a little late, right?!
This week has been a long list of do this, do that. Oh, and do it with a smile in temperatures over 90 degrees. Not that I am really complaining as most of it was horse related.
I was on poop/barn patrol from Sunday though Wednesday which means that I cleaned all three stalls each afternoon, checked and filled water troughs as necessary, watered the arena, and swept up each afternoon. I like barn duty, but it's not quite so much fun after work when it's hot. Just sayin'.
Even with the added barn chores, I still rode Speedy on Monday night, Sydney on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I rode both boys on Thursday night. Hubby and I had a date night dinner on Friday so I skipped the barn altogether.
With that, on to Monday's lesson.
Let's just say that I earned my first ever trainer high-five. I've said before that I've surprised her, in a good way, but never to this degree. At the lesson the week before, Speedy was ripping the inside bend away, bucking, rearing, BALKING, leaping sideways, and performing other spectacular airs above ground. All in all, he was a complete stink pot.
I am sure JL was prepared, even braced, for another stinker of a lesson in the heat. Without any fan fare, she got us started at the walk and asked to see some sideways steps. No problem. Speedy accepted the inside bend and yielded. JL's eyebrows went up a notch. I asked for the trot, and her jaw pretty much dropped. I knew she was wondering what in holy hell had happened in just a week.
I explained that I hadn't ridden during the past week, but had instead worked Speedy in the side reins with the inside rein set to maintain the inside bend. Watching him and feeling what he did on the line had given me a pretty decent AHA moment. I rode him over the weekend and finally understood/felt what I needed to maintain the bend.
I think she was truly impressed by how much I had accomplished from one week to the next. I've been riding with her for nearly two years now and know that she has no respect for talented riders who won't do their homework. She has told me before that she would much rather teach a less talented rider who works hard than the "natural" who won't do the work. It gets frustrating to work with students who won't do their homework; I know the feeling exactly!
Once she saw that we had "it," we worked on walk to halt transitions so that I could really feel when I was about to lose his inside shoulder and outside hind leg. From the walk, I was only to let him truly halt if his inside shoulder remained up and if his end remained straight - no falling in or drifting out. As we were halting, if either of those things happened, I squeezed and we moved forward and outward. Eventually, he stayed right between my aids and halted on the circle without falling in or drifting out.
Once we had it at the walk, we repeated the exercise at the trot. The whole exercise only took 25 minutes or so. Now that I am developing a more even contact, I can feel where I am about to lose him and can correct it before it's lost. When our trot to walk was pretty good, she asked for a canter transition.
I gave a big grin as Speedy politely jumped into the canter without falling in or flinging his head. I think that immediate and correct departure pleased JL more than anything else that day. As a teacher, it gives me no end of satisfaction when one of my students finally gets something and can demonstrate it on command. I think she felt proud of all of her hard work!
As we cantered, JL asked me to lift his shoulder with a rhythmic outside rein and leg. When she was satisfied that he was fairly, soft she asked for a walk. Our downward was just as nice as the departure had been, and he came back to walk without falling in on the inside shoulder. The lesson was over.
I might have my next lesson this morning rather than on Monday. I have some conflicting appointments next week so I am waiting to hear from her. Lesson or not, I'll be in the saddle early today as our weather is again predicted to be pretty warm. Now that we've crossed this hurdle, I am eager for our next show to see if getting the inside bend influences my scores the way I think it will. I'll know next Saturday.
If I ASK, that is. Thanks to Rene Johnson, the last judge I had at El Sueno, for giving me permission to do so.
Using the side reins gave me a new understanding of Speedy's natural desire to bend right. It's so easy for me to feel that he is being naughty in his resistance rather than that it is just hard work for him. Speedy is so smart and communicative that I frequently give him far more powers of reasoning than he probably has!
Watching him on the lunge line with the side reins attached, I could see that he was trying to work it out. He tried really hard to tip his head to the outside, but each time he caught the inside rein. As he circled, I watched him tilt his head this way and that searching for the release. it took a few days, but I think he finally figured it out.
I also figured it out. He was only able to do so because the rein was STEADY. When I ride, I have to have hands that act like side reins if I really want him to listen to my inside leg.
