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Who Knew the Walk Could be so Hard?

Phew…Sunday’s ride was probably the hardest the two of us have ever worked and it was all at the walk.

Unfortunately Eeyore granted himself a mini vacation after last week’s lesson. Remember how I said he took some really lame steps on the front left after hitting the backside of a jump, spinning left and cantering off to oblivion? Well, he came in the very next morning sans one left front shoe. Best guess is that he twisted that shoe loose during that fun maneuver. The farrier was already scheduled to come out Thursday (will Eeyore ever last a full 5 weeks??? My bank account would like it if he did) so he got time off for that nonsense. Friday we had plans right after work that had us home around 11 pm and then Saturday I was a lump on my couch binge watching my new favorite show, Lucifer, on Netflix. Judge away folks, sometimes this full time working momma needs a day to be a lump.

Nasty nasty hoof. Farrier cleaned him up well, added clips this time and change the type of shoe for like the dozenth time in a year to see if adding more of a cup will relieve any sole tenderness from the hard ground

So Sunday it was and the day dawned blazing hot. There was very little humidity though, so really it was a pleasant morning in the SE. My arena has zero shade and the sun felt like fire burning down (which technically it actually is) which made it the perfect conditions to work on our homework from the lesson. I gave him a brief w/t/c warm up to get the sillies out and test his attitude for the day. He was pleasantly….well…pleasant. He is much happier in the simple single joint full cheek and fights e way less than in the myler I rode him in prior.

My homework was to stop riding him with his nose poking out and begin to introduce the concept of using his hind end and back better and being “on the bit”. During the lesson, Trainer AB had be on a circle around her at the walk, trot and canter and we had some moments of doing it right. At home, I started at the walk and folks…this crap is hard.

Dapples!!! I’m so so so happy to see dapples on him. My last Trainer told me he would never have a healthy coat because he is an Appy. Challenge accepted. All my horses have dapples and shiny, healthy coats. it is a point of pride for me. Took a full year but here he is.

My first issue was in figuring out the circle itself. Apparently my idea of a circle has a lot of angles, sharp turns and straight sides…so yeah not very circlish. It was driving me crazy. My arena is a bit large at 225′ x 135′ which gives me a whole heck of a lot of room to wiggle around and mess it up. I was wishing I had some cones to lay out and circle around. Instead I laid out four ground poles creating two separate chutes on one half of the circle as a visual aide in making the shape and forcing me to be on my own on the other half. It worked pretty well.

Like so.

Back to work we went. Trainer AB keeps telling me that one of our primary goals is to get Eeyore to learn that his feet are not connected to his mouth. Meaning: every single rein aide is not an excuse to slow down, down transition or stop. Getting him to learn to move up into the bridle takes a whole lot of concentration on my part as any increase in rein contact generally signals him to slow his feet. It is a lot of tiny adjustments as we go along and right now all of it takes a lot of concentration and mental effort on my part to get it down. When I manage to add the right amount of inside leg to keep him bending, trap his outside with my outside leg and rein, use a little outside leg at the right moment to keep him moving forward, and still ask with my hands for him to round up and give to the bit, we get it right and the feeling is pretty amazing. When I don’t? We fumble a lot. But that is what practicing is all about, isn’t it?

Someone has decided that loading is now optional. It is not. I’ve left the trailer hooked up and parked in the barn yard since Monday last week and every day we have worked on loading. We will continue to work on loading at meal time every day until he decides that self loading is a thing that happens no matter what. we are nearly there.

I started off to the left which is our easier side and really I was quite pleased with it. It took a lot of figuring out all my aides, how much pressure to use, and when to apply and release but eventually I managed an entire circle at the walk. Eeyore has zero concept of self carriage and I’m a bit stuck on just how much release to give him when he gives me what I want without allowing him to immediately lose it all, so the circle looked a lot like a few strides correct, losing it, a few strides to get it back, a few strides correct etc…The thing I was most excited about was how quickly he gave me what I was asking for. In the lesson, he was not quite sure what I was wanting and it would take a lot of ask to get it, but on Sunday it took just a whisper. Even through all the mental effort, I was grinning. It will take a lot of work to gain the strength and ability to carry it longer, but we will get there.

