Category Archives: Horse Life

Wax in My Ear

This past weekend, P was extremely challenging. I had no idea what was up his rear end, but both days I ended up getting off to lunge him to see if anything was wrong. Saturday I quit after about 20 minutes on my ticking time bomb, but Sunday when he was the same way…he just had to deal for an hour so I could get some practice in. Was it fun? No. We jumped (i.e. flung ourselves over) some little stuff, and did spiral in/out and leg yields at the trot because he was so tense in the walk and he’d give half a circle of canter before side bolting into the oblivion. I was so disappointed because I’d sent BO a fun exercise that she had set up and I was excited to try it out.

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Both days when I went out to the pasture to get him, he stayed where he was and just didn’t look thrilled to see me. He’s never run away or been hard to catch, but usually he comes to the gate or at least meets me halfway. Both Saturday and Sunday, he just stood there and watched me approach with judgy eyes.

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So yesterday came rolling along and I headed out to the barn after work. Pulled up the driveway, next to his pasture, and look who came up to say hi:

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When I continued on to the barn, I saw movement in my rearview mirror:

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And then I went in the barn to change and all that, then headed to his pasture:

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And even though he looked like this…

 

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And this is the horse that hates currying…

 

Wouldn’t ya know? We had a great ride. Walk? Sure. Trot? Stretchy and working: check. Canter? Here’s some super calm transitions. Jump the course? K. Put the jumps up to 2’6″and go around again? Thumbs up. Get off again, raise two to 2’9″ and canter around it again? No worries.

 

 

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Pilgrim last night

 

 

I was definitely stewing on the way to the barn yesterday. At the old H/J barn, he was ALWAYS spooky/tense/obnoxious/frustrating, so I was afraid that maybe the magic was wearing off the new place and he would just forever be a nightmare at home. But after talking to BO, turns out people were shooting ALL WEEKEND in the land adjacent to the farm.

I think I just need to do a better job of listening.

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Cause of Death: 18″ Cavaletti

After giving P 3 days off (2 were on purpose), we headed to Trainer B’s yesterday for our 2nd to last lesson before he heads off to sunny Florida.

 

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Me when he gets back and I don’t remember how to ride anymore.

 

I had no idea what was in store for us that day, but I wasn’t expecting the question, “How often do you leg yield at the canter?”

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Everyone, horse and human, has a stronger side and a direction they go better in. I used to be better going to the right, while P was better going to the left, so we sort of (emphasis on the sort of) balanced each other out. Then I broke my left ankle and that makes going right SUCK.

Combine that with going right being P’s worse direction, we’re just a hot mess. Going to the left, I can usually keep P round and bent correctly. Going to the right takes all my physical and mental ability, and when P and/or I get tired, it’s just all over.

 

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Not round, not bent correctly. And the reason why we missed our planned turn.

 

In our lesson with Trainer J last Tuesday (before the HT), she had me step to the outside as hard as I could and shift my hands to the left to try to counteract P leaning in.

 

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Which I had to do so hard just to get P to arc out a little bit so we didn’t plow into the jump

 

Trainer B said he felt it last Wednesday when he rode him, and it was time to fix that.

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When I ask P to move off my left leg, he, ya know, does it. When I ask him to go to the left off my right leg he resists against my leg and just gets super bendy with his shoulders. And then gets fussy when you put his shoulders back where they belong, almost like he’s trying to distract you because THIS IS HARD. And then rather than keep my leg soft and rhythmic, I brace because THIS IS HARD. See a theme?

So Trainer B had us start on the left lead down the straightaway, then leg-yield to the right. Left lead? Check. Right lead? Tempi changes.

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P: Let’s skip the 1st level BS and go straight to 4th. But only tracking right.

But it got better each time around, so then Trainer B set up a cavaletti, with an obstacle that we had to get past after landing.

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We  were supposed to land, half-halt, leg yield. Leg-yielding off the left leg wasn’t so bad:

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And I didn’t even notice that he moved the chair a little bit each time to make us work harder.

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But then we turned around to go our collectively harder way.

 

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So close to going past the mounting block. Not.

 

 

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Not even a little closer

 

Until we didn’t screw it up.

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So then the cavaletti turned into a bonafide jump, which Trainer B joyfully announced would make it harder.

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And, well, he wasn’t lying.

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I can’t even tell you how many times I lost my right stirrup and almost hit the dirt before I finally proclaimed this was the most dangerous thing Trainer B has ever had me do. Ok, maybe it was just 2 times.

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Then we turned around.

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Heaven help us. But we eventually got it right.

 

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And without tempi changes!

 

I will say, for how challenging it was, it’s really an excellent (and simple to set up) exercise. The point is to get the horse to land off a jump and go, “What next?” instead of just charging into the abyss. So we’ll be incorporating that into our routine now until it gets a bit easier and consistent.

