse simply fell down! I can still hear Flo shouting “Gigi, get off!” This routine continued for several days. Longe quietly, mount gently, take a few steps in the saddle and jump off as he fell! As with Buttercup’s mad dashes for the barn, I was scared as the horse did something unexpected but the fear simply fueled my determination to fix the problem.

The following day I decided to try a different tactic. Back then I was primarily a jumper rider so I thought a crop might help. Pasha’s mounting ritual remained unchanged and as we moved off at a walk he started to fall. As Flo shouted to get off, I held my breath and swatted him three times hard. In absolute surprise he jumped up and continued on without objection. From that point forward Pasha simply had to see the riding bat and he wouldn’t try to go down.

Though not the most classical technique ever employed, I took great satisfaction in knowing I hadn’t given up when faced with a problem.