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September 20, 2014: Lessons Learned: The Importance of Persistence

Last night’s lesson was at the Sindorf Center. As I was putting Raudi in the crossties, I had an amazing realization. This was that there was a time, not so long ago, when I hoped, but did not believe that I’d ever ride her in an arena, and most certainly, not in his upscale facility. It was like the Sindorf Center was the gold ring in the merry-go-round – something that I’d grab at in passing, but always remained out of my grasp.

The Sindorf Ceter was built and opened in 2005, when Raudi was a yearling. Those who were instrumental in seeing the place built were boarding at Katie and Bill Long’s Moose Creek Ranch. I was at first a lowly pen cleaner at the Long’s.

Alys and Raudi checking out the Sindorf Center

Then, after I acquired Raudi, an oddity, for I owned what one called “that little orange pony.”

Most now board at the place that they established. Raudi and I now have taken some lessons there. And still, we don’t merit a second glance. This is because she’s calm and pony-like in appearance, this as opposed to the other, more fractious and larger horses.

I do not care at all what they think because I know now, as I knew then, know that Raudi is a very special horse. She always has been, and always will remain (at least in my estimation) the greatest horse that ever lived. And as importantly, as last night demonstrated, I know just how far we’ve come. It has taken me ten years to get us both to the point where we now are – that is able to do serious work in an arena setting.

And how did we get to where we are now? The answer is that I have remained persistent. I am not a horse trainer, and don’t have the desire to be one. But I am an individual who some time ago committed herself to training this particular horses. I have done this by being persistent.

Last night’s lesson is a case in point. We began with my putting Raudi in cross ties, and tacking her up, stopping to tell a woman sweeping the floor that no, Raudi would not be bothered if she swept around her. I then led her into the arena – we went both ways and then again went both ways, this time doing circles. I then had her turn on the forehand and haunches left and right, and also sidepass left and right.

I next led Raudi over to the mounting block. As I was positioning her to get on, she raced off. Oh oh. Beth, who was setting up jumps, grabbed her. I of course hopped that this would not be a sign of things to come, her being an idiot during the duration of the lesson.

It was not our best lesson in terms of Raudi’s attitude. But she did behave well enough for us to accomplish a great deal. It would have been otherwise a year ago.

Beth had Emily, Cath and me first work on turning on the forehand. I’d had a difficult time in the past, doing this on her back. But this time I understood the directives and was able to carry them out. I was to have Raudi stand parallel to the arena wall, put my inside leg back behind her girth, my outside leg on her middle, tighten my inside rein, loosen my outside rein, and give her a nudge with my outside leg. Raudi did as asked, which was hold her front legs still and pivot on her rear legs to the opposite side of the wall. We began doing this, and trotting off the far side arena wall.

We next worked on leg yields, a movement that I’ve been wanting to do for some time. Beth’s directives were again quite clear. We were to individually come down the quarter line of the arena, and at Y, one third of the way across, look to the left side, hold both reins to the right, put the outside leg behind the girth, and shift our seats to the right. The horse, we were told, should move both front and rear legs crosswise. Raudi and I didn’t get this immediately – but we did get it. Then, when doing it on the far wall, everything fell into place.

We next did leg yields and canter departures, the latter being going from a walk or trot into a canter. Raudi repeatedly picked up the wrong lead until I did as Beth suggested, which was reversed the position of my legs after doing the leg yield, in this case moving my outside or left leg forward and my inside or right leg back. When I did this, Raudi indeed picked up the correct lead.

I was able to internalize all of the above because the directives were given in a very concise and understandable fashion. It was like I who had the pieces of the puzzle in hand had finally laid them on the board.

Jumping followed equitation. This portion of our lesson didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I think that by this point in time, Raudi and I were both hot and tired. She was erratic – refused the second cross jump several times. Still, our final jump was our best. She jumped really high and with considerable vigor. It was a good time then, to call it good, which we did.

After lesson, I noticed that when in the cross ties, Raudi stood with both her rear legs crossed. I am thinking that her attitude – today a bit lackluster, was the result of her maybe being tight or sore in the sacral region of her back. So I did some body work.

Overall, I was pleased with how the lesson went because quite obviously, Raudi and I did work together, and in the process figured out a few more things. This, I can attribute to the importance of being persistent.

Next: 252. 9/21/14: Climate Change, So What?