I rode him for the first time in a week on Saturday. He had been worked in the side reins for the week, but I hadn't ridden him because I wanted him to feel a fixed inside rein. I lunged him again on Saturday, but then I put him back in his stall while I lunged and rode Sydney. This served two purposes: first, I wanted him to have time to process what he might have learned, and second, I wanted him to work twice in a day like he might at a show.
As I knew he would, he came out of the stall eager to get to work. At a show, he knows what's coming for the second ride and doesn't find it stimulating. At the barn, he never knows what we're going to do when he comes out of the stall so he's always eager to find out.
Since he was relatively warmed up, I skipped the long rein walk and put him straight to work. While walking the arena's perimeter, I had him bend his neck and asked for some sideways steps. Step, step, step ... forward. After one lap, I asked him for a trot, but I was vigilant about the inside rein AND my inside leg AND the outside rein AND the outside leg.
As I asked him to pick up the trot, I insisted that he move OVER as he picked up the trot. I recently discovered that I have been letting him fall in when he takes his first trot or canter step. I have let him do the same thing in the downward transitions, too. No more.
I don't know how many dressage riders it would take to screw in the light bulb that appeared over my head during that ride; it was huge. I finally, finally felt how I need to coordinate my inside leg to my outside hand while using my inside rein and my outside leg. Oh, and my seat.
In order for Speedy to hear my leg, there has to be a steady bend and a FIRM outside hand. When I use that inside leg, I have to MAKE SURE that he moves away from it and NOT forward. And in order for that outside rein to be heard, I HAVE to use my outside leg to keep his haunches from falling out. Seriously. I could hear puzzle pieces clicking into place almost in fast forward.
So what happened? Why did I all of a sudden get it? I am pretty sure that the main problem has been unevenness in my reins. I've learned to keep steady contact, but it hasn't been even. If I had a good bend, I threw away the outside shoulder. If I was strong on the outside rein, I lost the inside bend. Seeing Speedy in the side reins really helped me visualize what needs to happen to get him to bend his body around my inside leg.
We don't have it mastered of course, but once I really "feel" something, I can't un-feel it. I am eager for a few more rides to really cement this learning!
Wow. Things have been hectic at my house. There's work of course; that keeps me very busy five days a week. There has also been a fair amount of showing of late: 6 show days over an eight week period. Hubby and I also just spent a weekend at our cabin. This was the first Saturday that I've actually been home in several months.
I would have liked to have arrived at the barn after a leisurely morning at the house, but our temperatures have breeched the 90 degree range so it's back to early morning rides when possible. I lunged Speedy in the side reins first, more about that later, but then it was Sydney's turn.
He and I had a few bleh rides this past week so I was really looking forward to getting some solid work out of him. Riding after a full work day is hard. I am not as mentally sharp as I need to be, and my body is already tired before I even step into a stirrup. All of that equaled rides that weren't as productive as they needed to be.
Since Speedy had been a bit wild and wooly on the lunge, I suspected Sydney might be feeling fresh as well so he also did some lunge line work. Nothing wild happened, but he did toss in a few bucks, and he did give a few dig-in rounds on the line before I asked him to return to a more sensible tempo. Once I knew the worst of whatever was going to happen had happened. I brought him back to a walk and gave him lots of reassuring pats and hugs. I've learned that the lunge line is a bit stressful for him. I think (know) his previous owners used the lunge line simply to work out excess energy. But that's a different topic.
My riding plan was to focus on my hand and body position to see if I could have a positive effect on Sydney's position. I kept my hands low and really encouraged him to reach to the bit with my seat and legs. We did lots of circles, changes of direction, serpentines, and trot work down the long side.
I am finding that the best way to loosen up Sydney's neck and back is to do lots of changes of directions. We've been doing a lot of serpentines over the past week or so, and I find that if I pick up the canter after a few of those, his canter is lighter, and it is easier to move his shoulders.
I am really happy with the work that he is doing for me. He can reach so nicely for the contact when he is relaxed and his canter, both to the left and right, has come a long, long way. We can now easily make the turn at A to go down the centerline and we can even do a three loop serpentine. We'll continue to do what we can to work on suppleness and will hope that he can give me at least half of what he can do at home at his next show.
