Thursday, 15 August 2019

ICYMI: Some Happy Things

Things are still a bit chaotic around here, so no real updates from me. The horses are happy and well, of news is good news :)

Proof of life. Also, not starving :)
 I thought I'd take a moment to share a few blog posts I've really enjoyed in the past bit. They serve as a really great counterpoint to all the negative news in the equestrian world of late. Get ready to smile!

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken - Fraidy Cat Eventing. Emma and Charlie are inspiration and goals for everyone. Not only do they have a great partnership, it seems like not that long ago he was baby bronto-smashing crossrails. Check out the pictures now! 

TSC Dressage Show: First Level Debut - Two and A Half Horses. How impressive are these two? Cathryn's brought Annie along from green been to solid all around horse (check out their tail riding and jumping posts too!) and I'm always inspired because her equestrian life pretty closely mirrors mine in that we both live in pretty isolated communities  - I know how hard it can be to get everything from vet to hay to training. She's beyond dedicated!

Rated Second: Here We Come - Cob Jockey. Another awesome pair. They're going out and doing the thing and crushing goals, despite setbacks and Jen's hectic schedule.

EmTee Eventures. Just a vlog channel with some besties out eventing in the British countryside. I won't lie, being the grumpy human I can be some days the positive energy from these two is TOO much for me, but they're guaranteed to make you smile.

LWilliams got married! and the pictures are fantastic.

Liz Stout is living the dream, building a new barn and moving her horses home. Check out the progress photos, so cool. Also, her most recent ride recap is fantastic and goals for all of us.

Madigan's First Show. If anyone deserves to have a fantastic baby horse, it's Stephanie.

I'll stop here. I'm not intentionally leaving anyone out, but realistically if I include everyone's posts I've been inspired by even in the last month or two, we'd be here a very, very long time. Originally, I was going to include some articles on mindset and some accomplishments of some real life friends, but we'll stick to you guys, otherwise I'd be writing a novel :)

We'll finish with another ferry scene from last night, for Lytha


Friday, 9 August 2019

If It Helps

In the spirit of Emma's What are we doing about it? post today, here is my small contribution. This might not change anyone's mind, but I'll put it out there anyway, just in case.

Recently, I was discussing how I am a bit of an insomniac and can have quite a bit of trouble sleeping. My husband was tossing out ideas to help and I was like "well you know I think it's because when I was a kid, at night when I was sleeping was when he said he was going to kill me."

Apparently, I tossed that out like it's a perfectly normal thing. Even all these years later.

I did not have a happy childhood. I had an immediate family member with a pretty severe mental illness that resulted in a lot of ups and downs. You really never knew what you were going to get, or even if it was based on an event that actually happened. The bad days were more frequent than the good.

As with all things mental illness at the time, you didn't talk about it. The clues were there for teachers and other adults to see, and looking back it was probably common knowledge. Some tried to intervene but the tools to do something about it were not there.

On the even sadder side, along with the good people trying to help, there are a lot of not so good people out there who are also really good at identifying children who are vulnerable.

The thing I really want to emphasize and think is very important for people to consider is that as a kid I knew I was often unhappy, scared, angry, even suicidal. But if you asked me why, I would have never been able to tell you, because I didn't know what was wrong.

Without any other context, I thought my life was normal. I was sure that my friends with seemingly happy lives were just extra good at hiding things and thought I just needed to be tougher or better to be like them. I thought there was something very wrong with me to be so anxious and unhappy. A direct question asking whether everything was ok at home would have been met with an "It's fine" from me.

It would have never occurred to me that I had any rights, or that I mattered to anyone. I had zero idea about what behaviour in adults was acceptable and what wasn't. I had no clue this wasn't simply my cross to bear for being a bad person. I might have even argued with you if you offered the opinion that things at home weren't safe or acceptable. I truly believed it was all normal.

I was a pretty smart kid in many ways - I managed to look after myself and get honor roll grades throughout school. But still, I DID NOT have the tools or maturity to understand much of what was going on in the adult world or how to deal with it.

