Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Uber-Green Drama Queen Meets Lucinda Green

So let's discuss wise life choices.  This would include things like:
- making sure your horse is reasonably broke and confident in at least three gaits and two directions before going out in public
- practising loading a baby horse before actually needing to go somewhere
- exposing your baby horse to being ridden with other horses before going out in public
- teaching your horse to jump out of at least two, preferably four, gaits before attending a jumping clinic
- or at very least, teaching your horse to jump before attending a jumping clinic
- ensuring horse is fit and consistently in work
- ensure rider is fit and consistently in work *g*
- wear broken in gear
- be well rested

Anybody want to make a guess how many of those wise life choices I applied today?  Anybody?

That's right, absolutely none.  You're not new here...   Wise life choices I *did* make:
- remembered Lucinda's running martingale preference; found and packed one
- packed the trailer and cleaned tack the night before!

Yeah me.  So what if it's a *slightly* shorter list -- at least there's a list!  Does two things count as a list?

Some of you may know that I tend to love attending clinics.  I go to a *lot* of them, with a lot of different people and riding a lot of different horses.  In hopes of learning, well, a lot :)  Of all the clinicians I've ridden with, Lucinda Green is by far my favourite.   I've ridden with her a few times now, always with different horses and always had a good result.  So when April 1 (April fools...  hmmmm were the fates trying to tell me something?) arrived and the clinic was officially open, I sent in my entries.   At the time, Lexi was in the middle of a growth spurt, so slightly unbalanced, but for the most part she could w/t/c and jump small fences.  Sweet.  I figured with 10 weeks till the clinic, and spring theoretically arriving, I should be able to introduce her to most of the things on the "wise life choices" list...   Even including another jump clinic.  I was going to ride her when Waylon came to our place.  Great plan -- introduce a challenge in a controlled environment where she's comfortable.  Horse training 101.

All good right?  The day before the first clinic she went lame.  Stone bruise.  Okay, nbd.  Except the bruise took *weeks* to heal!  I got on her again, *this* week.  Oh dear.  So she hasn't jumped in...  about six weeks.  Has been ridden in the sandring once.  Has never really hacked or even pretended to do XC.  Certainly hasn't been schooling.  Is very much not fit (nor, for that matter, am I!).   But we can still go right?

Knowing this was a Very Bad Idea, I called Arthur to ask how green the green group really was.  Emerald.  Sweet!  Just what we need.  He amazingly generously offered me the loan of one of his horses for the clinic if it wasn't going to work out with Lexi -- which, having ridden one of his horses before, I know would be a *ton* of fun!  But I really wanted to take my pony.  I've seen Lucinda work with greenbeans before and really like her methodology.

Alright, so...  Well rested.  Right.  First lesson in six weeks on Friday, Wits End on Sat -- which was awesome btw and will get its own post on the GRS Blog later this week!  My superstar students came 3rd and 4th. BUT, that property involves a *lot* of walking and a 5:30 am load time.  And we know how much I like mornings...  And then I was in the first group today.  Slightly better - 6:45 load time.  But still.  Rest = fail.

Also neglected to do any loading practice.  Ashley came out to help (thanks Ash!) but she doesn't actually have a ton (read "any") loading experience, so if Lexi chose to make that a drama moment, I'd be toast.  She loaded easily enough to come home though, so I had hope.  And sure enough, she walked right on following the sweet feed.  Woohoo!  She was *not* happy once she got on -- rocking truck and trailer together *sigh*  So can only hope she'll choose to get back on again tomorrow to come home!

Anyways - we got there!  Yeah!  She had some trouble unloading :(  But managed it injury free.  She grew a whole lot looking around, but was being manageable.  We found our stall (in my favourite of the three barns - pretty stoked about that.  hahaha little things in life!)  and she settled really quickly.  Yeah!  Tacked her up in there - didn't want to risk cross ties.  hahaha I'm only *mostly* insane!  I do know about picking our battles!  Then I put on my "worn three times" new field boots -- sure, may as well complicate the game with knees that don't bend and super-slippery boots.  No problem!

She was awesome when I led her into the ring.  It was raining and she was pretty huffy about that, but as far as brain-cells go...  I was super impressed.  Three other horses walking around, lots of people, little dogs, and strange place.  She was alert, but really not stupid at all.  I led her around the ring a couple times and then hopped on.  Needed Ashley to hold her so I could mount, but otherwise she was awesome.  We continued our exploration of the ring and I was soooo pleased with her.  A fourth horse joined us and she didn't care.  She was a little snarky toward one of the horses, so we kept our distance, but no meltdown with others trotting around/by/toward her.  And tbh, that alone would've been enough for me.  I could've dismounted and gone home and still been thrilled.   We loaded, went to a strange place, walked and trotted with strange horses, and kept her brain.  That's pretty good.

