Three times in less than twenty four hours I've been very, very lucky. Last night, in a pouring rainstorm, I narrowly avoided squashing the most humongous snapping turtle ever - over two feet long I reckon. The driver behind saw him just in time as well. I stopped the car, found a suitably long stick and shepherded (prodded) him the rest of the way across the road. He was less than appreciative.
This morning on my way up the road to exchange the needle hay, two puppies chased each other right in front of my truck (towing the horse trailer). I locked up the wheels, managed to stop, and the pups arrived safely on the other side. They never even saw me.
This evening at dusk, I was once again in the front of a line of traffic when two deer ambled across the highway. I was going 65 mph (at least). Somehow in the dim light I saw the deer, slowed down and signaled the other drivers behind me by flashing my brights. Third time's a charm :)
Since the feed store is not that far from my trainer, I swung by her farm on my way home today, and got a lesson. I haven't been able to get out of town for a lesson since a clinic I did with her in late November. Either weather, finances or both have prevented me from making the trip off island (three plus hours).
Today was well worth the wait. First of all, I haven't ridden another horse besides my own in about a year and a half. (Valentino - I cheated on you!) I got to work with Bud, a statuesque 17.3 saddlebred schoolhorse. What a treat. :) Bud is a total clown. He loves to show off his (way more than adequate) neck by reaching over the stall divider and drinking from his neighbors automatic waterer, all the while checking out of the corner of his eye to make sure you notice his trick - I mean talent.
We worked exclusively on contact, specifically on my getting the feel of contact. Bud is a great choice for this work, as he needs a lot of help keeping his neck stable, and will either be above the bit with a stiff high neck, or diving, unless you provide him with even, steady, elastic contact through your elbows. You have to have a soft following but steady two sided contact for him to move well and work over his back. It was a struggle, but we did have some very nice work.
My trainer reminded me that it's not enough to stay out of the way / not interfere with the horse. And it's not enough to be neutral. I have to be active in the sense of figuring out what the best way to help my horse is, and how to respond to the feedback he is giving me in a timely manner. My legs tell him to go, and the contact gives him a place to go to. Oh - and ride both sides of the horse.
I realize now that in my work with Val, I must shorten the reins, and increase the contact. Our driving has improved, but he needs somewhere to reach to. That's my job :)
|Almost - wait for it...|
|And we have contact :)|
|Love that Bud man|