I'm not writing this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I AM writing it in the hopes you might consider taking a stronger stance in supporting education and  legislation, (and yes, things like SafeSport) to help provide minors (or really anyone who needs help) with options and rights and positive experiences. Discuss mental illness freely and don't stigmatize it - it is a disease like any other. Consider that sometimes victims might not know they were a victim until well after the fact. Consider that those who said nothing at the time may have simply not had the knowledge, tools, or support to do so.

Lastly, just try to listen and be kind. It matters.

Thank you.


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Time Out

Just a quick check in. This seems to be the summer of unpredictable things happening and as a result, my riding time and carefully laid plans have suffered.

Short quiet hacks around the neighbourhood are the best I can do right now, and are the best part of my day!
I'll straight up admit I used to be one of those people who believed if you want something bad enough you'll find time for it. Generally speaking I do find that to be true, but this month, not so much...I simply can't prioritize riding right now due to some family things and some unexpected emergencies at my work.

It's a case of nothing really going right, suddenly and all at once! Not to mention just keeping up with the day to day horse chores where I board is more time consuming and difficult in the summer (The summer fields are typically far from a water tap, plus picking poo out of long grass is...frustrating). My saddle is broken and had to be sent back to the manufacturere for repairs, so that puts a damper on things too. Being the proactive person I am, I'm researching plans and building and zoning bylaws to build a barn at home to keep things simpler, also I'm perusing the job ads hard. But, of course that also has been adding time and stress.

At least both ponies are looking great!

I promise, I'm not whining. I'm lucky to have the life I do. But for my own sanity, I'm just going to get the horses out when I can for the remainder of the month and not stress too hard about it. I've extended my summer schedule through September and my plan is to return to 5-6 day a week rides and outings then. My goals remain the same and I want to be back to lessons and showing next spring, hopefully with Sophie.

Add mane pulling to my to do list :)

I feel like this has been the most boring blog ever lately, but I have to ask you to bear with me a little further, while we take a small break to organize and regroup.

See you soon!

Friday, 2 August 2019

A Bedtime Story

When we last visited our favorite princess pony she was in the grip of an evil spell. Her Prince Charming had betrayed her and put her under his control. Winter had overtaken the land, and there was much sorrow.

Thankfully, there was still hope shining on the horizon.

In the nick of time, our intrepid blogger rescued the princess and separated her from her not so charming prince. Despite his best efforts to keep her under his spell, the distance was too great and by the very next day she forgot his charms. Happiness and calm reigned once more, and peace returned to the farm.

Even Mother Nature rejoiced, as the rains receded, summer resumed, and the pasture lands were restored to the ponies.

And everyone lived happily ever after. The end :)


Thursday, 1 August 2019


We're currently experiencing a crazy amount of rain! I'm actually a weird person who likes rain, so I don't mind at all, especially given how dry it's been and all the associated water shortages and fire danger that goes with that.

The horses seem to be loving it too and last I checked were still standing out there getting pressure washed by mother nature.

Sophie had a rather large amount of burrs in her forelock this afternoon, so I thought I'd be a good owner and get some detangler on that and give her her daily vitamins and minerals at the same time.

Pictures obviously not from today - unless you have underwater gear its not camera or phone appropriate weather out there.

Except, sorry T, that is the wrong thing to do according to Miss Sophie. You see, she still can.not.function if she's not immediately next to and in sight of her boyfriend. He loses his mind, she loses hers.

I know, I know, this could be a great learning opportunity. But, well, I was kind of just over it. So, off we went and I tied her at the barn to groom her rather than mess around with a frantic pony on the loose in her paddock. And the screaming and dramatics were pretty intense. Interestingly, her boyfriend is actually the worse of the two, but she's a bit of a drama queen and feeds off whatever energy is around her so she's guilty of playing the part of silly herdbound horse too!

