Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Arena XC @ MDHT!!!

We got to squeeze in another cross country schooling this year!! And finally, finally, the pieces clicked together well enough that I was finally brave enough to really focus on Charlie's and my introduction to schooling Training level cross country fences!!

very few actual pictures of us, but the shadows speak volumes <3
Loch Moy is one of our favorite venues for many many many reasons. And Arena XC is just one of them haha. But damn, it's a good one!

i spy with my little eye, charlie's cute neighbor pony, and charlie looking majestically out his window lol
The gist is: Loch Moy Farm, home to the Maryland Horse Trials, has about 8 acres across three all-weather rings (check out the link for an aerial shot) that they transform into a cross schooling derby mecca during the winter months.

The lowest ring has a water complex, multiple bank complexes, and a couple ditches built in permanently. The three rings communicate with each other through various passageways (including a fun hill from the middle to the lowest). And all three are filled with full courses of portable cross country fences from Intro and Elementary all the way up to Modified.

this window is so neat bc it's basically at ground level. must be a very different view for tall charlie!
Schooling is available by appointment for the extremely reasonable, imo, fee of $50, tho I have vouchers from all the time I've spent volunteering here this past year. Charlie got his first ever taste of cross country here back in January 2017, and then repeated the effort with a baller BN school this past January.

obvi i don't expect anyone to recognize a random picture of a field.... but this is the big field at isabel's farm. we made a pit stop to pick up rachael and birdie, but ended up switching to her rig when my truck started running a little too hot....
Originally, I had thought to maybe do the upcoming Donation Derby there, but frankly.... I wanted the schooling more than a competition run. I wanted to really focus on working over Training level fences.

Meanwhile, the derby courses aren't the best for moving up: they often make up for the ease of running over a flat surface by ratcheting up the complexity. Which is awesome, don't get me wrong, but that's not something I would want at T right now, obvi haha.

our intrepid team!!!
So my friends and I decided to head out for our own schooling session instead of the derby. And I'm so so SO glad we did! It was awesome. Plus the best weather in recent memory: high 50s with good sun. Yessss!!

wheeeeee shadow jumper!!!
The weather actually worked out to my advantage, I think. Since our recent grids and gymnastics lesson, I'd schooled Charlie once over some ~N sized jumps on a chilly windy day. And homeboy was FRESH OMG. Attacking the jumps but landing very very strongly haha.

I hadn't wanted to shut down that feeling bc I knew I would need his forward bravery in order to feel brave enough myself for the bigger fences at the upcoming schooling.... But it was a touch wild haha. Turns out tho, with the warmer weather he was not quite so electric, tho still quite bold. And the overall effect was that I was very focused on adding leg instead of holding back. It was a good recipe!

kinda wish the jumps were flagged. one of these is T and one is M, not sure which is which. on the softer side since this was ring 1 for the course. we jumped the right side and charlie gave it a LOT of room OMG. you'll have to watch the video for a sense of the airtime!
I had gone back and reread my blog post from schooling at Shawan Downs earlier this year, ahead of my move up to N. That was one of our most successful schools of the year, I think, and I wanted to reread the post to see if I could figure out what contributed to that success.

ditch thru the driveway to ring two!
And it seemed to be two key pieces:

1) I had walked the course the week prior while everything was still flagged, so I knew exactly which jumps were N and therefore couldn't trick myself into believing otherwise.

2) I aimed Charlie at our first N fence very early in the ride (I think my third jump) to force my eye to adjust up to height asap. Bc once one jump looks "ok" then suddenly everything at that height looks better.

garden gates! left side is T, right side is N -- we jumped the right
While the jumps at Loch Moy aren't flagged yet for the Derby (and the courses aren't online yet either, I totally checked haha....), we've been riding at this farm's events for long enough to be pretty familiar with all of their jumps. Charlie's already jumped basically every. single. thing. from their intro, BN and N courses. So I figured I'd be able to recognize the T jumps.

T brush table!! left side is M roll top, right side is N pheasant feeder
And I followed the same pattern from Shawan Downs: aimed Charlie at a T jump almost immediately. We did a cursory warm up at trot and canter, during which I integrated some of the small 2' stadium jumps for lead changes, then immediately pointed to the first line of XC fences. Systematically circling through: first BN, then N, then T.