I am so very glad that I stuck it out with this boy. He is a very nice horse!
I've already mailed in my entry for the HDEC Schooling Show that is on Sunday. Sydney will be making the journey instead of Speedy. Have no fear Speedy fans; Speedy will be doing the two-day USDF show at El Sueno the following weekend.
I've had to think long and hard about how to prepare Sydney for his second showing debut. Nothing good happened at the first debut so I am giving him another chance at a more sparkly entrance into the dressage showing world.
He is now quite happy and relaxed at home and willing to go wherever I send him. His left lead canter is awesome and his right lead canter is not far behind. He is quite happy with a nice, steady contact, but we do need to work on shortening his neck. For Intro and Training Level 1, his level of contact is just fine. He can maintain the trot and canter in the twenty-meter circle, although maintaining the trot at the half circle when tracking right or left at C takes some encouragement and a lot of leg. The same is true as we come up the centerline.
Overall, he is happily demonstrating the requirements of an early Training Level horse. At home. Away from home? I have no idea what I am going to get. The only way to know is to go somewhere else and give it a try.
I never ride through the complete tests with Speedy. Instead, I ride pieces of the test and connect them with other pieces. Speedy is so smart that it wouldn't take him long to figure the tests out on his own while simultaneously working on a plan to foil my best efforts. Sydney's mind doesn't work that way. He wants me to be the leader and is quite happy to follow along with whatever I suggest as long as I genuinely seem to know what I am doing.
In an effort to build Sydney's confidence, and to some extent my own as well, I've started riding the Intro C test from start to finish, but I am doing the whole thing at the trot. My thinking is this: Sydney will be used to working the whole arena at the trot; I will be more familiar with the test; Sydney will be confident that I know where we're going; and I am finding his sticky places.
After I run through the test at the trot, I pick up the canter where we'll need to do it for Intro C, but I canter the circle several times to help balance, and then I turn it into the canter circle for Training Level Test 1 where we do a half circle at E and B.
I don't know if this is a good test prep strategy or not. I don't think it will hurt though as I am feeling better and better prepared. I know for certain that if I feel confident and prepared, it will help Sydney to trust me. If he can keep his focus on me, he'll do just fine.
Working on our teamwork skills (ignore the hideous helmet hair!).
I mentioned the other day that Speedy and I were to have a lesson on Wednesday. Jl hadn't seen him since the week before the HDEC show. At that lesson we worked on straightness, especially coming out of the left lead canter down the long side. For this lesson, I felt that I needed to improve the inside bend. She agreed.
I had been working on the inside bend for the better part of a week; she noticed the improvement right away. Nothing is ever perfect though, so she had some suggestions. First, she liked my opening inside rein. Speedy has gone back to an old trick, however that I wasn't catching. When he doesn't want to bend, or when I am not being vigilant, he tucks his nose down which allows him to duck behind the contact and straighten out of the bend.
Little booger. When I want straightness, he curls around; when I want a bend, he fights to be straight. Grrr ... When I saw what he was doing, I paid a lot more attention to the inside rein, lifting it when I felt him duck under.
The second part to confirming the bend was to be more effective in lifting the outside shoulder. When I felt him bending, JL had me rock the outside rein to lift his front end. I was surprised to hear, More! Huh? Apparently, Speedy can handle a much more assertive outside rein. She was right, of course. Once I firmly rocked the outside rein in rhythm to his stride, he got lighter and quieter. As I was working the outside rein, I had to be aware of maintaining the inside bend, too, without letting him duck behind the contact. Talk about walking and chewing gum at the same time!
Once that was going well, we worked on the 1-loop serpentine. This is a fun exercise that brings together a lot of different skills. JL had me go back to a standard figure 8 so that I could rebalance Speedy in the straight part where the two circle meet. She had me really slow his outside shoulder as we straightened so that I could begin to move him sideways before actually making the next turn. The point of the exercise was to fix any crookedness that he had without letting his shoulder drift out.
Once I had a better feel of the straightness and moving sideways, I returned to the loops of the serpentine. Ah - much better! The trick to getting the new bend is to slow down the outside shoulder (ultimately just a half half), get him moving away my new inside leg, and then establish the new bend. Once we broke it down into those three parts, the serpentine became quite easy!