Not sure what was so interesting about the wall :)

It's no excuse, but I'd had a tough day until that point and was rapidly losing patience with the screaming and dancing around. Normally, I'm very patient, but not so much today. Of course, see above about S feeding off whatever energy is available... so mine was only making it worse. At that point, the barn owner's husband came to chat. He's a mechanic and I have an old car and truck, and so we got to looking at my car and planning the remaining work on the truck and generally chatting.....

And, about an hour later I was like "Oh sh*t! I'm the worst horse person ever, I walked away and forgot I left my horse tied out in the rain! Gotta go!"

It was suspiciously quiet, and since S was historically fairly good at breaking ties and halters when I got her (now she just unties herself - small win?), I assumed she'd got loose and was probably visiting her boyfriend.

But, when I walked out of the shop to look,  Sophie was quietly standing at the rail, right where I left her, one leg cocked, dozing in the rain.

Kind of like this, but wet.

Lesson of the day: Walking away and ignoring your horse isn't a bad thing, sometimes. Probably don't forget them out in the rain if you can help it though.

Lesson 2 of the day: Sometimes you need to give yourself an easy win. Instead of putting Sophie back in her paddock, I moved her to a different one away from her lover. Yes, she needs to learn to be less herdbound, but so does he and maybe having the two of them next to each other just isn't fair at this point in time. She's back next to the minis and the old draft horse, none of which she's particularly fond of, and that's maybe just what everyone's sanity needs right now.

S was upset to find that she's not able to hang out with her friend anymore and some frustration was expressed over that. Hormones are hard. She settled down after a bit though, and I am hopeful that my next visit to the barn will be peaceful!

Last week. I put her next to her buddy 5 days ago and I can see shes lost weight since this picture. She was too obsessed over him to eat her hay. So crazy.

I put Bridget next to S's lover, so he still has a friend to obsess over. Of course, Bridget doesn't care about that, so it's all good.

I know from reading your blogs that some of you have similar horsey pairs that it's best to not trailer or stable with. It's interesting how the dynamics work. S is very brave and calm with me alone or with Bridget or another quiet horse, but the insecure, high energy buddy was definitely not doing her any favors!

Fingers crossed we'll get back on track this weekend. I think a part of the recent pony drama is that I have been busy and Sophie is the kind of pony who will do best with a regular schedule and plenty to keep her busy. Once she's under saddle, that will be a bit easier to accomplish.

A final misty picture from yesterdays ferry ride, just for Lytha


Sunday, 28 July 2019

The Marey-est of Them All

Mirror, mirror...who is the marey-est of them all?
It's not a secret that I'm no fan of screaming horses. So, maybe it shouldn't surprise you that I'm also not much of a fan of mare drama.

 Don't get me wrong, I like mares. I might even prefer them to geldings. But the hormonal, peeing everywhere, screeching, kicking, can't function because a gelding looked at them kind? I've always been grateful I don't own one of those.

And, once again the universe laughs at me, because Sophie is all that, plus the high pitched screaming. I've been trying to pretend its not real, or just a passing phase, but yeah, she's pretty darn emotional.

Today was a bit of a struggle for us both. I moved her to a field with more grass this morning. She realized she had a cute neighbour gelding half a second later, and was in raging heat half a second after that. Such joy.


I returned later in the afternoon to ride Bridget and take Sophie for an outing, and by then Sophie was in full on obsessive gelding stalker mode. Also, covered in pee, because that's cute.

Dramatic reenactment of creepy stalking, post outing (The sweaty saddle marks give it away)

She could.not stand tied out of his sight. She screamed incessantly. He returned the screaming. It took me about 30 minutes to groom and tack her up because we needed frequent groundwork breaks to get her focus back on me and her immediate surroundings.

Looking good, tho. Just need a brain install and she'll be pretty decent ;)

Off we ventured down the road. I opted to bring the longe line and just go to the arena - it seemed a good idea to give her a job and burn off some off the feelings.