Then Trainer B brought up changing P’s bit on XC. And I could feel the defensiveness rise. Yeah, P has been a little bit of a freight train on XC lately, but I’m actually enjoying it because it’s so different from the whole crawling-and-stopping-at-every-jump thing we had going on before. So I asked what he had in mind, and imagine my surprise when the response was, “A fat, rubber snaffle.”

I think I stuttered, “But that’s milder than even this bit.”

Duh.

But the reasoning is sound. I currently use a Herm Sprenger KK Ultra loose ring on P. The double jointedness encourages him to give to the bit and keep steady contact, which is great for dressage and show jumping, but P needs to be bolder on XC (getting there, but not enough), and Trainer B thinks that him being able to have a more solid feeling in his mouth might help.

No more horse trials this year, so the experiment will have to wait until next year. Which actually isn’t so far off now that I think about it. So if anyone uses a rubber snaffle and has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Testing 1, 2, 3…

Yesterday we went to Trainer B’s for him to give P a little tune up ride (which I’ve made him promise to do before every HT), and the arena was set up pretty much the same as when we were there Friday, besides the flamingo/Liverpool jump now being a vertical instead of a cross-rail. After a much more in-depth warmup than I usually do, he pointed P at the same pallet jump he refused on Friday and P sailed over.

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So far, so good.

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giphy.gifIn fact, I was super excited because P went over everything the first try, even the new-to-him flamingo jump (which looked terrifying to me).giphy.gifThen Trainer B says, “He’s a lot better than the last time I rode him.567f0886c3d9cc98598ed421388f968cd13897f49132c7c4499063dd0e955f87

And if there were any doubts before, it’s clear now that P can understand the English language.

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Yikes..

That was an even rougher “NOPE” than he usually gives me and I was extra glad I wasn’t on his back. P has jumped that coop before (and didn’t have any refusals), but without the wavy plank on top, and so it did look a little intimidating. But still, stopping is just a no-go, and luckily, Trainer B is much better equipped to deal with that nonsense than I am.

 

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OMG P, JUST GO.

 

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Dramatic much?

The cool thing about Trainer B is that he doesn’t get rattled (either that or he hides it really well) and after P went over, he came around again like nothing had ever happened. He wasn’t all angry and whipping him (like some other trainers might), he just rode him positively towards it and that’s what P needed.

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And then they put the line back together again.

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I’ll be surprised if P ever stops again. If he’s smart, he won’t.

Then Trainer B did a few more things, and says, “Your turn.”

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But I did. And instead of giving me a course, Trainer B just called out jumps. Probably so I wouldn’t get all freaked out about jumping the coop myself.

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So he called it, said to get straight and gallop, and I did(ish), and though I’m pretty sure I closed my eyes, we survived.

And it was fun. Well, it was fun when it was over.

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Hitting the road in T minus 8 hours!

 

We Need All the Help We Can Get

Last Friday we trekked up to Trainer B’s for our weekly “Leg on” lesson.

Someday I’ll get it right.

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Trainer B says, “Suuuure.”

So we warmed up, then I pointed him towards the one jump he’s never refused before: the brush pallet, except this time it didn’t have brush sticking up in it.

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So apparently the LACK of decoration is less spooky than brush? Cool.

 

Then went over the rainbow. I mean, tried to.

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When is he going to learn stopping doesn’t mean he’s done?

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And then Trainer B cursed me by saying, “One more time.”

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Again, Trainer B

And well, gross.

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Then we both got our acts together and did it a few more times.

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Trainer B apparently gave up hope on us successfully schooling single fences and just sent us around the course.

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Super surprised he actually went over the final 2 jumps, but ok, thanks

And then finally ended on this:

It was going so well, that I’m pretty sure I actually started praying, “Don’t screw up the last fence, don’t screw up the last fence.” as we landed off the Swedish oxer.

But we didn’t, and got to be done!

I can see from the videos that I’m even more hunchback than usual, and I think I’m going to test out bringing my stirrups up a hole or two. But the good news is that I’m getting consistently more and more comfortable sending P forward.

Yesterday we went for a field trip to see Trainer J and it was the most effective dressage lesson I’ve ever had, thanks to ditching my dressage saddle and riding in my beloved Volty.  Husband didn’t come, but Trainer J took a short video of us warming up….and it only got fancier from there. We worked a lot on canter to trot transitions and trot to walk, and while the walk leaves something to be desired, that’s my fault for not making it a priority.

Today we go back to Trainer B’s and true to his promise after Windridge, Trainer B is going to ride him first, which I’m greatly looking forward to.

Then we head to CHP tomorrow!

I Can’t Even

Find the right title for this post.