I really need to find a more entertaining way to write about the progress I am making with my Thoroughbred. Since it has become dull for me to write about how well and fast we are progressing, it must be equally uninspiring to repeatedly read, We Cantered! I obviously need another lesson on him so that we can work on something new.
Repetitive as it may be, it is far more fulfilling (for me at least) to write about our new found success than to feel the need to unburden myself about my old frenemies, Fear and Self-Doubt. I haven't seen those dudes in quite a long time to which I say good riddance anyway! If you're new here, or are only an occasional visitor, Fear is a gigantic elephant who likes to occupy the room or arena in which I am working. Over the past six month, it seems that I have kicked his ass to the curb and the taxi that was there waiting. And Mt. Self-Doubt, while still a geographical feature of my learning field, is slowly eroding and being washed away. I've summited it many times now and find it easier and easier to do.
So, monotonous as it is, we had a lovely right lead canter on Saturday! My rides on Sydney now all begin the same way: one walk lap around the outside of my "dressage court" with my hands planted in my thighs; a variety of circles, half circles, long side work at the trot with my hands still in my thighs; and then we canter. I always canter left first as that direction is very relaxing for Sydney. We spiral in and out, go down the long sides, and finish with another circle or two. I bring him back to a trot where we do a little spiral in and out and maybe a change of direction across the diagonal.
After our work to the left, we track right. Since he's already warmed up, we do some spiral work, and then I ask for the canter. Just two weeks ago, getting a canter that was somewhat in a forward direction might take 5 tries. And before we could even think about cantering, I had to work hard to get him rolled outward so that he wasn't leaning/falling in on my right leg and hand. Only when I thought he was properly balanced would I even try for that right lead canter. Most of the time we weren't successful until the 5th or 6th attempt.
That was before. Before what I am not exactly sure. I suspect it has to do with my deepening understanding of the outside rein. You know when you read, the outside rein controls the bend? those masters really meant it. The outside rein does control the bend. Sydney was falling in at the canter and I was helping him by not using my outside rein to control how much bend he had to the inside. The outside leg also helps by not letting the haunches drift out. So by controlling the bend with the outside rein, and keeping his haunches underneath him, he can now go forward into the canter rather than spin and fall into the canter.
I can read it 1,000 times, but it doesn't make sense until I actually feel it.
On Saturday, it took one request to get a nicely forward trot-to-canter transition. And then, since it was so nice, I decided we were ready to try canter to trot to canter transitions. I couldn't even think about doing those before as just getting one trot to canter transition took all day. I was so pleased with the transitions he did. I can see where we have some work as they weren't as smooth as they need to be, but at least I was able to keep him straight in the departures instead of falling in.
Here's to continued monotony and repetition!
Speedy G can be quite tough to ride. It's not that he's a wild-child or a bucker/spooker (usually), but he's very smart, and he's quiet lazy. Smart plus lazy equals hard to ride well.
Our last few rides have been about me doing all of the carrying and whacking. He's been heavy on the forehand, cue the carrying, and very resistant to moving his haunches, hence the whacking. And for the most part, the straightness we've been pursuing has also eluded us.
Somehow, I must have actually been doing something right over the last few days because it all came together quite nicely on Saturday. I didn't start my ride on Speedy with any particular goal, other than to lighten him up in the canter. I started with riding turns on the forehand and haunches. SInce he was finally moving fairly well off my leg, I ditched the crop.
When I asked him to pick up the trot, it was quite sluggish and his head popped up as he lurched forward. Rats. This again? I brought him back to the walk and shortened my reins by about three feet (until I was practically holding the bit with my hands). I asked for the trot again, but I refused to let him hop into it by flinging his head up. I asked, he stuttered, I asked again, and he finally gave me something that felt right.
It was obvious we needed to sharpen up our walk/trot transitions; I am so glad that I stopped and accurately evaluated what my horse needed right then. We did quite a few walk to trot to almost walk to bigger trot transitions. Within a few minutes I had Speedy working the most "through" he's ever been for me. It was an awesome feeling. I never could get an expressive "lengthening," but I was able to collect and hold him and then release him to a longer working trot. Each time I brought him back down to the most collected trot he could maintain without dropping down to the walk, his working trot got better and better.