Naturally these were quite inviting fences, since they were very early on what will be the Derby course. Then after that first T jump, I looped right around to a line of log verticals for T and M. Honestly not sure which was which, but both were well within Charlie's abilities. And he actually jumped the SHIT out of it haha, maybe the little tree under it spooked him? Who knows haha, it felt GREAT!

T mushroom roll top table thingy!! we jumped this at the twilight event we did too, but i was happy to have a second shot to reaffirm that it wasn't a fluke
We then left that arena by cantering the path through the driveway, over the ditch, and into the giant middle arena that usually has the most awesome stuff. It was also currently occupied by a large lesson, so we opted to just cruise directly through to the lowest third ring, but not before catching the N log roll and N garden gate first.

While I was allowing a bit of a left drift (a common Emma problem), Charlie was jumping great. I kept reminding myself to let him canter more forward on an open stride, and keep my reins short with hands half way up the neck. Charlie took care of the rest <3

hint: it was not a fluke lol. look at dem shadow knees!!!!
Once in the lowest ring, we really started cruisin. Our giant T table friend from the Twilight event this summer was down here. And I knew I wanted a second shot at it. Recall I had kinda wimped out from schooling any T on that Twilight course, even tho it was right there.

But then by the last jump, I knew if I didn't jump at least one T thing I'd really regret it. And figured that since it was the last jump, nbd if we kinda biffed it haha. And we did kinda biff it haha, but it was fine. Better than fine - Charlie proved to me that he could easily jump a T table from a long spot. Which like, good to know, bro. Good to know.

left side BN corner, right side N corner
So for this ride, I did a little circuit from an N log coop, to the T brush box thingy that was honestly a last minute choice (I originally planned to aim at the N feeder but.... c'mon, big girl pants, Emma! Aim at the T stuff!!), then around to the table. Boom, Charlie fucking nailed it. Yesss!!

Another little loop around to the N corner and Charlie was in the freakin ZONE. You can see in the shadows but he was just happily carrying me forward to the jumps, taking leg and a loose curb rein, and feeling flippin fantastic!

T boat!!! charlie has now officially jumped the BN, N and T variations of this boat
This horse, he's just so incredible. He's so brave, he makes me feel brave. Brave enough to tackle the above T boat. Which like. Ya know. It's fucking giant. All of these jumps look giant to me, let's be real. I've never schooled T before. Just that table the one time at the Twilight, and a couple jumps shared between N and T.

lol and oh but he flew!! check out that shadow tail flick action!!
But this? This was the real deal. And Charlie ate it up! We got to a long spot and both just went for it. For me, that's something I'm really proud of. Even tho we were jumping the biggest cross country jumps of both of our lives, I never once got left behind or stayed totally in the back seat.

wheeee into the water!!!
As a rider notorious for my nervous, defensive habits, this was kinda a big deal. Going for the long spot? It just isn't my nature haha. But it *is* Charlie's nature. And ya know. I'm finally learning to go along for the ride lol.

T log roll, also quite inviting
Anyway, I was basically already on Cloud 9 at that point. Feeling like we'd accomplished everything I wanted, plus some. But lo! There was still that middle arena to revisit!!!

T roll top. one of my favorite pictures of isabel is over the N version of this jump <3
We kept it pretty simple up here tho. A quick trip over the most inviting of the T fences in this ring: a log roll top to the paneled roll top pictured above, with a nice long gallop in between. Then another little circuit over the T cut out table. Which.... we kinda chipped a little bit the first time so I repeated that one for a better effect (in the video!!).

Honestly that one looked pretty big to me too, so I was very proud of myself for going for it anyway.

just having so much fun galloping around on my giant thoroughbred <3
There were a few other things I could have tried on this day but opted not to. Idk why. I'm pretty sure Charlie would have jumped the moon if I aimed him at it. But ya know. We don't have to do *all the things* in just one day lol.

T cutout table (and evidence of our first effort on the left side baseboards haha)
It's actually kinda funny, in a way, bc when I laid out "schooling T" in my goals for the year, I had expected that we'd be working on the technical stuff (like combinations or whatever) at smaller heights first, before I worked on the actual height elements.

charlie was FLYING guys, what a star!! and uh, emma, maybe it's time to condition that slippery ass saddle haha
But that assumption was rooted in the idea that I'd be doing this in xc lessons. Which .... have been sparse to non existent. Meanwhile, I tend to be hesitant to ride combinations without having either walked them ahead of time, or having a trainer there for guidance.

