So, some updates from Day Two for you! I’ll break it down horse by horse…
It’s been really interesting to manage my expectations with Dee and it was something that I was talking about with Ben at the start of the clinic yesterday. The thing is, literally every question I ask him he’s answering perfectly- it’s just that he’s a little distracted and is finding everything that’s going on pretty interesting. Consequently, I don’t want to get to the place where I’m either drilling him or micro-managing him in an attempt to get his focus; he’s young, green, and has a friend committing to calling him updates from the outside, and I didn’t want to end up inadvertently punishing him for something that I would consider pretty normal for his stage.
The morning session was again groundwork focused and I opted for more rest, less doing. We did a few little “combination moves” at the walk- some yielding, lateral work, etc etc- and then we hung out and watched what everyone else was doing. For the entire end of the session, we played over at the mounting block. The mounting block is somewhat of an anchor point for us. I was really careful in the starting process to make sure he was really solid in the “getting on” phase, and it’s been a great bonus tool to have when he’s out and about where he knows exactly what I want and gets to hang out and relax once he’s ticked the box.
In the afternoon, I jumped on in another first-time ride for us- first time in the indoor, first time in the group. Nadia thought this was a good time to bust out her break-dancing riff (although she was definitely less committed than yesterday) and Dee found that quite compelling. Ben and I talked both agreed that Dee needed to bust a move- to get trotting and working around the arena (forward is his friend and we wanted to use that energy), and so I decided to jump off. At home, if he felt like that, I would do what I needed to do on the ground, and if I choose to do any different in a clinic setting, it would only be my ego talking. So off we jumped, up the back we went and we got our groove on at the walk, trot, and canter. Then, when everyone else had almost wrapped up, I jumped back on and rode around at a walk and trot for five minutes while everyone was standing still.
I felt really pleased with this. It’s a routine we both know, I didn’t compromise either of us, and we ended up in a happy place so yay for that all round.
Unlike Dee, once Nadia was away from the yards, really wasn’t all that interested in what Dee had to say. I almost felt bad for Dee and opted not to tell him when we got back to the yards about Nadia’s lack of commitment to their relationship that morning. Dee himself was starting to get less and less vocal- kind of like when you enthusiastically begin singing the song and then forget the words halfway through.
What I know about Nadia is that she really likes to get things right, she loves to have a job today and she has a great work ethic. We also have our relationship working to the point now that even with concern present, I can ask big questions of her and she will focus her mind on it.
So unlike Dee (who if I had been more insistent would have found it overwhelming at this stage), Nadia responds well to a “let’s do this” attitude, and off we went. I used the forward she naturally has for some trot and canter work, and then we got down to practicing our lateral work.
At home, we have some great things going on of late. We can half-pass, all our turns are pretty sharp; it’s all started to be much more consistent and polished. I found at our Working Equitation Competition that she didn’t quite have the focus to make this happen out and about but not so yesterday. The seeds of anxiety were still there- she was a little tighter than normal- but I couldn’t have asked more of her. It was super fun being able to practice and refine things and to be in a position where we could actually focus on some technical detail because the mental/emotional piece allowed for it.
I’m just finished my coffee now and about to head out the door but thank you also for your amazing comments and messages on my posts the last week. I’m behind on answering but am reading everything and am so appreciative! I’ll be catching up ASAP.