I stuck to just the walk this time. I tried it at the trot, but honestly things just came up faster plus he is even more prone to down transition when life gets to be too much work in the trot, so that added effort stretched my abilities a bit too thin. Rather than stress him out or start confusing us both, I went back to the walk and then called it a day. By the time we ended it had been a good 40 minutes of effort and we were both soaked with sweat t the point my undies were damp. Too much info??? I’m dangerously teetering on the edge of wanting to drill the snot out of this until we get it right…but I know that won’t be productive in the long run especially with Eeyore who can get pretty stubborn about things he doesn’t enjoy. He is a 100% different horse when he decides to play along versus when he gets sullen and bored. The great thing about him is that lessons tend to stick super well once they do break through his thick skull so while right now is a bit of a struggle, I know that once the light bulb comes on it will stay on for good.

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Show Ring Ready

In a – we probably won’t win but also probably won’t make complete fools of our selves – way. At least Trainer AB thinks so after my lesson last night which was full of baubles and bucks and horrified faces along with some great moments as well.

Eeyore was in a fine mood which actually surprised me a bit since he generally gets Mondays off after being ridden at least two of the three weekend days (I count Friday because why not?). Life has happened and now apparently Trainer AB is at the local to me barn on Monday instead of Wednesday which is meh for me, but I will make it work. Anyway…things started off ok but very quickly degraded.

Barely any related media. He has learned that he gets to graze before the lesson as we wait our turn in the ring

You see, Frat Boy likes him some company when he works. Maybe its the distraction is provides or maybe misery loves company, either way he was pretty thrilled and high on life when we entered the ring to warm up while the previous lesson was cooling down. He was none to happy to watch them exit the arena through the open gate and decided to show his displeasure by bucking and throwing a temper tantrum when I wouldn’t let him leave too.

This became a thing for the majority of the lesson too. Each time we would come by the gate, Sir Head Up His Butt would attempt to exit stage left and when I didn’t let him he would throw down a temper tantrum. While I could get pissy about this, instead I just pulled his head up from between his knees, dug my heels into his sides and rode him on. I don’t know but something happened out on that xc course and he no longer scares me with his stupidity.

Trainer AB was extremely happy to see this and commented that not that long ago behavior like that would have resulted in her getting the ride. I was pleased with myself even if over his attitude.

Post ride angry grazing…LOL!

She wanted to work on “dressage stuff” as she put it with the goal being to introduce actual work, roundness, bend and the whole being on the bit thing which, to be completely honest, is something that has been beyond me for my entire riding life. She put u on the 20 m circle going left and I explained my biggest circle issue. I start off on a 20 m circle but soon find myself on a 15 then 10 then 5 as I ask him to give me inside bend. She began a n explanation of all the different aides to keep him bent, round, using his hind, not spiraling in and still moving forward and uh…my brain melted. So she came and took the reins and walked beside me as we went around once to show me what I was looking for as a response from him. For his part, Eeyore is still stuck on the fact that any rein aid means to slow or stop, so it took a while.

We did manage to get it for a few strides at a time and man, when I got it from him, it was pretty great. Exhausting. But great. At one point, as we moved to the sitting trot, Trainer AB started to laugh. I looked at her funny. My entire life I have always stuck my tongue out the right side of my mouth when concentrating hard. Many a times someone has told me I would bite it off. I never have. Well, it seems Eeyore has the same habit and as we worked around asking him to round, lift his back,, step under and still bend while moving forward, he stuck his tongue out the right side of his mouth and looked deep in concentration. Trainer AB couldn’t help but chuckle at us.

For all his oddness, Trainer AB actually really like Eeyore and gets a kick out of how expressive he is with his face. She can always tell when he is bored, thinking of being naughty, proud of himself or lost in thought.

His favorite past time is rolling. I catch him rolling multiple times a day

We worked on this concept at the walk, rising trot, sitting trot and canter and while we a re no where near perfecting it, the few strides I managed to get were pretty great feeling and now I have a better understanding of what I am looking for so I can work on this at home.