The height, tho? Well we've been schooling 3'3+ stadium jumps in lessons for months now. The height is clearly no problem for Charlie, it was just a matter of pumping myself up enough to actually translate that to xc jumps. And esp in an arena setting, on a nice flat well groomed surface? It's that much easier haha.

up bank combination! up the hill to the little X, then a few strides to another jump
Tho I knew I'd regret it if I didn't practice at least a little complexity haha. So to finish up, we did the super fun line from the lowest ring, up the bank, up the hill to an X, five strides to the N roll top arc thing. Charlie was foot perfect!

final jump of the up bank line, N roll top on left, T coop on right
Like, so so so good. Even now, looking back on it, rewatching the video, I see all sorts of other things I could have tried. Or feel like maybe I *should* have been brave enough to do a few more jumps.

But. No, I'm 100% satisfied. I'm proud of myself for going for it. I have wanted this for a long time. Have been trying so hard to make the lessons happen, to create the opportunity to start working on T. And, ya know, there have been obstacles. We had to scratch at the last minute from TWO xc clinics this year, both of which I had entered for T. That's disappointing, ya know?

returning to the trailers feeling happy 
But I knew Charlie was ready. And he totally is, good boy <3

Obvi there's a lot more work to do. Moving up isn't just about bigger fences. There's a lot we have to learn about combinations, speed, different fence styles, and all on terrain to boot, bc eventing doesn't actually happen in an arena lol.

footing stained his tail gray haha
This felt like a great first step tho. And esp at this point in the season, it feels a little bit like planting a seed in Charlie that will hopefully have the entire off season to germinate and bloom. At least, that's the idea lol.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

puppies: the ultimate distraction

There are a number of benefits to boarding at a sprawling historic multi generational family farm. It's a giant farm, with a ton of people around all the time and all manner of buzzing activity.

Bess is a real troublemaker haha
Cars up and down the drive all day long. Lesson ponies endlessly cycling from the kid-filled shedrow barn up to the arenas, and back again. Tractors and kubotas and trailers chugging hither and thither. Shetlands literally everywhere, not to mention the sheep, goat and Goose the pig.

Oooh, and the dogs. Lots and lots and LOTS of dogs. Everywhere. At least half a dozen (if not more) live on the farm itself, spread across the multiple households onsite. And of course boarders and trainers often bring their dogs too.

All this to say - it's a great farm to board if you want a horse completely bombproofed and accustomed to all manner of shenanigans haha.

dog ball!!
Also nice: the farm hosts all sorts of fun schooling shows all year round, meaning the dressage ring is routinely set up with a proper court. So even tho Charlie and I aren't entered to ride in this particular show, we still got to school inside the boards for as long as we wanted! And even better? We had the ring all to ourselves!

puppy is having the most fun ever haha
Well.... Almost all to ourselves haha....

Is your farm similarly busy? Do you like it? Or do you prefer a quieter atmosphere? Or are you like Charlie, preferring the distraction of a puppy to actually, ya know, working on that whole 'dersage' thing?? lol....

Friday, November 23, 2018

A different take on goal setting

Upper level event rider Matt Brown recently wrote an extremely candid article for Chronicle of the Horse about goal setting in particular, and the mental health implications thereof more generally.

In short? He shared a very personal look into how his fixation on specific outcomes ("Be selected to the Olympics team!") led him down a troubled road replete with dissatisfaction, anxiety, demoralization, and an overwhelming sense of fragility that crept into every aspect of his life -- even his personal relationships.

That finally, Matt hardly recognized himself anymore and realized he needed professional help to get back on track. This led him to begin aggressively researching mental health, and its interplay with our ambitions and approach to goal setting. And from this, he learned more about how to adjust and adapt his mindset and reevaluate how he sets goals in order to feel more fulfilled.

The article is definitely worth a full read -- especially since it appears to be Part 1 of a series. But I thought I'd share some quick thoughts on my general impression.

One major actionable takeaway from Matt's story is the importance of "process" v "outcome" goals. The idea being, often we have very very little control over specific outcomes, no matter how hard we try. And that if all our hope and happiness is tied up in something over which we have limited to no control.... We're setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Rather, he says we're not only likelier to succeed, but also likelier to be satisfied and happy with our efforts, when we focus on the "process" goals. Meaning, the steps we can control that naturally would lead to that desired outcome.

