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December 8, 2014: The Day after the Clinic – What Now?

Yesterday, a warm front moved in and decided to stay here for a while as would a very polite guest – the sort of which one hesitates to ask to move. So far, no one seems to be bothered by the fact that the name of this guest is Global Climate Change.

Today was mushy on the verge of slushy. The outdoor chores are a lot easier than they’d be if the temperatures were 20 to 30 F degrees cooler. Even the compost is cooking. We haven’t had to haul any of the manure up behind the hoop house, which takes considerable time and effort.

We got the horses and dogs out – we rode the lower and new trail loops, going the way that’s a bit more hilly. It was a

beautiful ride. I thought the trails would be slippery, but they were not, this was because they were somewhat chewed up from previous rides. It was a beautiful ride, the sun at 1 p.m. was low in the sky, casting long light. What light we have, we use.

As I rode, I pretended like I took rather than audited the de spooking clinic. Of course, I’d be even more fearless and confident if I’d taken the clinic, but conversely, I’d be less fearless and less confident if I hadn’t done it at all. What was most hard for me was my inability to convey to the other riders why I couldn’t ride. I did explain that I didn’t have the money, which is one thing. And I did explain that road conditions make trailering at our end of the world prohibitive at this time of year. I don’t think all bought it – in fact, I think some thought I lacked confidence. This was clearly not the case, though it may have been a few years ago.

Today I tried to put what I committed to memory to practice on the trail. First of all, I kept my head up most of the time. When it went down, Raudi lost her balance and stumbled. So back up went the head. I also worked at keeping my center of balance back when going downhill. This all worked, for we had no runouts today.

I also focused on keeping my eyes soft and looking ahead to where I wanted Raudi to go, keeping in mind that I’m in charge, and because of this, am her eyes. I’m of course not her eyes, but what this means is that she’s looking to me for much needed direction.

We did hear a four-wheeler while out on the trail. Raudi alerted on it. I sat down, firmly in my seat and told her that this was of no consequence. My attitude when out on the trail is incredibly important. I have to keep telling myself that Raudi is now a very experienced trail horse and isn’t going to do anything stupid.

Let’s see – I also kept in mind that the inside rein controls direction and the outside rein controls speed. I also focused on vision-related concerns. Again, if there is something ahead, it is to the horse small and distinct. In passing, it becomes blurred and larger. The horse needs to get past it, and then after, to be kept going. So a bicycle coming uphill from behind would be blurry and large. And if it passed, it would become smaller and more distinct. And if the object is six feet back, Raudi who has a blind spot there, won’t see it all.

I also thought some today about my future. I would like to do a June clinic focusing on the use of obstacles and positive reinforcement. I’d also like to get mounted police training. I don’t want to do crowd control, but would like to prepare others that they can pick up where I leave off. This is because I think that it would be easier on the horses if beforehand they did what I’d call a pre-school clinic. Maybe I can bring back the Headstart program, only this time it would be for equines.

We’ll see. I’m supposed to get together with G.O.B. before he leaves on Thursday, but I don’t know if this will happen. It’s okay if this does not. I will again do the de spooking clinic in July and then take it from there. In the meantime, I have plenty of things to do, and for this reason I will keep myself very occupied.

Next: 328. 12/9/14: Life is Good