That just has to be an old branding metaphor, doesn't it?
We were thinking a stadium day, but the dust was horrid and the crew
was prepping for a competition this weekend, so we decided to take
Rain back up to the field. She was a little jacked up about the
tractors, beeps, bangs, etc plus some horses coming and going, but
settled down nicely once we got her up on the XC field. She clearly
remembered the space and was cool with it from the start, very relaxed
and obedient. Didn't even fret over the round bales, and while she
gave the bigger XC fences the stink eye she got over it quickly and
without histrionics. A local dressage trainer who has seen her in
lessons last year and the year before was ohhh and ahhhhing over how
nicely she was going, so much steadier and softly connected nowadays.
After a nice long trot and a pair of short canters to loosen her up,
complete with trot lenghtenings and coming back to working trot to
make sure she was in front of my leg but had brakes (plenty of those)
we headed down to the area with the starter jumps. Rain had a nice
soft attitude from the get go.
We started with the same small log trotted both ways, then went across
the jump area to another pair of*** logs and did them on the
slight uphill as a long line. Nonchalant all the way. Next we decided
to challenge her a bit by asking her to do a small palisade which she
had not done the previous school. She gave it the stink eye, had to
trickle to a halt and give it a hard look, before scrambling over. She
was staying nicely straight between my legs and seat, so I just gave
her all the rein in the world so that when she decided to do an untidy
kerfloomp over it I would not catch her. She just needed more time to
assess the question. A small circle and she trotted right over it
quite happily. We went over to the back of the field and went uphill
over a tiny post and rail vertical, which she popped over cheerfully.
Then it was off over a*** log to the rail road tie, U turn and
over the small log--she was confident and remembered the railroad tie
from her first school, no hesitation. Next we did a very small up and
then down bank, which she did without hesitation.
Then it was time to string some things together--Jane sent us off to
do a mini course, all of which she did on her first schooling
Wednesday, but about half of which she had not yet schooled today. We
were to go back down the field and come slightly uphill over the
palisade, bending line to the*** log, to the rail road tie, down
hill to the water (walking fine since it is in quite a dip), then turn
left along the pond and do the stone wall with the log topper, head
down the field and make a U turn and come across the drive and back up
towards the pond over a telephone pole pile and a log, then right turn
and back down through the water and into the main jump area. The plan
was to walk, trot, or canter as she indicated she wanted to do so.
Off we went, walking down so that she could catch her breath, then
coming back up at a nice forward trot, coming handily over the first
three fences with no worries. I broke her back to a small jog with me
sitting on the downhill to the water, and she fell back to walk as she
got close to the edge, but maintained her forward movement with slight
hesitation on in. Walked across, picked back up our trot, and off we
went to the stone wall. She needed me to reinforce her forwardness,
but was brave about it, nice and forward over the telephone pole; that
time she maintained her canter on landing instead of cruising 12
strides and breaking back to trot, so we cantered on down over the fat
log. This second water crossing she jogged down the hill and through
the water, then cantered up the hill and over the wee small log.
I considered stopping there, but Jane had one more thing she wanted us
to do so we added on a finale: up over the double logs going away from
the main area, U turn and canter back along the air strip, come back
to the trot and go down the steep hill, up over the mound and back
down, then head along the causeway along the pond (pond on right,
woods and hillside on left) and over the coop set between two trees.
Lots to look at there.
She cantered over the two logs, was light and fluffy in my hand down
to the mound, was able to maintain her jog and balance over the
dipsidoodle, and then trotted pretty well in front of my leg along the
causeway. The changing color of the footing caught her attention so
much that I had to really point out the coop to her, but she assessed
much better on the fly and trotted over it with a good bold leap.
We called it a good day and took her back to the trailer for cookies
and a bath. Remember when that other person who had a horse in for
training asked Michelle, the lady who did her driving and ground
training, "is that horse ever going to be safe to handle? She's so
dangerous!" And the sad thing is that she was not just an alarmist!
The Mare's Nest