Last week, Kastel posted a contest on their IG:

Kastel4I like free Kastel but alas, I’m of the wrong gender.

So what to do?

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I mean…Husband was an infantry Marine for 10 years. Surely nothing I can come up with would be worse than terrorists in Iraq/Afghanistan.

 

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Horses vs terrorists…should be a no-brainer. Apparently not.

 

But he’s also the very bestest in the world. So….enjoy.

And the blooper reel. Actors we are not.

And then I got a comment FROM KASTEL:

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Duh. Yes, you can!

And.

WE WON!

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Husband is the best! And P, of course. This was the only thing he did on Thursday and he was absolutely amazing.

Thank you, Kastel!!

Wait, It’s NEXT WEEK?

When you ask your BO if the farrier can switch the appointment from the week after the HT to before the HT…

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I don’t do so good when a new month begins.

But we’re officially entered!

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I entered P in the 2’3″ division again, for a few reasons.

  1. The first, last, and only time we’ve been to CHP for this HT series we participated in the schooling day and it was total chaos, which was exactly negative 30 degrees of fun. I said I’d never do it again. But the 2 lower divisions have their own SJ arena AND their own XC course, so we can participate in the schooling day without being run over by all the BN-Prelim riders. This is a very popular show, and there are already over 130 entries a week before the closing date, with a lot of non-compete horses coming specifically for the schooling day. So I’m ostracizing us.
  2. I want both P & I to come out of the jumping phases going, “Wait, that was it?” like we did at Windridge.
  3. I need to make sure Windridge wasn’t a fluke.

Since this is the final HT of the series for the year, it’s also the championship. Needless to say, since I finished the June HT on my back in the middle of the SJ arena, we’re just participating in the regular HT division.

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I can’t believe we’re not qualified…

But I was still in October mode, where anything November related seemed so far away. And while I quite enjoy camping in my trailer in the summer with my AC, it will be my first time cold-weather camping.

I mean, yeah, I’m in NC and it’s currently 77 degrees but still…it COULD get cold.

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So. I have to do some shopping.

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I thought they were opening up the stabling Thursday night, since for the other HTs they opened stabling Friday night and then schooling is on Saturday. But when I entered, they only had selections for Friday/Saturday night, so I guess we’ll be rising and shining early to get there before the insanity begins.

 

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P giving pasturemate S a lead into the new pond to show him water isn’t so scary after all.

 

Riding-wise things have been a little sucky. P got off Monday, then Tuesday decided hacking out was super spooky, which was a little weird. Wednesday was more of the same thing, so I decided to test a theory. P and BO’s horse Sandero are turned out 24/7 now, only coming inside to eat (which I LOVE), but all the other horses just got switched from night turnout to day turnout. This means dinner-time has gotten pushed back so the horses have more turnout time. Good for the horses, bad for P’s internal alarm clock. So yesterday when P started being a prick about not being allowed to bolt, I brought him in, gave him half his dinner, and bridled him back up. He was much better, even popping back and forth over a 2’6″+ vertical a few times with no drama. So, verdict? Homeboy was HANGRY.

hangry-noun-a-state-of-anger-caused-by-a-lack-5588937I just wanted to test the theory, but BO is awesome and said she’ll bring him in to eat while she rides S, so that way when I get there after work, he should be good to go. Hopefully that’s the ticket and we can get back to our boring (so fun for me) rides.

 

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Trying on a new blanket

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Stop following me, P, I need a picture

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Stalker alert. Super confused when I left the pasture without taking him out.

 

Lesson with Trainer B tomorrow and I have no idea yet what trickery he’ll come up with.

Weekend Adventures

We’ll start with Thursday.

Friday we were going to Tryon for some XC schooling, so Thursday night I wanted to keep it light since we had jumped on Wednesday (where P was phenomenal). I had an idea of what I wanted to do, so I dragged Husband to the barn in case of a medical emergency, but I shouldn’t have worried.

**You HAVE to listen with the sound on for Husband’s commentary.

My horse is awesome. And so, so unimpressed with my shenanigans.

Friday morning, we hauled 2 hours to F.E.N.C.E. in Tryon for some XC schooling with Sara and her trainer, J. Since schooling at Windridge was such a success with mostly the 2’3″ fences + a smattering of BN fences, my hope for the day was to do mostly BN fences with at least one Novice fence.

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We started warming up in the field and a few minutes into trotting, P stumbled slightly, then kept going. A few seconds later, Sara asked J to pick up a horse shoe that was on the ground. I turned around and…sure enough, right where P stumbled. J picked up his feet and lo and behold, front right was missing.

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So we drove 2 hours for 6 minutes of warming up. Cool.

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But then I remembered that there was a hunter show going on, so J drove down to the show office to see if they had a farrier. She was able to get a farrier who was there watching his granddaughter compete and just so happened to have his truck there to come out to the XC course to tack back on the shoe. Sorry, P.