When I could feel him completely on my aids, I squeezed him into a very balanced canter. I laughed out loud. He had finally lightened up in front and wasn't pulling me out of the saddle. We circled at A, spiraled in and out, and then went down the long side. We had worked on canter lengthenings a few days ago so he got a bit too forward down the long side which required some pretty strong pulley halts. After a minute or two though, he came back to me as I asked for a half halt as we came to the corner. We were then able to make the circle nicely at C and A.
Christian Schacht had me counter canter as a suppling exercise. It's been tough, but we've been working on that over the last week or so. On Saturday, I was able to keep Speedy in the canter as we made a large tear drop into the counter canter. I can see how this exercise can really supple a horse. I was proud of both of us as we were able to hold the counter canter in both directions, right and left leads.
For those of you who ride at levels far above where we're riding, this is probably pretty boring stuff. I recognize that this is dressage at its most basic, but you have to start somewhere. I know where we started (cruising across the desert for 50 miles at a time); I see how much we've learned in the past three years (introductory and now Training Level); and I can see where we're heading (First Level?). I like the progress we've made. Here's to the next step!
Oh my goodness - what a gigantic AHA moment I had on Sydney on Saturday! Things are really coming together with that horse.
I think I have spent the last three years listening, reading, and watching such a huge volume of stuff that it has taken until now for it to start to come together. It's like I've had all of these puzzle pieces floating around in my brain, some of them connected, but most of them just flipped upside down. Somehow, I must have connected enough of them together that it enabled me to see the picture that was forming, and now, I am grabbing pieces from all over the place and linking them together.
As I was riding Sydney, I really focused on using my inside leg to outside hand. I had just read one of Courtney King-Dye's articles about over using the inside rein. She said, Keep the inside leg honest. A clue that tells you you're not using your inside leg enough happens when you feel like you want to pull your inside rein to the outside. In essence, the inside rein is trying to do the job of the inside leg.
How many times have I heard (or read) that we ride inside leg to outside hand? How many ways are there to explain such a simple concept? Apparently I needed to hear it 1,001 times because all of a sudden, as I was approaching the corner, I added my inside leg and gave a half halt with my outside rein, but this time, I could see/feel/hear/grasp the WHY of that combination of aids. Had anyone driven by at the exact moment, they would have seen an enormous lightbulb flashing over my head.
That was one light bulb moment, but it led almost immediately to another one. I was having one of the best rides I've ever had on Sydney. He was as soft and supple as I know how to get him. He was working over his topline with a really nice swing. When his head popped up, I lengthened my spine, but kept my seat light, and added leg. Back down would come his head and the swing would return. I asked for a left lead canter and was offered a ridiculously soft and uphill effort. It was no nice that for the FIRST TIME EVER, I cantered down the long side. About half way down, Sydney went woohoo, but with a little help from the corner and a strong outside rein, I had him back where I wanted and even rode the next long side at the canter.
I took a short walk break to let Sydney know that he had done a great job. Sometimes these walk breaks backfire because Sydney often thinks it means he's finished. Saturday's ride was no exception. When I asked for some more work, he got very resistant and we lost all of the swing from earlier. He was so naughty that I had to go back to planting my inside hand on my thigh so that I could send him out, out, out with the inside leg while slowing him down with the outside rein.
Once I had him back in some sort of a working mode, I spiraled out at the trot but was having a heck of a time getting any bend. All of a sudden, something Christian said hit me, Give him the inside rein. Suddenly, that statement took on a whole new meaning. JL frequently has me rock or sponge a rein when Sydney is heavy on it. That has always felt like taking the rein from him in a somewhat punitive way. But the idea of giving the rein sounded more like assisting rather than correcting.
So as I rode around with a stiff, unbending horse, I heard Christian softly telling me to give him the inside rein. Yes, give it. Give him the rein. Inside rein, give it to him ... And with that, I realized that by changing my understanding of the purpose of the aid, I was giving my horse a chance to soften and bend and carry himself. It wasn't about taking anything. By rocking the rein and then releasing it, which was giving him the inside rein, I was allowing Sydney the opportunity to find his own balance and bend.
