Here there be dragons...

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

Peter Gray Clinic with Argo

Those who've been reading this blog for some time will be aware that I have a history of riding somewhat dramatic horses.  They amuse me, what can I say?  Now I find myself with a bit of a dilemma in that I had a lovely weekend at a great clinic where absolutely nothing happened.   And that just doesn't lead to much of a story.  But I'm still being asked for said story ;)

For the non-horsey readers of this blog -- this one may be of limited interest.   Consider yourself forewarned :)

The smile pretty much sums up the weekend
The thirty second background -- after being grounded for two years thanks to the multiple eye surgeries, I started back riding on a part-time basis (3 days/week), two weeks ago.   In that time I've done one mini XC school which went really well, and two stadium jump schools -- both of which were moderately disastrous.   The horse I'm riding has a jumper background, with limited dressage or XC experience.  He is well past the young and stupid stage though and lovely to hack -- like a trail pony on a mission anyway.

So of course it'd be totally reasonable that I'd enter a two-day jumping clinic.   Why not? ;)

Day one started with an hour of dressage.   Our dressage still has a ways to go -- he definitely has the drunken gummy worm feel to him at times, our contact isn't as soft or as consistent as I'd like, and basics of suppleness and rhythm still need work.   But, he's super willing and coming along really fast (yeah hill work!) so I have hopes for us.   And fortunately what little we do have was sufficient for the requirements of this clinic :)

Then the jumping...   Our biggest issue jumping is that by about the third or forth fence in canter he grabs the bit and then we're out of control for the rest of the round.  Like audience watching with their hands covering their eyes kind of out of control.  We started with grids in the trot, and when the second fence went up he stopped on the first try.   Entirely too much work to get close to the base and push off -- much easier to throw himself at it with speed.   Lol.  Peter dropped it so we could get over it from the halt and life continued.   I honestly felt he was horribly behind the leg for most of the exercises, but Peter wanted me to leave him to it, so we did.  Jumps were all tiny sized so really no issue.   Grid ended up being a one stride to a couple bounces to a two stride and Argo had to work for it, but was behaving himself and landing reasonably under control.    Then we did a few different courses that all started with the grid, then would approach every line in trot but let them canter in-between.  He was awesome.  Calm and really rocked back (we stuck 7 strides in a 5 -- for which the comment was "you're really patient" lol).

While we never addressed the charging issue because we trotted every other fence, the line we put 7 in was riding in 4 the other day, so huge improvement.   I also felt vindicated because one of the first things I said after the first time I jumped him was that he needs lots of trot fences *g*.  Charging will get you over little ones, but once they start to get big, I suspect he'll hit the breaks.  Unless we build the strength and confidence first.   Also, I rode in jump stirrups for 2h and could still walk when I dismounted.  We're calling this a win.

Day two is XC!!!   Woohoo!!!   And basically I was grinning like a kid all day.   Kennedy and I went for a lovely trot warmup around the field -- fun start to the morning.   We started with walking over the ditch.   Now "ditch" in this case is really more of a terrain change.  So much so that it didn't matter when Argo chose to walk *in* it instead of over it.   Sheesh.  Ah well, at least it was drama free.   Over it and out over a little vertical, no problem.   The reverse?  Still no problem.  Awesome.

Onto the bank which again failed to provide good blog fodder as, while he was somewhat confused about the idea of walking up it, once we were allowed to trot or canter it all went smoothly.   Jumped a few little things -- I was pleased that he was at least pretending to listen to me when I asked him to come back.   Went and played in the water, jumping in and out over a little stadium fence.   Complete pro - lots of splashing and smiles :)

Pats for jumping in on the first try!
Did some work over a single barrel which took a couple tries, but really -- it'll be a very long time before I have another horse who comes close to Lexi's reaction to a barrel so gonna give that a win as well.   Jumped a course which I interpreted somewhat differently than Peter intended but which he then adopted for the rest of the group :).  hahaha win :).  And Argo was awesome.   Getting in super close to everything and looking at them all, but we canter a whole course with only very minor discussion about pace -- and never (to the best of my knowledge) scary.  I was pretty thoroughly pleased.   Would've liked to have done a little more and jumped some bigger fences, but at least it was 100% positive experience and Argo jigged his way up the hill going home all proud of himself.

So yeah -- was great to see some friends I haven't seen since my abrupt departure from the horse world, had ALL the fun riding XC after entirely too long, and am still able to walk today.  Win :)


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