After that we moved to jumping a bit but that kinda went off the rails. We attacked a small cross rail off a left turn heading away from the barn at the trot. He landed, bucked, sharply turned left and proceeded to move as if he left his front left leg back at the jump. He was OFF. Big time OFF. He worked out of it though and we came around but now I was paranoid he was lame (remember this is the leg that the chiro vet is worried about) and Trainer AB kept an eagle eye on it as we approached again. He was ok and went over and wasn’t lame on the back side but didn’t feel right either so we changed to a right hand approach towards the barn and that he was perfect for , so who the heck knows. The farrier is coming Thursday and has changes to make to the LF shoe job so we will see. I think he hit the ground and when he made a roping style sharp turn off the back side he twisting his already twisted front left leg and hurt himself a bit. Maybe he will learn? Who knows?

After that she wanted me to tackle that darn pipe jump again this time saying we would do the two stride pipe combo, but we never made it that far. He took the first one with 3′ to spare between him and the pipe and it popped me up out of the tack, left me behind and allowed me to experience the wonders of crashing my crotch into the pommel of my saddle as he landed and bucked again. This wasn’t a naughty buck per se. This was his celebration of his own greatness, but I could have lived without that. I managed to stay on throughout, but it shook me so when we approached again i rode backwards and he said no.

Fair enough.

The third time we made it over and did it ok but he still over jumped and I still freaked out. Trainer AB once again laughed saying that both Eeyore and I had the exact same look of terror approaching the pipe which isn’t really the best way to learn how to make this stupid jump a non issue for us. The current plan is to have her school him over it the next time so at least one of us doesn’t picture imminent death while we approach and hope that that translates to a more appropriate jump effort on his part and more confidence on mine.

We ended over the cross rail a few more times to get the groove back and called it a night. While I was untacking, she came over to talk to me. She looked Eeyore over and was happy to say that she could see new muscling, less fat and more of a horse versus a hippo shape starting to come out. She said that we have progressed way beyond what she thought we would have at this point which is all to her own credit though she is too humble to take it. She told me that Eeyore is a rather tricky Butthead to ride which I guess I don’t really see since Gem was my last ride for a decade and well, anything is easy compared to her. But he is tricky in his own butthead ways and isn’t shy to throw in a buck or twelve when he is displeased with the plan or run off a bit or duck his shoulder and cut in. But we are working on all of that and he is making me 1000x a better rider int he process.

She also informed me that we will be entering a show this fall once she returns from showing at AECs. She prefers the fall season to the spring because in her words “all the northerners are gone, the atmosphere is less competitive and the locals are much nicer”. She will be choosing the event that she feels will be best for us and will be coming with (which she has no choice even if I have to kidnap her and bring her myself). I mentioned my goal to show at the amoeba level which is a w/t dressage test, 18″ stadium that you can walk over which I literally did with Gem, and a xc course at 18″ with only 3 mandatory fences. She said no way. We will be entering at starter. Uh…..

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Stuff and Things

It’s hot. No surprise there. It is July in the SE after all. I’ll take 100F over 30F any day any time. I love summer.

Not a whole lot new is going on over here. I’m continuing to ride Eeyore to help his fitness, relaxation and compliance to my aides. Some days and some rides are better than others but overall things are heading in the right direction. My confidence has sky rocketed since the xc school and it is showing up in the flat rides at home since then. He still tries to pull his crap early on, but now I’m in a place where I can shut him down without a fuss and move on to have a good ride.

Someone was very tired after his XC outing and slept for nearly two days after.

Yesterday I worked him in the arena and then headed out to the big pasture to cool down. We made it all the way around hoof perfect at the walk which means that next time I’ll add in some trot sets up the hill. His booty needs the work out and I love the low impact high output that grassy hills provide. Once I’m comfy at the walk we will add canter sets as well.

Big Boy got a muzzle ordered for him as well. He is fat and being fat wont help his legs any in the long run. Gem needs a new one anyway. She has managed to break the halter that came with hers twice and in the process of trying to rip it off by rubbing on the water tank, she gave herself an eye ulcer. I guess she wins as now she is in a fly mask without the muzzle until it heals. Its good to be married to a vet folks. He caught the tiny ulcer bringing her in for breakfast over the weekend.

