Guys. That is hard for me to admit. And more than a little melodramatic. But it's the truth. So... yea.
Sad facts aside, he had already invited Kaitlyn to join the lesson and would therefore be driving the hour to the farm anyway. So he offered to school Isabel himself. It took a little more waffling on my part (selfishly, I just wanted approximately 357 more beers and a morning spent in a foggy stupor rather than facing the 7am lesson time...) but ultimately I accepted.
|surprise, you're on candid camera!|
Sure, I haul out to trainer P at OF and dressage trainer C at TM (we miss you C!!! and hope to see you soon!!), and trainer Dan hikes down to us from PA. And all of these trainers are qualified to school the horse, and would certainly bring her along better and faster than I can.
But generally we are a pretty teachable pair and are happy to muddle through at whatever speed it takes me to learn and apply. Isabel isn't complicated, and I work hard to study and understand and follow directions and learn from one lesson to the next. So none of these trainers have ever felt compelled to get on to solve a problem, or feel for themselves what might be happening.
This stopping thing tho... This is a new one for us. I'm undoubtedly part of the problem, and my will to carry on is flagging. I'm wilting a little (again with the melodrama, emma!). So a training ride sounded like a wise choice.
|surreptitiously snapping pics from my lap while concentrating on the ride does not make for very nice composition...|
Anyway. I don't exactly feel any more clarity after the watching the ride. But it was a useful exercise. Perhaps worth repeating. Maybe regularly. Idk. We will see. I have thinking to do.
Some details from the ride:
Let's start with Question #1: The mare does not present as uncomfortable. It appears to be a training issue. Specifically, a flat work issue.
And Question #2: Yes she stopped with him too. Only once - and farther into the ride than I would have expected. But the same deal. A last minute decision that nobody sees coming. Despite being shaped into a perfect canter and piloted to a very precise distance to the fence.
Basically, Dan described her as "not very committed" to the fences. He didn't explicitly call her dishonest... but the implication was there in how he compared her to other horses he knew.
His action plan didn't deviate at all from what we've been working on in our lessons - only his application was better (read: professional). Essentially:
- The mare must be in front of the leg.
- But she does not accept or respect leg.
- Every time he half halted, she would spit out the bit and drop her back.
- She.... Well. She got taken to school for this.
- Dan focused on straightness, and collecting the canter then riding forward.
- He achieved a much higher degree of collection (obvi). It took work tho, and she still broke.
- He also got after her every time she sucked back when he put his leg on. EVERY time.
- Even including when he asked her to walk out of the arena to leave.
- Vigilance is apparently the name of that game.
|jumping jumps too|
He jumped her from a very collected canter, and from a forward canter. From a deep spot and a long spot. All very precise tho.
Sickeningly precise ugh. Like - telling me about how she is so careful with her knees, so tidy up front, that I don't need to hold her off a deep distance. That I can keep riding her forward to the deep spot (meaning my entire body language needs to say forward, not just my legs).
And then naturally he just went and demonstrated it. Perfect close distance, with perfectly even strides in approach. Oh to be that accurate one day...
That's besides the point tho. Actually, I'm not even sure what the point is. He schooled the horse, and I think the horse learned a couple lessons.
It... did not necessarily look easy tho. It's possible that he was riding very strongly to give that mare a run for her money... but again it was all just the same things that I've been working on, that I've been trying so hard to master. But that I'm just not doing well enough.
|this may not be the answer to all my questions, but.... oh who am i kidding, add a beer to the pic and who needs horses anyway??|
So idk. I still feel incredibly demoralized. More than I've felt maybe... ever. It's ok tho. I'm one stubborn bitch, and ponies still make my heart go pitter patter.
And luckily for Isabel, she may be putting me through the emotional wringer right now, but I'm not even close to being emotionally prepared to answer some of the questions that arise should I toy with imagining a horse world beyond her.
The path forward remains unclear. All competitions are off the table for the foreseeable future (haha thanks captain obvious!). All pressure is off too. When even stonewall, deadpan Dan reminds you that it's supposed to be fun... well. It's maybe time to re-calibrate the parameters.