As we continued working, I rocked the inside rein softly, but as I did it, I could feel myself encouraging Sydney to let go and swing. And then I discovered that I was more effectively working both reins: the inside one was giving Sydney the opportunity to soften while the outside rein was saying not any faster. And just like that, I became aware of a new level of feel.
I am probably completely misinterpreting Christian's intent, but I don't care as it helped me shift my understanding of what I am trying to accomplish out there in the dressage court. I much prefer the idea of giving than taking. Sydney gets to go to a lesson today. I am really eager to get JL's feedback. I think she's going to be pleased with what I've done with him since she last saw him.
Here's to more lightbulbs!
The Christian Schacht clinic just keeps giving and giving ...
This has been a long week. Yes, I know it's only Monday; last week and this week are just running into one another making it a VERY long week. Being at the CS clinic last weekend meant that I didn't get my weekend chores finished (laundry, grocery shopping, etc). That meant that I crammed those things into a week that was already jammed to the rafters. I followed that clinic with another weekend out of town. An all day jaunt to Horse Expo and a Sunday afternoon filled with pigging out with friends in front of the TV meant minimal chores done this weekend either. Oh, and I have a show out of town next weekend, too.
All of that is to say that I only rode Speedy at his Monday lesson which wasn't really a problem since I thought he deserved a few days off anyway. Unfortunately, with Expo on Saturday and me just plain needing a morning off from EVERYTHING, he won't be ridden again until tonight. Yikes.
That doesn't mean Sydney got all the riding time either. I took last Tuesday "off" from the barn in order to set things right here at home, at least partially, and to smooth over any rough edges with Hubby that might have been created from so little at home time. I mean really ... three weekends in a row horsing around is asking a lot of even the most tolerant husband. I did ride on Wednesday and Thursday, which is the real reason for this post, but a required trip to the feed store put the kibosh on any saddle time for Friday.
Yeah, yeah, we're all busy. Get ON with it!
Okay. So you've read over and over and over about Sydney's tension and my fear (haven't seen the elephant in a LONG time). Even though I only rode twice this past week, they were GREAT rides! If you haven't been to a clinic, I strongly suggest you search one out. I learned far more than I thought I did, and more importantly, I was able to apply what I learned right away.
When Sydney first starts out at the walk, I try to squeeze him forward into a long and low frame. I am usually pretty successful at it. If he's having a bad day because it's too late for his taste or there's too much after work traffic whizzing by, I can't spend as much time long and low as it's simply better to just go forward at the trot rather to mess with any attempt at bolting.
My mid-week rides were like any other; Sydney was relatively relaxed, but he was looking for a way to be "naughty." Rather than give in to the let's hurry up into the trot, I planted my knuckles near my knees as Dr. Schacht had instructed me to do with Speedy G. At the time, I didn't quite understand the purpose. JL later explained that by planting my hands, I was forced to use only my seat and legs (eliminating that whole over-use of the inside rein thing). There was an added benefit, however. Planting my hands also created a sort of low side reins. Sydney responded so well to the exercise that I almost laughed out loud.
As we warm up, he almost always goes through a head bouncing routine which is very difficult to resist. It makes it very hard to establish steady contact because I just can't keep my hands quiet enough as he's bouncing against them. Eventually, I just shorten the reins and push him forward which usually results in a very heavy horse.
Planting my knuckles into my thighs changed all of that. As Sydney "bounced" his head and neck, all he found was an ungiving bit. It took him all of about 2 minutes to find the release. Once he figured it out, he was long and low and clearly happier. JL has had me focus on keeping my hands low and very quiet. Sydney perceives everything as yelling so I am working very hard to make everything be a whisper. Instead of visibly rocking the rein to get him off my hands or to soften his neck, I am just squeezing my fingers to make a request or a correction. Sometimes this takes longer, but there's less drama involved. Planting my knuckles lowered the volume and forced my hands to remain low. Win, win.
Once Sydney was long and low at the walk, I shortened my reins just a bit but kept my knuckles firmly planted into my thighs. We started on a 20-meter circle, but after just a few times around, I took another page from CS's playbook and asked him to lengthen down the long side and then did a change of direction across the diagonal. We repeated this circle, circle, go big routine for a few minutes with my knuckles still pressed into my thighs.