Waggy made it down to the pond this weekend. Her right hind is not holding up to being the sole hind support very well. Some days she is extremely painful and pitiful and others she seems to do ok. We are taking life with her one day at a time, but things are not looking good at the moment

I went ahead and ordered just the basket with attachments to her regular halter instead of an all in one halter/muzzle so hopefully that will be safer for her. She has been wearing the muzzle during the day for just over a month now and has noticeable weight loss already. Lots more to go but she is getting there.

Trainer AB texted me this morning asking if I wanted to lesson at 8 pm tonight which is my bed time, but I am not complaining. Finding a trainer that works evenings is next to impossible so I am trying to be as flexible as possible with her. Plus at least at 8 pm the sun is going down and the world is cooling off a bit. Hopefully I will have some exciting things to talk about after the lesson though Dusty will be at home with Wyatt so no media. I really need to put a Soloshot on my xmas list this year.

That’s about it around here. Status quo really as we head into the hottest month of the year.

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Cross Country Fun

Not a lot of media due to being there without ground crew so I’ll keep this short and to the point.

Eeyore was amazing.

Trainer AB continues to build my confidence in leaps and bounds.

I left thinking “We can do this. We can actually do this!” for the first time since trying this sport the fall of 2016.

There are worse sights on a Sunday morning.

I met up with Trainer AB and one other rider at FENCE Sunday morning for a go around the course. I’d been there three times with Gemmie and have found that there are a few teeny tiny jumps I’m ok with popping over and figured I’d at least spend time in the water.

Eeyore started off with his head firmly up his rather rotund buttocks. He was so fixated on the other horse during warm up that you’d have thought they knew each other for years not just 15 seconds. Trainer AB eventually hopped on his rearing, sassy butt and galloped him up the massive hill a couple times which not only instilled the fact that he can work away from another horse but also had the added benefit of being strenuous enough to make him realize life can really suck when you don’t get in line.

Surverying the course

Once she handed him back to me it was on to some jumps. I looked around a little dismayed that there was only a single jump in the immediate vicinity that I was comfortable jumping: a tiny red jump on the starter course that I had jumped previously with Gem. I figured she’d work the other girl who is showing BN and schooling N for a planned move up after AECs this fall and we’d move on to find some jumps for us.

Nope.

PC KC’s helmet cam a couple of years ago.

She told me to take the red starter ramp and well, there is just something about the combo of Eeyore under me who never says no to anything and Trainer AB on the ground with her quiet confidence and insistence that I’m a better rider than I give myself credit for, that make me just go and do the thing.

So I did.

Still in love with this vest. It was insanely humid that the sweat was pouring down my back in the shade at rest. While I was still hot, I easily forgot I was even wearing the vest within 5 minutes of putting it on.

We went over that a few times and then she said “ok…do the next one”

I looked around for “the next one” but didn’t see anything. Then it dawned on me. She meant the BN bench. Uh….

This bench. This massive, wide, unforgiving bench. This jump is the first legit xc fence I’ve taken on that wasn’t a log or a tiny roll top or something that basically the horse could walk over. This bench makes me feel like I’m actually doing xc for the first time.

She nodded to me and well….if she thought we could it then so did I. I approached at the trot and he flew over that thing like it was 4′ tall. Trainer AB chuckled and commented on how big he had jumped and I laughed back that it felt even bigger!

The next time I backed way off and let him drift to the right. He glanced off the side though being a Good Boy he still jumped the side of it. We circled around again and came with me actually riding and over he went no issue.

I felt like I was flying. I felt like I had wings. I felt like I could do absolutely anything. Riding folks. It gives you confidence for all your life.

A gorgeous view between these mighty orange ears

By this time he was blowing hard and was radiating heat. The sun was covered by a heavy cloud bank and while the heat was nicely blocked out the humidity felt at 90% and the sweat was pouring off me like a waterfall.