And *then* Lucinda got there.  That's right, you read all the way to here and the clinic hasn't even started yet!  Welcome to my life >;-P

We did the introduction thing and I was brutally honest about our complete lack of preparation and stated my willingness to sit out anything inappropriate or once Lexi got tired (two hour lesson people!  Lex has never been ridden more than 45 minutes, ever.  And has four days under saddle since being deemed sound.) And as the introductions were going on I realized that other people's ideas of "emerald" and mine differed slightly *g*   But, admittedly, all at an appropriate level for where we would've been had I actually *had* the 10 weeks to work with Lexi.  One an 18yo horse who's done intermediate.  hahaha fair though, being ridden by an entry rider and it absolutely was an appropriate group.  One that was a rescue/retrain that had a lot of challenges, so that seemed reasonable.  A nine year old who was competing entry -- they were probably the strongest of the group.  And a hunter horse/rider pair just learning to event.

So we're to head out and w/u over fences.  Two rules: no cantering (sweet!) and no runouts.  If the horse stops in front - okay.  Stay there till somebody comes and puts the jump down for you.  But do not let them go around.  And *most* of the fences were tiny skinnies.  But nothing over 2'.

Have I mentioned Lexi's never done a skinny?  And we only sort-of have steering.  And some of them were built on marshmellows, which I thought might be absolutely horrifying...
Even in the rain!
She was a *saint*.  Tried her little heart out.  Jumped everything on the first try.

So then it was time for course work.  "Can everybody jump out of the canter?"   Everybody else nods obediently.  Lucinda looks at me.  hahaha "Well I suspect we can...   Haven't actually done it before, but we *should* be able to."

Of course I volunteer to go first *g*   Partially because I'm *really* good at memorizing courses and confident enough to go first, and partially because I figured if we went first it'd make everybody else look really good *g*  hahaha   The rule for Lexi was trot the skinnies and if the world was good canter the easier fences.  Oh, and don't help in the canter.  Let baby horses make mistakes over baby jumps so they learn to develop their own eye.  Ummmmm a little terrifying.  Effective - Lex smartened up really fast and was super cool to ride.  But man we got some wicked jumps - I felt like I was being launched all over the place and my eq in some of those photos *cringe*  Oh dear...
Crazy bendy lines over skinnies.  Go superpony!
She did it!  On the first try!  There were a few dodgy jumps and a few unusual lines and distances, but she did it.   Canter wasn't really happening at all and she felt pretty sticky...  But she did technically go over everything *g*

Rinse and repeat.  We did several of these (with breaks inbetween so others could go of course).  And then Lucinda had us jump a skinny-less forward moving course (a challenge to design since there were only three non-skinny fences to work with) to get her jumping out of the canter.  And here she did let me help a little in that I was permitted to keep her reasonably collected and aim for the deeper spots rather than letting her launch herself wherever.  Tricky since...  Well...  We've only just started cantering to begin with -- collecting (or lengthening for that matter) is still a bit of a dream.   BUT she had so much impulsion and enthusiasm that I actually had something to work with and we got it done.
I was *so* happy with her!
And then we were dismissed from class *g*   I deemed that she would stick around for the rest of the class because hanging out eating while others jumped would be a good thing for her.  So I pulled off her martingale and loosened her girth and then left her with Ashley to go ditch my helmet, vest, etc before returning to the ring to be jump crew and listen in on the rest of the class.  (ummmm I'll do a summary of actual lessons learned tomorrow or the next day on the GRS blog).

The rest of my group jumped some bigger fences and slightly more technical lines, and then Lucinda pulled out two barrels and had them working on jumping out of the walk and practising the emergency rein contact on landing (ie - long reins, held out to the side, leaning back).  So as they were finishing and doing a recap I asked if I could walk Lexi past the barrels...

Now, keep in mind - until this point, Lucinda has seen nothing except a quiet superstar greenbean willing to try her heart out.  The fact that I mentioned in passing two hours ago that she has some drama-queen tendencies had either been forgotten or put down to exaggeration.  But I had a pretty good idea that the barrels were going to be exciting and thought it'd be good to at least let her see them.