She started out ok on the longe, then realized it felt like work and decided to try opting out. Then she had to work harder and got sweaty, and apparently being sweaty is very, very NOT OK when you are a princess and a cute guy is waiting for you at home.

I actually had to be a bit tough on her which honestly I find difficult to do. I tend to be on the too encouraging/easy side of the spectrum, and so there came a time with Bridget when she was quite willing to give me the tiniest effort and think that was more than adequate :) I'd like to avoid that with Sophie, so I'm trying to keep the expectations very consistent. ie her feelings or our surroundings on any given day don't get to be an excuse to compromise on effort or focus.

And so, we worked hard. There was rearing, there was kicking. There was bolting. There was basically every action she could think of to make it clear to me she had other, more important things on her mind. Too bad I'm the most important thing she needs to worry about ;) Long story short, I had to be tough and we got to a good place. Princess Mare was totally tuned in to me, new boyfriend forgotten.

The walk home was silent. It was quite peaceful and enjoyable, actually.

Untacking was also quiet, easy, peaceful. Princess Pony, Ruler of Mares, was gone as if she never existed.

The good thing is that she's quite young, so I can hope challenges like today's will be a good education for daily life in a busier barn or at shows where she'll have different trailer mates and neighbours. Crossing fingers hard the dramatics get less as she gains life experience and I do my best to be calm and consistent.

I ran out of time, so Bridget will have to wait for another day. I'm pretty sure she's OK with that :)

Bridget's face, watching Sophie be ridiculous. She's not a fan, it disturbs her grazing serenity ;)


Friday, 26 July 2019

Busy, Busy

I don't know what gives, but I've been on my own mini emotional struggle bus the past week or so. It's come at a bad time too, because someone close to me experienced very sad loss and so I want to be strong and supportive, not falling apart!

The great thing about horses is that they're pretty undemanding - especially when summer pasture is available as a distraction. The really cool thing about my horses is they know me well enough that I can show up to the barn happy or sad and towing along whatever baggage I've got from the day and they're  both very forgiving of that. I know its unfair to bring that to them, but I'm not a perfect human and they seem willing enough to help me out a little :)

Love this pony.

Circumstances have necessitated a week off riding and adventuring, which just couldn't be helped. Bridget of course didn't mind at all, poor Sophie is feeling pretty needy and looking for attention, though. I've been giving her as many scratches as I have time for, and of course she's out in a bigger field so she has plenty of room to wander and things to nibble on. She's been doing her best to follow me out the gate every day though and been devoting a lot of time to "helping" me clean her field, so I think she's a bit bored.

Watching G leave. She whinnies for him when he leaves. It's pretty sad, but it's working in her favour  because he's a softie and can't help but like her when she's so obviously loving him :)

Bridget and I snuck out for a ride tonight (Friday), which was wonderful. It's been really hot, but we caught a bit of a rain storm and everything just felt so fresh and cool. The forest smelled so green and amazing and B was SO happy to be out. A very much needed outing for the both of us, I think. I'm so lucky to have the horses I do. They're so people oriented and I think they both enjoy heading out for adventures even when their main human isn't necessarily feeling 100%.

I accidentally bought the pink SWAT so now she has fluorescent pink spots on her face. Better than flies, tho :)

B was feeling pretty lively, so we made a stop at the club grounds on our way home and played with some pseudo dressage moves. She's not fit or strong enough to ask for it to be perfect or really super connected, but we find fun in the work and I'd like to think some of it is still respectable. We played with haunches in and spirals in the canter, and used that to get a nice balanced canter to walk transition. B was feeling quite spicy and leaping back up into canter as we spiralled back out, and I just let it happen because why not - she's not pushy about it and was just having fun (I think she had barrel racing on her mind, since that's what we did on our last visit!). I got a few strides of passage-y trot, which fell apart when I tried to let it out forward again too sharply and let the power out the front. B is not that strong anymore, and my timing is off, and that's OK. We have fun and I'd like to think it's great practice for me riding Sophie  :)

Looking very golden and shiny, despite a week of grooming neglect. Also suddenly looking more mature!