He uses dressage scores as an example: Focusing on a specific score would be an "outcome." Whereas focusing on the movements or our efforts in schooling etc are more related to the "process" of achieving that outcome.

Matt writes,
"Process goals are more conducive to actually feeling fulfilled on your journey towards a goal, and oftentimes are more useful in the actual accomplishment of your goal. Process goals consist of things that are within your control. They have mainly to do with your attitude, your behaviors, your thoughts, your level of effort and your actions. When we focus on the things we can control we can take ownership of our path, and we can make progress in any situation regardless of our circumstances."

This, to me, makes a lot of sense. And much like Olympic dressage coach Jane Savoie's idea of only ever using positive language in goal setting (ie, avoiding terms like no, not, stop, don't, won't, can't, less, never, etc etc), seems reasonably easy to adopt.

Winter is the season when many of us start thinking more deeply about goal setting for the coming year. And as I organize my thoughts, these words from Matt will be top of mind.

There's something else, tho, here -- another undercurrent that I think is especially important for me personally, and maybe some of you too.

It's that, from where I stand, from my perspective, Matt is so incredibly accomplished. He's done so much, achieved so much. And yet, here he is, honestly and without adornment sharing his struggles with feeling like he's not good enough, doesn't measure up, can't make the cut.

It's so common now with social media's highly curated photographs and video clips of only the best moments, that we're practically inundated with images and impressions of those around us achieving more, doing more, doing better, getting farther. And that if we're not careful, it's all too easy to fall into that trap of negatively comparing ourselves to all that. To look at our own circumstances, without the shiny filters and editing of what's presented online, and feel badly about ourselves.

And furthermore, to think that, if we could just reach that next level, make that next step, do that bigger jump or movement, then maybe we'd be happy like those people in the pictures too.

Matt's article tells us, tho, that not only does that mindset not actually lead us to happiness and satisfaction, but that it can actually rob us even further of our joy. And that even at the highest levels of this sport, there still always that next level to haunt you, if all you ever think about are outcomes.

Rather, even for us mere mortal amateurs, it's so important to focus our efforts on what we can control, and let the chips fall where they may. We invest too much in this sport --- infinitely more than time, money and energy --- to not be deriving happiness and satisfaction from it.

And so as I look toward evaluating my goals from this past year, and setting new goals for the year to come, all of this will very much be in my mind. And I'll be focusing on the process, those small steps that I love so much.

Did you read the article too? What did you think of it? Did any of the points resonate with you as well? Any takeaways or perspectives that stand out to you?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

tbt: happy memories for gratitude season

The cool thing about memory is.... as time passes, more often than not we're only ever really left with the overall emotional impression for any big event.

Incidental details like the weather (brutally hot, unrelentingly cold), a poor night's sleep, the acute sensations of pain, small snags and frustrations throughout the day, etc etc.... All of that eventually fades away, out of mind. Eventually, it seems like memories distill into the simplest common denominators.

Like "Happy" or "Sad."

may 2018, after charlie's first novice! pc Austen Gage
And I don't know about you all, but I much prefer the happy memories haha.

Obviously we can't always control every outcome, no matter how hard we try. But we can choose how we react, and how we move forward.

So this time of year, as the days shorten, the calendar clears and we start reflecting on how we stacked up against whatever big ambitious goals were laid out at the beginning of the year.... This is my favorite time for dwelling a little longer on the happy memories. 

so crazy about this horse <3 pc Austen Gage
So today, I'm grateful for each and every one of those happy moments, no matter how small or hard fought. And I'm grateful for the people in my life who have shared those moments. My friends, my family. Anyone and everyone who has shared in any way small or large in the 'FCE journey. And of course all the four legged critters as well <3

And I'm looking forward to a long holiday weekend spent with as many of those special people and critters as possible. Plus. Ya know. All the eating haha ;)

Wishing everyone in the States a Happy Thanksgiving!! And everyone else a fun weekend, hopefully to include even more newly created good memories!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

long overdue dressage lessons

As has been the case since I started taking lessons with dressage trainer C back in early 2015, every single lesson recap must apparently begin with expressing sadness that "it's been too long!" And then recount exactly how long it has been. This post will be no exception haha. Ahem.

So yea. It's been a while. For how much trainer C revolutionized my riding, I somehow am terrible about making time to ride with her. Last lesson was way back in May. No real excuse for the long dry spell either.

