Me, Myself, and I

is a LOT of what I’ve been hearing lately, from multiple people. The horse isn’t listening to *ME*, the horse is leaning on *ME*, my “bad moment” didn’t solve anything but *I* feel better.

Frustration is part of the learning process and all feel it but what separates us from other mammals is the ability to control our emotions. The horses brain is walnut sized….even the smartest horse is not as smart as a human (no pointing fingers).

Getting after a horse can be appropriate and produce a better result if done quickly and focused and controlled and the horse has a chance to understand. Using the horse as a literal punching bag because you’re upset they aren’t being perfect, well, that’s a different story. It’s 3,000% not ok and I hope that if someone is witness to a situation where a person loses their cool and is truly enraged, you step in.

Whether during a lesson, at home, or even at a show, you MUST control your rage.

The things we see and hear about can seem ludicrous. An example: at a recent event, I took a stroll after my students dressage test. I came back ten minutes later and her father was asking me why a handler would get after a horse continuously when it’s only making the horse behave worse, and resulted in the horse laying down and rolling on its rider. I was at a loss of words. How do you explain that?

Every horse reacts differently but if what you’re doing isn’t helping, tone it down or do something else. Hearing their walkie talkies discussing someone abusing a horse at an event is disheartening.

That is one of many incidents I’ve experienced in the past month and it wears you down.

You always have options. Dismount, take a walk break, go for a hack, count to 10, sing a song, swear at the animal while staying calm and poised, cry. Any of those options are acceptable.

If you like and respect your trainer, know that after we see behavior like that, we feel for the horse and if you can’t control your rage for your horse, do it for us.

“Practice what is difficult”

ie control your rage

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October

I finally did it! I have a planned, weekly morning off. Woohoo! Sunday mornings are mine (unless there’s a clinic I’m riding in, or a show, or stacking hay.) I’ve also cut back on traveling to teach. Thankfully, my clients are super understanding about this and they’re coming to me. (Thank you, everyone!)

Another big story is that Yordi has returned home to enjoy retirement where her mom can see her everyday. I love getting updates about her daily shenanigans. …but I certainly miss her sweet face!

Florida 7/2017

 I’m in Florida for a week (8 days technically) working with my trainer and his partner (who is also a Grand Prix trainer and judge).

This is a cute sign they have out which made me chuckle because I also have a silly sign at the barn. These are my people.

Plane ride was easy and my bag came out on the strip first (#winning). The farm is peaceful and quiet, clearly focused on training and keeping the horses happy.

The horses are as I imagined. Intelligent with incredibly strong, well muscled toplines. 

They put me on 6 of the horses this morning. All very different and quirky in their own way, all working on the same thing whether greenies or Grand Prix: connection.

Basics, basics, basics. It was super and intense. When a trainer puts you on THEIR horse and tells you fix something, you do it….and you do it NOW. (Or at least that’s how I am. I’ll keep it personal)

Hahaha What an experience! 

When we finished the horses, I promptly showered and threw on my Draper tee shirt and laid down to rest my back for an hour. That tee shirt is a life saver. 

(Draper Therapies. Look it up.)

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I’ve been here six days now (four riding days) and it’s starting to flow. Every barn has their own cycle of the day: different people at different points of the day. And to be honest, there isn’t anyone here who disrupts the peaceful atmosphere. It’s wonderful to be around everyone (I know!! As a former “non people person” I’m shocked I’m saying this too!)

Haha Being a people person is a learned habit but I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of nice, home or elsewhere. It’s even better when we are all here for the horses. We don’t ride tricks, we ride dressage…and there’s a big difference. Dressage is theory and feeling and energy flow and meticulous and time consuming. It’s allowing yourself to be open  to mistakes and learning from them and making it better the next time. 

None of us are the crazy “make it happen, even if it’s frantic” type, and that’s wonderful. We actually teach the horse to understand what in God’s name we are trying to do. They’re not circus creatures, they’re partners….even if that partnership is only 8 days long. 

Once again, seeing his home base, shows me that I’ve chosen the right trainer for my own path. I am so grateful for it all.

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Last day here and what a long week it’s been! Riding the horses they have here (thank you to the owners also!) and traveling with Eugene to lessons where he puts me on their horses as well. Nine horses, who are all totally different and at different levels, I’ve sat on and the amount of fine-tuning of a person that can be done….it’s incredible! 

Sticking with a trainer that suits your own personal way of traveling through life is well worth fighting for. Fight your way to afford it, to earn it, to work it, to enjoy it. Nothing gets handed to you, especially when you choose to sit and wait. 

Keep working. Every. Day. 

Consistency is key and I’ve been riding with Eugene for about four years now. He knows me very well. He knows my horse. And now he knows me on many different horses. It’s a whole new level of knowledge between trainers and the possibilities seem endless.โœŒ๐Ÿป๏ธ

September Clinic

My loving trainer came in like gang busters, guns blazing, show no mercy kind of manner. He really pushed each of us and we all left the arena red, sweating, out of breath, and happy.

I had five of my students riding with him and I rode my pony and a 3yo I’m training. It was really rewarding to see each of my team mates use what they’ve learned and apply and build during the clinic. It’s also pressure on us trainers to have so many of our students riding in one clinic as any leaks, loop holes will be seen.

It’s a real shot of bravery to sit there and watch your training be judged by your own trainer!

Haha fortunately it all went superbly and I couldn’t be more pleased. My trainer was happy with my riders and I was ecstatic they all did so well. My team makes me proud.

There were some first timers with my trainer. Both a bit nervous/anxious but they walked into that arena with an open mind, putting their best effort in and it certainly showed. Their horses looked amazing. The riders looked damn good. I was impressed with the openness they had to new techniques, new wording, how they rolled with it.

