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May 15, 2015: Moving Forward, Big Time

I have, for a long, long time, bemoaned the fact that I have not been moving forward with Raudi, that we are stuck, stuck, stuck, stuck on the equitation front.

There is so much that I know in theory but have not been able to put into practice on this front. This is very basic stuff, mostly equitation related. It recently occurred to me that I could not progress with jumping unless I acquired additionally foundational knowledge. For example, Raudi’s refusing jumps is due to the fact that I am not properly balanced in the saddle. She’s an honest horse, and so in this respect I have

been doing her a disservice. So I decided a few weeks ago to bypass taking lessons until I am more jumping-centered. I felt (and still feel) really bad about this because I really enjoyed worked with Beth. She’s an excellent instructor, and one of the most positive people I have ever met.

There were a few drawbacks in taking lessons at her place, one being that anyone who showed up could attend her Tuesday and Friday evening classes, which added a certain element of unpredictability to the evening. I liked it last year, when I was in the beginner class with Blaine and Brandon. But they seem to have decided to take lessons elsewhere. So Raudi and I had to be a part of the advanced class which wasn’t working out.

My perceptual problems were also a safety-related detriment. For one thing, I have no depth perception, so I had a hard time gauging the distance between me and the other riders. And, as I learned this week, I have moderate hearing loss. I will, in the near future, get a hearing aid, but perhaps not before the end of the outdoor lesson season.

A few weeks ago I told Claudia Sihler about my lesson-related dilemma, and right away she put me in touch with June Snyder, who has taken many of her dog training classes and is now teaching at Claudia’s place. June is also the human resources person at Far Country Animal Veterinary clinic, where we took Ryder when Hrimmi kicked her in the nose and Rainbow, when she sliced her abdomen open.

June and I began conversing via email. We tried connecting on the phone, but that didn’t work – we are both busy animal people. She came over today. I immediately recognized her – her springer spaniel was the one who pooped on the floor during the Good Citizenship dog training class. She and I immediately hit it off – it was instantaneous. I gave her the property tour, and as I did this introduced her to all the animals. All the critters liked her, but Jenna, Tinni, and Hrimmi really thought June was something special. This, I thought, is a woman who really connects with animals. This isn’t so of the garden people, who tend to shy away from them.

After a bit we began grooming Tinni, and during this time began telling one another our respective horsey stories. I then learned that June has a very impressive animal background – she has ridden and trained upper level dressage horses – and as I soon began to suspect, is quite good at this.

Earlier, I’d set up a partial agility course and was going to work with Raudi. Since June was here, I asked her if she’d like to do this with me. She said yes, and so for the next hour and a half, we first worked with Raudi and then worked with Hrimmi.

It was nice having an agility partner. June is extremely astute and watchful – she immediately noticed that I was holding Raudi’s lead too tight – something that is actually frowned upon in doing agility. She also noticed that I wasn’t walking in unison with Raudi, and suggested some ways in which I might better do this. Coincidently, this is something that Vanessa Bell, the founder of the online horse agility program advocates in her three minute horsemanship book.

Working with Hrimmi was the most challenging – as June later said, she does know how to distract me. So we worked on her walking with me in unison, over a ground pole, and around the various obstacles that I’d previously set up. We did as Beth would do if her focus was on ground training, and we quit while we were ahead. And most importantly, we rewarded Hrimmi for a job well done. This was before putting a tarp and a lawn chair on her back, and wrapping her in caution flagging.

June will return on June 6th, that is when I get back from my travels down in America – and we will then continue what we started doing today.

Additionally, today – the Alaska Dressage Association has agreed to sign on to the Centered Riding Clinic – I can use the name of the organization in applying for United States Dressage Federation Funding. This does not insure that we’ll get funding. But it does insure that we’ll get participants, since there are a lot of dressage riders locally.

After, Pete and I took all three dogs and Raudi and Hrimmi up to the bench and then back down. We all had a wonderful time -- when good things happen, they tend to happen in bunches.

Next: 129. 5/16/15: Attentive, not Reactive

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