Early Days

Ram Tap Schooling

So, last Saturday September 17th, we trucked up to Fresno for a cross country schooling (practice session) since the Horse Trials we had signed up for at The Meadows of Moorpark was cancelled  ='[  <– sad face. I was pretty excited for the schooling, and was expecting it to go pretty well since our last schooling at the Meadows went so great.

Unfortunately, the day did not go so well. Spirit and I struggled at the schooling, I pissed off my amazing trainer, my best friend and I got into a tiff, I did not feel well during the drive back, and our trailer blew a tire, so we didn’t get back to the barn until after dark. Yeah – not the best day.

In terms of mine and Spirit’s performance, our schooling was all too similar to the one we had a Shepherd after the June HT. Approach jump, refusal, spanking, re-approach, jump fine, repeat. Repeat again. Repeat yet again. Why are we still repeating? Sheesh I can’t believe we are still repeating! Damn it – repeat again! Plus Spirit added a few rears into the equation as well. Now, after some time we did get our act together and were able to do two mini-courses (6 to 9 jumps) without issue. We also did water, a ditch, and banks no problem.

The analysis is that when we got a refusal, I gave her a naggy little spanking rather than the world-is-coming-to-an-end whooping that I needed to. The root of that issue is my continual assumption that if she refuses, it is because of my bad riding, and therefore I’m not allowed to be upset at and/or punish Spirit severely. That just wouldn’t be right. However, it turns out that even if I do everything correct as a rider, she could still refuse. What? What’s that? A horse can be naughty?!?! Spirit is normally so good, I don’t even really have that concept in my brain. But alas, she was just being naughty and I let her get away with it by not bringing the wrath of hell when she refused. So, for next time, I need to be offended if she stops. I need to be confident that I am riding correctly, and I need to bring the wrath if she refuses. Tools in my belt: forcing to jump from a halt, whip “to draw blood” as Laurie puts it, loose reigns to prevent rearing, galloping/forward motion as response to rearing.

As to the social issues of the day – I offended Laurie during the schooling and I feel bad about that. I love and respect her so it sucks that I pissed her off. Here’s what happened: she told me to loosen a rein. I did, a few times, but she kept repeating it, so I dropped the rein from that hand. I guess the action came across more snotty than I meant it, because Laurie flat out told me that if I did that again, she’d drop me as a client. I won’t ever do anything even remotely similar to dropping a rein again, no matter how many times she tells me to loosen it!  And as to the tiff with my best friend – as with all tiffs it sounds more stupid than it feels in the moment (it was about sitting in the front seat with our trainer for the ride home). She and I just didn’t see eye to eye on what was fairest given everyone’s opinions including my trainer’s, and given my propensity for carsickness. But ultimately my friend got to sit where she wanted, my trainer got to have the discussion with me that she and I both wanted, and I didn’t throw up on anyone (by the way – TWO different gas stations didn’t stock ginger ale! I had to have an assortment of other clear sodas instead – but really? Really? No ginger ale? For shame).

Then the fun really started.

15 miles north of Bakersfield we blew a tire. My trainer was cool as a cucumber as she immediately pulled out her AAA card. Luckily the trailer had a spare tire and an awesome metal ramp (yellow thing in the picture), so we didn’t have to unload the horses on the side of the road to change a tire – we just had to roll up on the ramp.

Anyways, so we got back to the barn well after dark and well after dinner time. Luckily I packed a huge lunch, but I had to eat it very very slowly since my tummy was not doing great. I did not feel successful at the schooling, and social tensions really have a significant emotional and physical effect on me. I woke up the next morning feeling like crap, and it took a while before it went away. Oh well. Not every day is going to be a great day – just gotta brush yourself off and keep going. We’ve got two more schoolings coming up before entries for Ram Tap October HT are due.

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