I mean, ok, I have excuses --- moving house this summer was a major kick in the financial teeth and required serious adjustments in my budget. When push came to shove, I guess I wanted to spend my limited dollars on events. Considering Charlie continued to progress on the flat despite not having purposeful dressage lessons, it seemed like an ok, if not ideal, sacrifice.

But I do love these lessons. And this farm. And the ring. And the footing. Basically all of it. And so, apparently, does Charlie.

finally back to this gorgeous nearby farm for our..... twice (??) annual pilgrimage?? 
Since moving to his current boarding barn last summer, we haven't done much solo traveling. There's never much of a need - there's almost always someone at our farm who wants in on whatever fun activity we're doing. So there's only ever just the occasional quick solo trip here and there, with the big exception of the hauls to and from New Bolton for Charlie's surgery. Which.... were not happy trips for Charlie, let me tell you.

So somehow I've developed a little bit of a complex, worrying about Charlie coping with being all by his sad lonesome self in the trailer! Poor long suffering soul!!! I shouldn't worry tho. Lol. He's fine. Totally 100% fine. Just like he always is.

Which, let's be real, that's always a very welcome and reassuring reminder!

charlie thinks the views are fine and whatnot, but would much rather focus on the hay plz!
So anyway we packed on over to TM for our first dressage lesson in absolute ages, and it was a good one. I got trainer C up to speed with what Charlie's been doing since May (#slaying), and told her what I told you guys last week: That Charlie seems ready to tackle first level.

And?? After putting us through our paces and through the components from 1-1, she agreed! Much excitement haha.

So. Details. My overall impression from this ride is that we didn't necessarily touch on anything new for me or Charlie. We covered all the ground I work on by myself (with the exception of counter canter - we saved that for another day since Charlie was too tired, poor pone pone).

By and large, trainer C didn't have any major corrections or changes to what we were doing, but instead was able to help with refinements and reaffirm that we're on the right track.

this counts as a riding shot, right?!
First up: my position. This is the most at-risk aspect of my riding when going so long without lessons. Like, I can make changes based on videos from shows (look no further than the difference in rein length from Jenny Camp to our final event of the season!). But.... it's not the same. And bad habits are HARD to correct once committed to muscle memory.

Particularly, trainer C noted that I consistently collapse my torso to the inside. It's something I know about, and try to fix when I notice it.... but having someone prodding me helps immensely. Overall, I need more symmetry and evenness on both sides of the horse. From my legs through my seat and hips up to my shoulders and down my arms as well.

And yes, trainer C wants my reins shorter too haha. Always. Charlie is extremely light in the bridle right now, and while it isn't exactly C's style, she's ok with it. But esp in a show setting, she says that my too-long reins and too-far-back hands can create the appearance of no connection. So she wants me carrying my hands more forward, maintaining a forward feeling in them, even if the weight in the reins doesn't change.

love his fuzzy ears and fluffy mane tho <3
Moving on to the horse, let's start with her thoughts on the trot. Generally speaking, trainer C wants us more forward in trot. Which echoes much of what I've heard from judges this year. It also echoes how we got Charlie started: forward forward forward, and everything else later.

It's a strategy that has worked well for Charlie, but in recent months I've kinda gone a little bit in the opposite direction with more of the Dan approach: slow slow slower, very round, very balanced. Developing the strength in this slower pushing tempo so that you can then carry the balance more forward. And, ya know, that approach has worked extremely well for Charlie too.

So I think I just need to be thoughtful in applying each approach. I like the "purposeful, slow" way of going bc that's part of what's made Charlie so much more rideable. He can be a very strong horse and sometimes hard to steer. But he *is* becoming capable of holding himself together even in that more forward pace. So I just need to go both ways, I think, but carefully so that I don't confuse Charlie or make him feel like the goal posts keep moving.

actual picture of charlie by the end of the lesson
Once in trot, we worked on leg yields, the 10m tear drop turns, and lengthenings. Trainer C is happy with how our leg yields are going. I just need to remember to be more even in my own position, and find those moments of straightness before and after the movement.

The 10m half circle tear drop turn thingys were actually better than expected. I practice them often (plus practice a metric fuck ton of square turns in general), but considering I usually ride in a 30m wide arena, I wasn't sure my turns were small enough. But they're actually pretty ok!

