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I finally got to do a stadium jumping clinic with Brian Sabo! I rode with him once a zillion years ago with Whisper, and I really loved the way he taught. I was having some confidence issues in, on, and about poor Monty and I wanted another point of view. Sometimes you just get to a point with your coach/trainer where you realize she’s said the same thing a thousand times, and you’ve tried to do it a thousand times, and for some reason, it just isn’t sinking in. In my case it was two instructors: Jeanette with whom I ride twice a week, and Tracey Lert, the dressage clinician I ride with weekly. I was stuck.
To get myself “unstuck” and back to jumping, which I had kindof begun to avoid, I didn’t just sign up for a clinic, I signed up to trailer by myself with my new truck and trailer to the Horsepark in Woodside two days in a row! Wow, was it a list of firsts. I’ve hauled horses before, but in a different truck with borrowed trailers. This was shiny! and new! and very intimidating. I made Rob take Thursday off from work and come with me for the first day. I had practiced loading the boys the week before: Whisper was perfect as usual, Monty was less-than perfect, but good. I packed up that morning, let Monty roll and run around, then got ready to load. I’d scheduled “load horse” from noon until 1pm. Monty was loaded into the trailer, munching on hay, at 12:01. It took about an hour to get to the park, which wound up putting me nearly two hours ahead of schedule. Rob had a headache, so he tested out napping in the back seat of the truck while I attempted to turn “pigpen the horse” into “Monty the shiny”. I did not succeed, and somebody‘s getting an equine vacuum sooner rather than later. Not only does Monty LOVEloveLOVE to roll, he HATES being brushed. The weather was cold and very windy, and Monty did a very good job being all alone while we waited.
When my private clinic starts, I explain what I’m having trouble with. Monty proceeds to demonstrate every reason why we have issues: head tossing, bucking, and general hysterics after the jump. Brian was very complimentary about my dressage/flat work, my seat, depth of thigh, and following elbows (which do not follow at all when I’m doing dressage. *sigh*). We worked on getting Monty in front of my leg, creating the balance I need for the jump, and maintaining that balance. We also somehow got me sitting in a way that really allowed me to give a wonderful following automatic release that Monty was extremely appreciative of. We ended up making progress, and that was good.
I got him home, got myself home, ate dinner, and felt like crap. Around midnight I decided to take my temperature: 100 degrees. Great, I have a sore throat and a fever!
Somehow I managed to sleep. The next day I kept having flashbacks to the time Sheri and I took Whisper and Pi over to Ram Tap in Fresno for a hunter pace. I’d had a nasty sore throat and no sleep and then drove my first long haul with the horses. We had a good time on that trip.
I got myself up, dressed, and to the barn. Let Monty roll and ran him around, loaded him right up and made it to the park with only an hour to kill. The weather was better: less wind. I took a picture:
On day two Monty was a bit more cooperative, and we showed that we can learn a few new tricks. I’m pretty sure Monty was happy because I was finally riding him to the jump the way he was used to being ridden. I was finally doing it right! We were doing a combination, and on the second element I tried my very best to be as light as possible in the reins I wouldn’t be yanking on him in the landing because I’d finally internalized the need to ride him forward through his tantrums, and I had him in balance and in front of my leg, he cocked on ear back at me and I really got the feeling he was thinking: hey, maybe you don’t suck! He was cooperative and beautiful through the rest of the course. Monty really showed off what a nice horse he can be, and Brian said he liked him. I then proceeded to apologize [point out] for how dirty the poor horse was. I can really take a compliment.
This clinic has been great for my confidence, and my riding is once again improving! Monty was a jerk for my Monday night dressage lesson, and I stepped up and made him behave! Then Tuesday we went for a trail ride, and he acted like a normal horse! Lookout goals, dreams and ambitions: I’m back on track.