On a related note, I brought my eventing vest home with me...because Sophie's been coming along so well and I can actually imagine getting on the banana pony at some point this summer. Not saying it will happen in the very near future, but at least now I've got the vest ready, just in case ;) I like the idea of really lightly backing her this fall,  then small trail adventures over the winter. I'd love to take her to a couple of small shows next summer as a four year old, but even with that she's still got growing to do and waiting until late winter/early spring to start her properly won't hurt anything. Maybe we wait even more and her first show is as a five year old, that's fine too!

I know the fences in this field look a bit haphazard...they are a little ugly because this used to be the garden and I think deer proof was the priority at the time. It's safe though, just not pretty. There is electric to keep her off it as well.

I'm not sure I'll get another ride in this weekend. I'm busy with family things, but such is life. I'm hoping for a return to normal next week. I miss my routine and look forward to getting back into a groove.


Sunday, 21 July 2019

Taking It Easy

I did end up taking Bridget to the barrel racing night, only to get there and have just one other person show up. Turns out it was cancelled, and justmyself and the other lady didn't get the memo.

It's been so freaking hot tho. It's maximum effort to commit to anything!

No worries though, we set up barrels anyway and had a blast. The funniest part is we're both English riders without a clue, so much trial and error was involved and descriptors like simple changes, canter pirouettes, and jumper turns were very much tossed around as part of our strategies.

Best pony. She's game to try anything !

Bridget seemed to enjoy herself. A friend of mine took video and pictures, and it looked like Bridget made some shockingly good turns and appeared to be quicker than I thought. Benefits of a pony, I guess! I'll share the media if my friend figures out how to send it to me, otherwise how will you all know it really happened?  ;)

Picture from last week, but pretty sure this was also our excellent and very authentic barrel racing get up, lol
Zipping around and just having fun reminded me of the stuff I like about jumping, and has me motivated to get my jump saddle back out. It will be good practice for me anyway. I still have thoughts of eventing Sophie sitting in the back of my mind.

Dressage pony goals for sure, but I'd like to see if she's brave enough to event a little too.

The remainder of our weekend was pretty non eventful. A few quiet rides around the neighbourhood, a spa day for both girls. Sophie got put out in a bigger field and I let her have a vacation. She's been such a good girl and we've been so busy it seemed like a midsummer week off wouldn't hurt!


Thursday, 18 July 2019

Ponderings/To Do List (And A Lot Of Photos)

On paper, everything is going along pretty swimmingly in my little corner of the world.

I planted a bee garden this year and it makes us all happy :)

I do feel like it's not always 'real' though because a lot of the time I avoid bigger decisions and commitments that need to be made in order to keep the stress and commitment levels to a minimum. The problem with doing that is that of course the to do list things pile up further and further start to feel a little overwhelming. In my case, the 'things' are actually projects and ideas with potentially great returns!

When those feelings of being overwhelmed happen, I usually go for a ride.

I took a vacation day yesterday and rode AND got a picture :)

Realistically, though, I need to be accountable, have a plan and follow through before I find myself feeling trapped and unhappy.

So, where do I start? I think the smartest thing is to look after myself first and get things back on track fitness and diet wise so I am feeling better. It's a lot easier to get all the things done when you're feeling good. I've made this promise before here, so it's a bit embarrassing to put it out there again. News flash: I'm not perfect.

I'm really good at making time for the barn, and I enjoy it too, so I'm 99% certain I'm not going to book a training spot for S this fall and am going to do what I can myself.

Sophie was feeling left out yesterday.

The vintage vehicles the car club guys are nagging me to do something with are going to move to our garage at home, out of sight of of mind (for now)

Needs work

I need to redo my budget and schedule. I've volunteered for a couple for things recently, work is nuts, I want to train my pony, and summer just brings more activities and events to fit in. I find if I have a budget/schedule I get more done and worry less about saying no and prioritizing.