Turning left is easier than turning right, so I need to be extra prepared (ya know, by like, simple things like putting my left ass cheek in the saddle....#details). But it's nbd. Trainer C suggested making the turn a little bit more oval - like going a little further than 10m up the quarter line before finishing the turn back to X and then cutting back to the rail. This seemed to work well for Charlie and kinda broke the movement up into three distinct but smooth pieces.

Lengthenings were also better than expected! We hadn't practiced them since coming back into work, but Charlie remembers. We worked on these across the diagonals and down the long sides. Trainer C was cool with the little jolt-y steps that were almost breaks to canter bc Charlie is still figuring this out, but is definitely activating his "push" -- which is what we want.

She told me to just keep posting as clearly as possible with no discernible change in my rhythm, and to avoid telling him that push is wrong. She also wanted me to keep asking for more down the line. With Isabel, her lengthenings were so naturally just like, right there, that I would make the turn, half halt, cue for lengthening, and then just..... sit there and enjoy it haha. But with Charlie I'l need to be more proactive, continuing asking him to keep it up.

steaming in the heated wash stall!!
For the canter.... Well. Yea trainer C still LOVES Charlie's canter haha. He's such a good boy <3 But, ya know, she still also does *not* love how I sit it lol. Bc I still suck at sitting the canter. Still. Ugh. Blargh. WTF Emma.

I need to get my seat bones more down and under me, but not digging. And simultaneously a softer back and taller upper body. But ugh.... it's like I can do one of these things at a time, ya know? Like I can get the feeling in my seat, but then I'm slouching. Or I can be up and tall, but perching in my seat. I think a big part of the issue is that I hold everything in my back instead of my core. Like I'm somehow reversed lol. It's a tough thing to change....

In terms of work we did in canter, we did a few simple changes of lead through trot at X. These were fine - Charlie's been doing them since we started cantering. But I need to clean up the downwards. Especially right now when he's a little out of shape, we kinda "free fall" into them.

We also worked on lengthenings at canter. Which is not something I've actually practiced bc.... Honestly I haven't felt like we've needed it. Might sound weird but I kinda just figured the stride length would be there when we need it in the test (it's always right there when we jump!), and that it was more important to focus on the transition from lengthened to working by practicing moments of compression and collection.

Trainer C agreed with this approach, but wanted to practice anyway haha. So we worked on opening Charlie's stride down the long side. C wanted a slight feeling of shoulder fore in the lengthen. At first I struggled with this, not fully understanding and doing too much with my inside rein. She then said the feeling was about getting more "lift" in that inside shoulder, which helped me better understand and fix my positioning.

There was a clear difference in the feel of Charlie's alignment for the steps we got it, so that will be what I aim for when working on this at home.

"scuse me but can i just stay here forever tho???"
Charlie, for his part, was an absolute rockstar for everything. Extremely rideable, very much on the aids. Quickly reflecting each small adjustment I made. Like quick little bumps with the inside leg at canter (which reminded me of what Dan said about working more on leg yielding on a circle at canter) to help him pick himself more up - and he always responded.

He was very very tired by the end tho lol. Like I'm actually about 85% positive that trainer C thought we'd go through one last little work set before finishing.... But I called it for poor Charlie's sake haha. He's an extremely communicative and expressive horse - you never really need to guess how he feels. And at this moment, he was standing there with all four feet kinda parked under and head hanging lowwwww.

Homeboy was done lol. And that was totally cool. He had been so good, so so so good. Said yes to everything. Kept trying, kept pushing. Did not lose any quality of his work so that I hadn't even realized how tired he was until we took that break and he went into immediate pitiful "can we plz be done?!" mode lol. And so we were done.

mmmmmm heat lamps
Which meant Charlie got part 2 of the day: the spa treatment in the fancy schmancy heated wash stalls with - *gasp* - WARM water! And HEAT LAMPS!! I figured this was my last chance to give him a bath before he gets clipped without him actually wanting to murder me dead in the cold outdoor wash stall at our own barn so.... Yea. We capitalized haha. And damn but did he love every single second of it lol.

And apparently it was rejuvenating enough that he was happy to go galloping back out to his friends in the pasture when we got home. So..... maybe he wasn't so tired after all haha, considering he almost always just walks up the hill lol. Tricksy beast...

Anyway I know I always say this, but I really do love these lessons and hope to increase their frequency.... Even if it's just like, one a month. A girl can dream, right?