I rode Izzy on Saturday and that little pony put her best hoof forward. She showed her improvement in the slower, more relaxed trot work. For my little noisy cricket, the slower tempo trot (where she can relax and come through) is astronomically hard for her but she’s doing it every ride.

That was last week. These last four weeks, I have had so many irons in the fire that I didn’t have a moment to breathe. Last week I was working through a cold and simply lost the ability to breathe๐Ÿ˜‚Riding through a chest cold is always fun!

Now we are here, a week after the jam packed clinic. Illness free!

Dressage at Devon is nearing the end and as I watch the Facebook updates of fellow trainers, owners, breeders, and amateurs, I am thankful for the internet and the fact I have this morning to stand in my dining room with my coffee and watch the clouds on the mountains from my backyard.

Papi

Or if you’d like to be formal, Pablito’s Perignon.

He’s a 2014 ISR gelding. Cute as a button, movement fit for the dressage arena, rare color (ooooooo, ahhhhh), not a mean bone in his body.

He’s been here one full week now and I’m also seeing he has a sense of humor…..just like every other horse in this barn. ๐Ÿ™„

Papi is 3yo but knows virtually nothing. No blame. That’s how it goes. Trainers horses are last on the list. Just ask Izzy! She’s enjoying her 2 day a week rides while mom’s busy๐Ÿ˜‚ So, in the 7 days he has been here, here is what Papi has learned so far:

–leading requires separate dance space. “This is my dance space, this is yours.”

–when I cluck, you move your feet forward. Every. Time.

–stopping means stopping straight, not stepping your hind end away

–walking on a circle is not a big deal

–walking away from supportive equine friends is also not a big deal

–wearing a bridle is totally fine and earns you sugar

–walking and grazing with a saddle is mundane, nothing to write home about

–standing on crossties get your itchy spots scratched

–we can lead from the right side

(yay, ambidexterity!) ** PS unless you’re walking around with a 4′ sword on your left hip, it would be in your best interest to make he sure can be handled from both sides๐Ÿ˜‰**

-โ€”โ€”โ€ขโ€”โ€”

Here is what I have learned about him:

–his giant clodhoppers and dense bones were 100% fine after breaking a fairly substantial water tub(If you jumped him off the roof of your house he would be more than fine. That is how big his feet and bones are๐Ÿ˜)

–he makes comical faces when interacting with you –he refuses to wear a fly mask , much to his mothers dismay That’s a LOT of learning in only 7 days but he’s enjoying kindergarten, especially recess where he can try his best to run his body against 17h James to try and knock him over……ok, so maybe he’s still learning the laws of physics ๐Ÿ˜‚

Whirlwind

August has been a whirlwind and did not slow down until September.

One of the most exciting things that’s happened this year……a brand new wheelbarrow! It has four wheels so you can push or pull or carry. Whatever you want. Anyone who cares for a barn understands how exciting a new, functioning wheelbarrow is. #winning

In no particular order, my young working student (who has sadly gone back to school) took her very hot and strong mare to their first event and they did fantastic! She rode tactfully and made it safely around the courses. #winnerwinnerchickendinner

I have a new event rider training with me now and after three lessons, she scored 10 points improved on her dressage score than past shows. To say they have a bright future is an understatement! Super impressed.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Izzy is getting better and better in the connection and much stronger (lord have mercy). She is even ok with her brand, spankin’ new double bridle. A custom, handmade OS Warendorf double. You read that right. The local auction reject is wearing a $700+ bridle/bits on her pretty, little head. She totally owns it too. Like Cinderella with a switchblade in her garter. She’s perfect.

Two of my clients have started to engage their seat bones evenly #watchoutworld and their horses show appreciation through straightness. It’s satisfying to see.๐Ÿ’“

Cordelia is her normal self with her sinful pride, which makes me laugh. I’m excited for our future together. She’s so bold and athletic. All I have to do is stay on top!

Pele had his second schooling show and his mom rode for schooling purposes in the test. Pele has a habit of passaging instead of trotting. He’s done it for years before we got him and we have been working at abolishing it for the past 1.5yrs

His mom did great and got him out of it very quickly and Pele had a nice working trot for his third level test…..even if it was after we heard spectators asking, “Is he passaging? Isn’t this third level?”๐Ÿ˜‚ We all chuckled.

And last but not least, a dear client and friend has purchased their next dressage partner. Young, talented, kind, and beautiful. Beauty being the last on the list but he met all of our other requirements AND he has a gorgeous head. Our entire barn family is excited for this journey.

That’s it for now. I’ll check in this weekend after we get the new horse settled in and things calm down.

โœŒ๐Ÿป๏ธStay out of the weather!

Young Cordelia

Cordelia is growing up! She is 14.1h 1/4″

Look out! T-Rex coming through! ๐Ÿ˜‚

We’ve been doing more thorough ground manners while walking. To be specific, walking in exciting areas while not becoming airborne. She’s not a fan but she’s dealing with the raised standards.

It took her roughly 35 seconds to understand how to lower her head when asked. Timing is everything, folks.

In all seriousness, she’s one of the smartest horses I’ve met. She’s learned that the electric fence will zap her…except where the electrical tape is. And that is precisely the spot to break it.

So….I fixed it. I fixed it to accommodate her overly active connect-the-dots brain. “Good luck touching the 1/2″ of tape on the fence!”

Meanwhile, I’ve packed her overnight bag with tissues to dry her crying eyes for after she puts her mouth on it.

That’s what you get, girlie. Leave the fence alone!

Anyway, her and Karina had a lovely chat today while bathing. Not certain what it was about but they started whispering and exchanging faces when I walked by.

Singing my praises, I’m sure.๐Ÿ˜‚