This scenic route commuting needs reevaluating too.

I found a farrier! So, we can cross the whole trimming the horses myself thing off. What a huge relief because I was spending far too many nights reading and worrying, and far too many hours making adjustments and overthinking it. For the record, farrier was not overly impressed with my work, but also she's seen professionals do worse, so small win? LOL

The rest can wait and involve some pretty big things I've been waffling over WAY TOO LONG.

Like building a barn and having the horses at home.
As for current happenings, there is a fun barrel race here Friday night. I may or may not take Bridget...she was a little footsore and very sluggish feeling yesterday so I'll see how she feels tonight before I make the call.

Sophie was also a slug yesterday. It was a bit muggy and thunderstorms were incoming, so I can hope that was the issue...please don't let me be making her dull!

The sunshine and warm weather has returned, so I also have plans of heading to the lake and floating around for an afternoon of not worrying. AFTER I check some items off the list, of course :D

One more garden pic because it's so bright and cheerful!


Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Clinic Recap 2: Notes

At the risk of boring you, I have just a few more things I found interesting from last weekend's clinic. As always, remember these are just my notes and my interpretation of what was discussed :

-Round pens. He was not so much a fan. As soon as he has basic handling he wants to change it up and be out in 'the real world'. Said he sees too many horses that are shut down or sour from  people spending far too long using the round pen as a crutch or using them because they think that's just what you do.

Luckily Bridget still thinks round pens are a lot of fun.

- He mentioned having two types of clients: the ones who want to learn in the saddle (and have the ability to train their horses there) , then the second who are maybe more comfortable or capable on the ground for any of a variety of reasons. They are both great ways to have fun and build a partnership. This isn't an earth shattering statement in itself, but it got me thinking. I guess I've always viewed groundwork through the lens of it being a step towards riding and wondered why there was so much of it and so many variations of different exercises based on the same basic training principles. Like, how much do you have to do before you're ready to ride?  Makes a lot more sense to me now, knowing a large part of the client base maybe doesn't have riding as an end goal but still wants new and interesting challenges. (I'm such a dummy sometimes, I am so relieved that my imaginary 10000 step program of groundwork exercises he'd say I should do before I ride doesn't actually exist :)

- On young horses that turn their butts in and even kick out a little (on the longe in in a round pen). He used to discipline that thinking it was disrespectful, but has started thinking if it's just the horse inviting you to play and not being malicious he just ignores it rather than running  the risk of scaring them or shutting them down by working them harder and making things "not fun". If I understood him right, he'd rather you don't react to the playing and just redirect the energy to another task to get focus back.

- Was quite vocal about never chasing your green horse into a canter or even trot. He used to be fairly firm with the transition needing to happen when asked, now interestingly enough he's in line with my dressage coach in wanting the transition to come from first establishing the proper balance and relaxation and waiting. He went so far as to say that a lot of the horses he gets in for training who swap leads or are disunited have issues that could have been prevented. They've often developed a lot of anxiety or tension in the up transition from being pushed, resulting in a loss of quality in the gait, rather than it being a mechanical or strength issue as is often assumed.

- Ask your horse to do the thing, then leg/hand/seat neutral until you want a different thing. Coming from english/dressage land, this is a thing often mentioned here too, but I've been told also to ride every stride, and my lessons are all about second by second suggestions and corrections.  I know I'm not alone - the world is full of people squeezing every stride on an extension or half halting every collected stride, making steering or bend adjustments throughout a circle, etc.  Kind of a change to see someone ask for something like a big trot or a collected canter, or a specific sized circle, then just take his aids off and expect the horse to carry on until he says differently, usually on a totally loose rein. Quality obviously not quite on par with what a dressage judge might look for, but certainly don't think he'd be kicked out of the show either! Having your horse so honest with minimal aids is a worthy goal for anyone.

