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May 10, 2014: Horse Sense: Moving Forward, Incrementally

Nancy W.D. has spent the past few days here. Her husband Terri has been attending a meeting in Girdwood. We’ve had a wonderful time together. Nancy and I have a lot in common; however, the glue holding our friendship together is our love and interest in Icelandic horses.

I knew that Nancy was an excellent trainer and rider. I saw this five years back, when we were at the Icelandic horse farm. She rode in the top group and did extremely well. Even then she had a light hand and a solid seat.

Nancy on Raudi

I’d been looking forward to Nancy’s riding Raudi, and she did not disappoint. Raudi needed what Raudi got these past few days – which is a rider who’d be firm and fair. Lucky me, I got to observe this very thing.

My assessment, after watching Nancy Ride Raudi on the trail and in lesson, is that Raudi is more willful and opinionated than I’d previously realized. Thus, it is amazing that we’ve come as far together as we have. Always, on my part, desire has trumped a lack of confidence in dealing with Raudi. This is because I love her. If I didn’t love her, I would not be concerned about bringing out the best in her.

Nancy first rode Raudi around the loop and then on the lower trails – Jerri accompanied her on Lifre. Raudi at first fought with Nancy – she would not trot when asked – rather she paced. And she swished her tail. But Nancy got her to behave by repeatedly having her do as she asked.

Nancy next rode Raudi in a lesson. Again Raudi tested Nancy. At the same time, Raudi had some genuine concerns. She wasn’t wanting to pass the sprinkler or the water spurting out of the hose in the arena. And she may have been bothered by the fact that there were dark and light patches on the ground – sprinkler water spots. Nancy let Raudi know that she must deal, and so Raudi dealt. Raudi did okay going over the cavalletis, and she cantered when she was asked to canter. However, she did refuse a jump or two.

Pete and I ended up taking Nancy on a fairly rigorous trail ride. We started out by going up Pete’s new trail, which is uphill and has several twists and turns, and in addition, steep sections. Raudi did some grass diving early on, but less of this as the trek progressed. She picked her way carefully up the trail, and remained unconcerned by Hrimmi’s antics. The way down was a bit treacherous, but horse and rider did just fine together.

After all the above, Nancy was kind in her comments about Raudi, surmising that yes, she was testing Nancy. I didn’t have the heart to tell Nancy that Raudi wasn’t really testing her; rather, she’s a born knucklehead.

The most amazing thing of all is that, of late, I’ve been feeling good about riding Raudi. Now, after seeing Nancy ride her, my level of confidence has gone up an additional notch. My ground level vantage point was quite revelatory in that this enabled me to step back and see what I might not otherwise have seen.

I’m now looking forward to Tuesday’s lesson. I’ll have Nancy watch me ride Raudi, and perhaps offer suggestions as to what I might do differently.

I have been (unbeknownst to me) moving forward with Raudi since the day I got her. I have not always seen our progress because it’s been so incremental. Right now we are moving forward a bit more quickly, which is more than gratifying. And there are many more years ahead for us both.

Next: 130. 5/11/14: With Friends