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June 14, 2014: Lessons Learned: Up, Up, and Away

Tonight Pete drove Vickie and me to lesson. It’s nice having him along. When in the arena, it’s sort of like running a marathon, and having someone you know on the sidelines, cheering you on.

Beforehand, I walked Rosie around the arena (as I always do), and together we looked to see if anything was different outside or inside the work area. Sure enough, outside, there was a trailer and truck parked right outside the far fence. The truck contained two dogs. And horses were tied to the trailer. There were also horses in the far paddock adjoining the far arena fence.

Inside the arena, the jumps had been reconfigured, as had the ground poles. We walked over and around the poles, and kept our distance from Emily, who was lunging Gracie, the Norwegian Fiord. Rosie, as I walked her, internalized the inside and outside changes that I noticed, and most likely some that I didn’t notice. All this, would be boring, I am sure, to an outside observer. But essential in this case. Rosie doesn’t need to be lunged. Rather, she needs and appreciates it when I take the time and do a leisurely walkabout.

Rosie likes the fact that there are other horses in the arena with us, and also that there are obstacles. Both are a plus as far as group lessons go.

Once I was astride Rosie, we ambled over to Beth, our instructor, and said hello. Beth really likes Rosie. Rosie knows this. I do not know fully how horses perceive things – most likely it’s a combination of tone of voice, facial expression, body position, and perhaps, some words. Beth smiles and speaks softly around Rosie, and of course when she says kind things, I relax further. The effect is synergistic – positive energy creating an ongoing Mobius strip. This time Beth called Rosie an overachiever – a form of high praise, meaning that she’s doing really well in her lessons.

Once the six of us were in the arena, we got down to work. We mainly followed one another over poles and cavalettis at the walk and trot. Rosie, Beth said, was “dead on,” later adding that she was no longer one of the “naughty horses.” This, of course, made me and Rosie feel really good.

Next came the addition of jumps. Rosie did one jump well, but then when it came to the addition of the second jump she refused it a few times. I think that both she and I were getting tired. So, after (finally) getting it right, Beth rightly said that it was time for us to quit.

Unbeknownst to me, Pete all along was making videos of our performance. I looked at them after the lesson was over. The dozen or so were revelatory. What I perceived to be and what was recorded were two different things.

I really had no idea that in going over the poles that Rosie was extending herself so nicely. Nor did I realize that she was slowing down and calculating how she might deal with the upcoming jumps. And I was surprised to see that she’s so small. When I’m on her, she feels like a big horse.

I walked Rosie a bit after our lesson, and then I tied her up, so that she could eat some more out of state hay. Finally, we loaded up and headed home.

“So how did the lesson go?” Pete asked.

“Fine, just fine,” I said.

Next: 164. 6/15/14: Lessons Learned: Competitive Trail Riding Clinic