- Ideal body position on the ground when longeing, leading, asking for turns, lateral movements, has a lot of similarity to under saddle. Makes perfect sense, and yet I never put the pieces together that way, always viewing it as two separate things. For example, on the ground with my longe or lead rope, I have a habit of letting my wrists turn, bend and give, and hunching forward in my shoulders  so I run out of 'room' and my elbows end up behind my back to compensate. Strangely, a similar habit and reluctance to use my arms and shoulders properly often appears under saddle :)


Sunday, 14 July 2019

Clinic Recap 1: Lesson With Sophie

Sophie had her first clinic outing this past weekend and was such a star!

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I don't do a ton of groundwork Natural Horsemanship style, so I had a lot of questions for the clinician! I was also feeling a bit worried we'd be in over our heads. If I'm honest, while some of the things they do are super cool, it's still not something I can see myself wanting to put that much effort into if I can work it out in the saddle or on the trail instead.

I'm so sorry, I took pictures this weekend for everyone but didn't ask for any in return. So, you get some randoms from last weekend instead.

We started with chatting about short and long term goals (not dying when I ride her the first time, then dressage :) and what I've been doing with her. The clinician knows me from previous under saddle and mountain trail clinics with Bridget, but it's the first time he's met Sophie.

Worry number one was eased right away - none of the fancy round penning or rope twirly things were happening. He said teaching liberty and tricks is one thing, getting a horse ready to ride and be a good saddle horse, another. Cool.

So, he watched me lead and longe Sophie and generally just do what I do and was super happy with her. Very complimentary of us both, which I won't lie, was really awesome to hear and put a big smile on my face! I've mentioned here before that I feel fairly confident with what I'm doing at this point, but of course being without guidance there us always that worry in the back of your mind wondering if you're actually being an overconfident dummy and messing it up!

So, we continued on, and the majority of our time was spent on new to us things. Awesome!

I learned how to have her side pass from the ground, away from me, then towards me. We did turn on the haunches and turn on the forehand and got them a lot smoother. Spent a little time doing  patterns, and a lot more time discussing future steps and homework. We finished with him teaching Sophie how to line up with the fence for mounting, and he put a foot on her back and then kind of hung a leg over her. Sophie was pretty wide eyed at that (stranger danger!), but we ended there when she relaxed.

Homework and feedback:

- Build on the turns and sidepassing we learned, always looking at adding more correct steps in a row and having a good flow.

- Keep with the longeing and the transitions within the gaits - he loved that I do that with her and that I  try for balanced up and down transitions too. It's so helpful for improving her response and balance.

- She is more reactive on her right side than the left. Right flank in particular a touchy area. Keep working on that. Asks if she kicks and I said not in a long time, but I do agree if I push her too hard she might still might panic and see that as an option.  It's fun that he picked up on that so quickly.

- Just keep doing what I'm doing. I'm good at it. If I'm unsure, just do what I think is right. I'm not going to mess it up. (Sounds so pretentious to write that, lol...I think what he was really saying is I could be more confident in myself, not thst I'm a perfect trainer! :)

- Don't worry too much about asking for even more responsiveness. She's ready and willing to try and if I want my sharp dressage horse it's cool to have those expectations right from the start. She naturally wants to be that horse anyway, and there is no need to slow her down. This means I need to be hyper aware of my cues and response times too.

-No judgement if I wanted to ride her a little now, but likes the idea of waiting until she's a bit more physically mature. Thought she looks like she's got a lot more growing to do.

- He really, really, really liked Sophie. His take on her:

     -Wants to be light and soft
     -Great attitude
     -Nicely put together, nice mover, so cute.
     -He wishes she came in his size, and  thinks I made a good choice purchasing her          and will have a lot of fun with her.

All in all, a great starting point! Sophie was SUCH a good girl too, and really seemed to enjoy having new and interesting challenges and people to meet.

I audited the remaining parts of the clinic as well, so if you're up for it, I'll post some notes. There were lots of new to me things to ponder, plus a lot of things he mentioned he used to do but doesn't anymore, and why he's changed his thoughts. I found those conversations especially interesting.