"Well why don't you get back on?  We'll spread them apart and you can go through them a few times and work with her while the next group warms up."

Okay.  So I book it back to the barn to grab my helmet -- hesitate for a moment about my vest and decide it'd be stupid not to wear it since I was already there.  Opted not to bother with the martingale though -- we were already going to be going into the next group's time so didn't want to waste more.  Ashley gave me a leg up (I was very impressed by that since she doesn't have a ton of experience with it and there's more of an art to it than people think!) and we were set.
Seriously - you *can* fit through the gap...
My friend Adriana had separated the barrels and I suggested perhaps they should be wider apart.  She rolled her eyes at me, but obliged :)  And as we approached it became clear people were going to see the other Lexi... hahahha oh dear.  But even I underestimated her.  I was prepared for the quick stop or the speedy spin...  I was evidently not prepared for the "take one step and then jump the moon -- oh, and go sideways at the same time."  *sigh*  That whole be well rested thing?  That might've been good.  I might've been sharp enough to stick it then.  Alas, I was not.  One of my friends figured between Lexi's height (16.1 ish... = a little over 6') + as high as she jumped (guesstimating about 4') + the extra I got launched on top of that...  I was prob about 8-10' up when we parted company.  I would like to say I bounced, but sadly it was more of a dull thud.
Yeah - just like that.
I looked up to make sure she hadn't gone anywhere and wasn't tangled in her reins and then chose to just sit there for a second.  It was a good fall, as far as falls go.  I landed pretty much flat out and other than a headache and some stiffness, I'm totally fine.  I did, however, decide discretion was the better part of valour and led her through the barrels a few times before remounting *g*   When she started stepping through them like a sane horse, I got back on.
The barrels crept closer and closer together every few rounds...
Lucinda had to lead us through the first time, but then we were able to make it through.  There were a few mad dashes to the end of the ring to escape the scary monster that lives between the barrels, but she started coming back to me faster and faster.  Every few laps the barrels would be moved closer together and she'd jump them a few times and then chill again...

So it turns out Lexi can jump! 

And in the end they were actually together.  Wooho!  hahaha from the look on my face you'd think *I* was seeing gremlins too.  hahaha but actually I was thrilled that she was actually jumping it!  And that she demonstrated there's some power there when she wants it :)
Returning from one of our out-of-ring adventures
So we did that a bunch of times (it was scary every time) and then jumped around some "easy" stuff to end positively.  She was pretty excited by this point -- trotting after the fences wasn't such an option any more, but we got *the* most amazing canter!  I was just riding around grinning like a little kid.
Uphill canter much?
She got put away and I played ring crew/photographer for the next group.  Had a moment when I realized all the photos of my group were shot in HUGE size and had to figure out how to change the resolution so I could keep taking photos.  16g card filled in 150 photos.  Yikes.  I fit more than 2000 on that card the other day.  hahaha  Double duty kept me busy and I really enjoyed myself.

But at lunch time, I decided to *actually* be wise, and took Lexi for a walk around the xc course.  In hand - halter and leadline.  We walked through the field, down the bank, over the ditch and into the water.  Seriously!  I was soooo impressed.  The bank and the ditch were *massive* flying leaps that had me fearing for my life on the ground -- so tomorrow could be seriously entertaining.  The water she didn't want to go in at all, but I just waited her out standing in it and telling her she was a superstar...  She eventually joined me -- quite calmly actually.  The only problem?  The water's *deep*.  About half way up my thigh.  So I got very soaked.  After we were done playing I dumped the water out of my boots (they're surprisingly heavy when full of water!) but I still squished on the ride home.  bahahaha Lexi spooked at the noise the first few steps, but chilled eventually.  We went back over the ditch and up the bank on the way home -- still pretty horrifying.  Tomorrow should be highly entertaining.  But the only *real* goal is to hack out with other horses and maintain a brain.  Anything extra is merely a bonus :)

Finished with more ring crewing and photography.  Really having fun playing with my camera :)  And, pretty well as soon as I stopped riding the sun came out.  I had foolishly listened to the weather forecast (not like I haven't lived her my whole life or anything.  Sheesh.) and was prepared for all sorts of horrid weather, but not for sun.  So I'm a little toasted now.  hahaha ah well - at least it was a gorgeous day.

Oh, and Lucinda really likes my horse *g*  That pretty much made my day.  Just saying.

XC tomorrow.  And the barrels are part of a bank combination.  And a water combination.  Wish us luck :)   Or velcro -- methinks velcro would be more useful than luck!


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