We all agreed it would be best to head to the water next for some cool down play time. Eeyore hadn’t seen water for over a year yet he waltzed right in like an old pro. The jumps in and around were N and up so she had us work on coming into the water from the steep down hill approach through the water and out the steep up hill. The whole goal was maintaining the trot and forward momentum while not letting him fall on his face going down or speed up going out.

This is a really nice water complex with plenty of room to work on a number of different skills with or without the jumps

Eeyore very much enjoyed the water and we had a good time playing through there before heading up the hill to the cluster of banks. We attacked the tiny middle one that I’ve done with Gem a few times.

I was taken completely off guard when he took one look at the bank and slammed on the breaks in alarm. It was the first time he ever gave me an honest “no” as an answer. I think it just caught him off guard and he didn’t know what to do so in his safe way he stopped to look for guidance. We came back and let him walk up it and from there he gave a hearty, and rather obnoxiously large, yes each time.

It took me a while to get my own rhythm and body under control up the bank but eventually I got Trainer AB’s approval.

Hot, but happy at the end of the schooling

As one final task she had us go back to the water, come through it then over to the bank and up. By the time we did that Eeyore was done. He was blowing hard and overheating, so she told us we graduated and I headed back to strip tack and dump water on him at the trailer.

I was so so so so proud of him. Outside his obnoxious warm up behavior he was amazing. It took a bit to get him to settle when the other horse would go off to do his thing but that is just an experience thing. He was honest, brave and bold all day long and handled the terrain and insane humidity very well.

Soaked through but glad I went and did the thing

I drove back home with yet another grin on my face. He may not be fancy. He may have a wonky gait at times. He may have his head firmly up his butt. Folks. This horse though. This horse. He makes my life better on the daily. He brings sunshine and hope and dreams. He is amazing in all his odd ways.

Ok. So maybe that wasn’t short or to the point.

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Damnit Eeyore, Part 2

When last I left off in Part 1, I had had the vet out due to swelling and sensitivity in Eeyore’s left loin. She had prescribed Equinox and was a little iffy on what was causing the issue but planned to come back out to recheck after completion.

Eeyore was a good boy about his meds and ate the pills whole in his food. I was unconcerned about the follow up as the weird area of swelling was gone, he was feeling amazing and we had the best jump school of my life.

This day. I’ll never forget this day.

So when she came out yesterday I didn’t think much of the follow up. Heck, I had ridden a short w/t/c flat ride in the arena Monday night and while he was behind my leg and a bit fussy he was fine and willing enough.

Until the hubby told me over lunch that she called to let him know Eeyore was grade 3 massively lame on the left front. WTF? All I had wanted was a darn chiro adjustment!

I finally got to talk to her this morning though I had patients waiting so I didn’t get as into the weeds as I would have liked. Apparently she was extremely pleased with the left loin stating that it was 100% amazing just as I had thought.

Contemplating life after an easy ground work session

She had wanted to be very thorough though so she had her assistant walk and trot him straight on the grass and on pavement (my driveway) and saw no issues. She then had her lunge him and bam! Grade 3 lame front left on a circle going left. Going right? Fine. She decided to look more into it and did flexions. If anyone is counting, this is now his third set of flexions in a year.

As expected, he was fine. Not a single hint of anything wrong. As happened the last two times he was flexed. The boy flexes nicely. Hoof testers were negative. She asked if we want xrays. No. No I don’t. I’ve had him xrayed. Twice. Everything inside is fine. Just like last year only this time it was the front left instead of the front right. Thankfully. If it was his front right all over again I’d shoot him myself. Just kidding. Sorta.

A gung ho very much not lame horse

We talked a while and the end analysis from her is that he has crap conformation, the left leg twists at an ungodly angle and well sometimes that is going to show up as a lameness when he is on a circle and the leg is torqued. She does not think this is at all soft tissue related and sees no reason I can’t do low level eventing/jumping for years to come.

Her biggest suggestion was to change his shoes a bit and uh….get him a muzzle to match Gem as he could stand to lose 100lbs and being fit will only help his longevity with regards to his legs. He will HATE it. Gem is pretty darn good about it and has figured out she can still graze and drink just fine and has already lost some weight. Eeyore. Well. This won’t end well but I’ll be ordering one for him today. Plus we are amping up his riding so that can only help.