 

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PC: Sara

 

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Before we all say “Awww, what a kind, old nice farrier,” let me tell you he charged me SIXTY DOLLARS for his 5 minutes of tacking on the shoe. I almost ripped it back off when he told me the charge.

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But instead, I cried a little inside and got back on my horse.

THEN a schoolbus full of children pulled up, and the kids went traipsing through the woods. Excellent.

 

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Very concerned about the endless line of children

 

Despite his absolute belief that this was a bad idea, P warmed up just fine. This time with bell boots that I found in my trailer.

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The kids were in the woods just to the left of this log, and while P handled himself just fine, the next jump- the tiniest green table you’ve ever seen, was cause for alarm.

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It took well over a minute for him just to approach the thing. I was so disappointed. This was supposed to be WARMUP for BN/N fences. He finally jumped it, but I won’t lie- I was a little crushed.

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Then put the warmup log and green box together.

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Next we made our way to a little feeder jump. Again, P was super concerned about the children and refused at first.

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Then jumped. Back to old Pilgrim ways, I suppose.

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Then we headed to the water, which thank goodness wasn’t an issue. Not that it ever has been, but you never know with P.

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And then I turned off my helmet cam to save battery, and forgot to turn it back on for a good long time.

 

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This is how hard I fail at helmet cams

 

P despised the skinny box and gave me more problems there than it was worth.

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The tiniest up bank, despite up banks never being an issue before, including the BN/N one he was fine with 2 weeks ago, caused much snorting and backing away. Until it didn’t.

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So we strung together the bank to a small red table. And that went ok.

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At this point, I was frustrated. We’d been at this for awhile, and P was acting like he’d never been on an XC course before, let alone dominated ALL THE XC JUMPS THIS ENTIRE MONTH.

I’ve said it before, but P has never been the most fun to school in a group with. He doesn’t do well with the jump, stop, wait, rinse and repeat. And while he’s fine when it’s just him and I, even if we’re in a sea of strange horses/riders at shows, he seems to know when we’re with friends and gets very attached to the other horses we’re with. So J sent us to the beginning to string together a course- the feeder, through the water, over the box, up the bank, and over the red table.

And, well, it worked. P seemed to have found his mojo. Noted.

Then we continued up the super steep hill to a BN rolltop. It was a little uneven terrain, which caused some steering issues, but he got over it.

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Why does that N fence next to ours look so tiny in pictures and yet so MASSIVE in real life?

 

Then hit up the final part of the course so Sara and Gem could jump some jumps. They’d been incredibly patient (Ok, Sara was, Gem…not so much!) waiting for P and I to get our acts together.

We hopped over a little log pile a few times each way. And thankfully there were no refusals here. Even though it’s tiny, P doesn’t discriminate against height when it comes to stopping at jumps.

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So then headed to the other side of the brush to jump another little red table.

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And then we decided that P needed one more small course to finish up. We started with the little log pile going downhill, to the NOVICE (finally) rolltop, bending line to the BN rolltop.

Individually schooling it, he kind of sucked. Or maybe it was me. When I went past the N rolltop, I had to avert my eyes. The thing looked un-jumpable.

But put it together and…voila!

 

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That right drift through…sigh

 

P got a rest day on Saturday, then Sunday we headed to Trainer B’s to work on…dun, dun, dun, dun, one strides, since last week P wasn’t too confident about that.

 

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From last week…rainbows and liverpools: cool. One strides? HARD NOPE.

 

After jumping the 2’6″ gate separately, P refused the oxer (2’6″) multiple times, before sucking back through the exercise.

$1 million to anyone who can guess what Trainer B told me?

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Kidding. I won’t actually give you $1 million because it’s too easy. P needs to be more forward.

Wait, where have I heard that before?

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Oh yeah, Trainer B. Because the poor guy has to tell me that about 10,000 times per lesson.

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But each time we went through, it got better and better. Both ways. So Trainer B started the whole decorating and adjusting of jump cups stuff that he likes to do. I CAN SEE YOU RUNNING WITH THE ADDITIONAL POLE, TRAINER B.

When we finished, P had jumped the 2’6 (or maybe it was 2’9″ by the end, I can’t remember) oxer to the 3′ (or 3’3″- remember, these heights are interchangeable to Trainer B) gate. And rocked it. I pushed him past my comfort zone and he responded. Even the owner of the barn that Trainer B trains out of said we looked way different than when we first started with Trainer B. In a good way.

 

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I couldn’t quite look at the ginormous gate with both eyes.

 

I love it.

And despite our non-perfectness, I guess I still love him too.

 

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P in his permanent bell boots with pasture mate Sandero giving the side eye.