Once I could really feel some activity from behind, I quietly picked up the reins and shortened them as I asked for a canter. Oh my! It was really nice. We did some spiral in and I was shocked at how small of a circle he was able to do. We spiraled back out and returned to the trot work and again went down the long side. I asked for a small half halt at the corner and laughed out loud when I felt him shift his weight back and collect ever so slightly.
Both days that I rode with these exercises, I was able to get him light in my hand while still moving forward in less than 10 minutes. After a total of 20 minutes, I hopped off and praised him as though we had just won at Aachen. I can't wait to get back on him this week!
The Christian Schacht Clinic is this weekend. I am riding at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday. I am both nervous and excited. I am excited for the obvious reasons: it's a clinic with a well-known trainer whom I have seen before and admire. I am nervous though because Speedy and I are pretty low level riders, and I really
don't want to be embarrassed. We work very hard here at home, but no one else is going to know that. They're simply going to see an aging adult amateur on an average horse struggling with the basics.
It's too late to back out, and I wouldn't anyway. No matter how inexperienced we are, I am going down there as prepared as I can be: my farrier gave Speedy some sparkly new shoes yesterday, we have good fitting tack, and my pony is pretty darn likable. Our performance may not wow
anybody, but I am hoping Speedy's charismatic personality will win them over!
On to the real point of this post. I haven't gone anywhere with the horses since October. Remember the dead battery
from the other weekend? I decided that maybe I better give my trailer a once-over to be sure that it had weathered this cold snap without any surprises.
The first thing I did was fill the water tank and check for leaks. When it all seemed dry, I plugged the trailer in and checked the lights and plugs.
Next up was to make sure that the recently replaced water pump was still working well. The water in the kitchen sink, toilet, and shower all functioned correctly.
The storage area under the kitchen sink was leak free, and the usual supplies were well stocked.
The propane seemed full enough, but if this were a two-night outing I would probably have replaced it. For this quick overnighter, I should be good.
Once all of the "systems" checked out, I started cleaning. First up was the bedroom. I had washed the bedding a few months ago, but before putting it back on, I wanted to give the bed and floor a thorough vacuum.
Bed made, windows opened for some fresh air, and all dead flies and bugs removed!
The bathroom towels were recently laundered, but I gave them a good fluffing and checked for any bad odors. I also wiped down the toilet and shower pan. It gets pretty dusty in there.
Nothing seems to be missing ...
Everything well stocked here.
I actually tossed some items from the junk drawer and then reorganized it a bit. I need to add a new tablet for writing.
This little caddy holds my plastic silverware and napkins.
Pots and pans are in good shape, and I've since added some new paper plates.
I no longer use the refrigerator as the ice chest is much easier and holds more, but I do like to keep fresh water stored here; check! I've also added some Gatorade.
Pass through door and screen were functioning correctly. If I have a horse in that stall, I like to make sure the door's deadbolt is activated so that it doesn't swing open while traveling.
The bench's storage area also got a quick vacuuming and the supplies there also got checked: fire extinguisher, spare boots/chaps, blanket, tool kit, and the trailer's kitchen table (underneath). You can see the tables "leg" in the front of the storage area.
My supplies have been restocked, and it looks ready for an over-night stay.
After I vacuumed the floor, I replaced my large outdoor floor mat and lawn chairs. I also bring an EZ-up if it's going to be hot, but that's stored in my garage. I need to load my generator, but I usually do that on the day I leave as I need to fill it with gas. For a quick one night trip, I'll only run the generator to charge my phone and maybe to watch a DVD on my laptop.
I am pretty sure that I'll be the only out-of-towner at this clinic which means I'll certainly be the only one staying over-night on the grounds. It can be a little intimidating to camp alone, but knowing Speedy is close by always makes me feel less "alone." I always get up in the night to check on him and without exception, he always looks for my arrival. Sometimes I even hang out in his stall with a glass of wine and just visit. I know he enjoys the company as much as I do.
If you're interested in seeing Christian Schacht work, we will be at White Birch Farm, 10680 Broadway Road, Moorpark, California.