Is he still good for what I want? Yup. Not perfect but I knew that when I chose him. I want to do low level eventing. Maybe get to BN. A few shows a year. Two lessons a month. Some hunter paces. A lot of back yard flat work. All things he should be able to do for many years to come. She said there really are no limits at the moment and since he is anything but stoic he will let me know when something isn’t right.

Never going to stop using this picture

At the moment we are moving ahead as normal. Any dreams of potential endurance have been shattered because there is no way he will pass the vetting but that is ok. I wasn’t set on that and thought maybe a 25 at Biltmore next year but oh well. She gave the green light to keep riding and keep jumping. If I ever get the lady bits to go higher, I may need to relook into things but for now it’s full steam ahead on my slightly wonky, little bit goofy gelding.

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Little Nuances

Wednesday night wasn’t all about major breakthroughs. Trainer AB has a sneaky way of throwing in little tiny details that make major changes in the way I ride and I don’t want to lose sight of those in the bigger picture of the lesson as a whole.

One of the earliest and biggest changes happened during the brief warm up. She is always saying to Own The Outside of him which is super important as he likes to bulge in forever and always. However, I can be quite literal when taking instruction so this led to me uh…nearly running into the fence in my turns.

Stills from he lesson that really have nothing to do with this but I love them anyway. Here I am looking towards Trainer AB and Eeyore is looking at Dusty. Is anyone looking where we are going??

Trainer AB easily corrected this with one of her patented (by me anyway) little gems. She told me that while I do need to own his outside, I do actually need to use my inside rein to direct him, but when I would abandon my outside and use the inside, he would predictably bulge inward and I’d feel unbalanced and like I was motorcycling around.

So she told me to a) start my turn way earlier, b) use the inside rein as a turn aide through the first half of the turn only and finally c) go back to my outside rein half way through the turn to rebalance and complete it.

And wouldn’t you know it but we had the most balanced corners I’ve ever gotten. It was a fun little tool to play around with as we went around and made a huge difference in his ability to maintain pace and balance through the corners.

Just a cantering fool these days. I do’t recall ever spending so much time cantering before. I love it!

Her next piece of helpful advice came in the canter poles exercise. I love a short approach. This comes from my Gem days. Riding a twisting, turning pretzel was difficult so I would eliminate most of her ability to contort herself by cramming her at things on the shortest approach possible. This has carried over to Eeyore and is apparently the exact opposite of what he needs.

When I’d let him trot too long and picked up the canter right before the first pole, he’d be strung out and take a flyer over the poles.

Like so. Fortunately he seems to have gorilla arms and can really stretch himself out when needed

If, instead, I got him cantering down the entire long side, through the corner and into the poles, he would be more packaged up and take the exercise smoother. We had our baubles and at times chipped in or got long, but overall with a much longer approach he performed a lot better.

No more cramming for me I suppose.

And last she called me out on my posting. I have mentioned to her that I seem to start out at a nice trot rhythm but as we go on it tends to get faster and faster and every horse I ride does this so it is for sure a me thing. As I was going around she, in her infinitely wise way, pin pointed the issue. When I post I barely flirt with the saddle. I go up and come down with my butt grazing the saddle instead of actually sitting in it with weight. When she told me to actually sit deeper, Eeyore responded by slowing down. This is extremely hard for me to do right now. I have to constantly remind myself to actually sit in the down which should seem easy, but ugh. This is a habit that has been ingrained over thousands of miles of trotting. Homework for sure.

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This Horse Guys. ❤️. This Horse.

There I was sitting at work typing up a medical note Wednesday morning when a text came through from Trainer AB asking if I wanted to lesson that evening. She was supposed to be out of town so I was surprised by the text. A quick check with Dusty that he wouldn’t mind and I gave an enthusiastic yes! The time was set for 745pm and I even got Dusty and Wyatt to come watch. Be prepared for an onslaught of media.

Trainer AB has been wanting to try him in a single joint full cheek as that is her favorite bit. I borrowed a bridle with the bit and he seemed to adjust very well.

Trainer AB came over after I unloaded to ask how my homework had been going. I told her that I’d been working hard on owning his outside and sitting up without letting him pull me down. He has responded by being way less of a bully with his head. I had also been working on the 42′ three stride canter exercise though I told her I kept getting a lovely and even four each time. Maybe I measured it wrong? And finally, I mentioned my tendency to stop riding as soon as an exercise is complete allowing him to veer off wherever he pleased and that I need to remember to ride every stride.

She was pleased that I had been working on it and had me do a quick single circuit walk before picking up the trot. Eeyore was in fine form and after only a single episode of him trying to shake his head and take charge, he quickly settled and got to work. The flat work was so smooth that she quickly had us working through the 42′ line first to the right:

And then to the left:

Really I’m just still so excited about my new found nonchalance about the canter transition. It’s a whole new thing for me! I could pick myself apart here, but screw that nonsense! I’m so happy to be where I’m at.

After a few go arounds both directions she had one major comment. Namely, his stride is really big and I need to focus on packaging him just a bit especially right before the poles as he tends to get excited and then expands his stride even more. Keeping him just a smidge more put together really helped with everything. She was overall very pleased with the progress and it turned out that I had set my exercise correctly at home. My error was in what I was counting as stride 1. I counted the landing as 1 and she started the stride after that. Either way I managed to get the same striding each time through.

Since that had gone well, she set a small cross rail with a placing pole in front and we came at it from a trot. The first time Eeyore paid exactly zero attention to it and we sorta plopped over it and zig zagged away so we came again and I actually used my leg and over we went. It was small and he could have cared less about putting effort in.

That went smoothly so she added a second cross rail one stride out.

I think she was expecting more issues from us to be honest, but Homeboy was being amazing and I was having a blast so had zero tension or fetal tendencies. It was all going swimmingly. After a few times through she said “Ok then. Here is your Grand Prix.” She raised the second element to a vertical and when I saw the height I turned to Dusty in the bleachers and said “She is trying to kill me!”

Eeyore is so brave and honest though. I took a deep breath and approached and while I was a bit more grabby with my hands in an attempt to make him crawl like a snail towards it, he popped over no issue.

Again, she seemed pleasantly surprised with us. I was grinning like a fool which seems to be a theme with these lessons. I was so proud of Eeyore and of myself. I told Trainer AB that that was the highest I have ever jumped and it felt so awesome.

Then I heard her say “Ok then. Here is your Grand Prix”

uh oh…..

She wanted us to take the vertical with the plastic pipe around it going towards the barn. The actual exercise is a two stride combination of two of these jumps and the entire evil plan was to do this one as a single, then add the other one as a single going away from the barn and finish with the entire thing.

I was nervous. She reminded me that she had jumped him over that and he hadn’t cared at all. I reminded her that it was her in the irons and not me but I approached and….

Seriously, look how freaking much he over jumped this thing!!! You could fit another Eeyore between him and that pipe!

He over jumped it so much and I got left very far behind.

I don’t think this is proper technique, Buddy. And then there is Trainer AB calmly standing by probably questioning her life choices that brought her to teaching us.

It didn’t boost my confidence at all so when we came back around he ran out to the right and I did nothing to stop it. Trainer AB told me to come again.

He refused again. Something about me being a hollow backed, tipped forward fetus didn’t really scream “jump this obstacle Eeyore!” Shocking, I know.

Finally I pulled my big girl panties on and approached with meaning. When I felt him go right, I blocked him and made him stay in line with the jump and over we went!

Leaving this picture a but bigger so you can all enjoy the look of mortal terror on my face. Eeyore looks so super cute here.

I was so so so proud of him. All the refusal crap was 100% my fault. I was riding like a fetus and not helping him out one bit. A really nice thing about Eeyore is that his response to me being an idiot is to stop. If I’m flailing or left behind or feel out of balance he just quits. Which is fine for my wimpy ammy self as a safety feature but it does also mean I have to actually ride.

At that point it was clear we were done. Eeyore was huffing and puffing hard and all my adrenaline was used up. There was no reason to push the envelope after we had accomplished so very much already.

I thanked Trainer AB profusely for being her awesome self and for the amazing lesson. It is one for the books for sure!