Early Days

Galway Downs School (.)

The period is because it happened. We did not end up clinic-ing with Jil Walton, but to be honest my preference was do to a regular schooling with my trainer, so that worked out great. The morning started off on a bit of a stressful note due to a detour to find a Kinkos open early on a Sunday…anyway, we still got down to Temecula in good time so it worked out fine.

There were 5 of us riding total: 4 at the Novice/BN level, and one at Training/Prelim. Its always fun to have a group schooling together – team spirit and all that. Plus I love watching the others go, especially seeing my trainer in action on her green horse. I learn a lot by watching her school her horse.

From Left to Right: Wendy and Waters, Jessica and Storm, Myself and Spirit, Laurie and Elton, and Ashley and Brodie. Two quarter horses, two thoroughbreds, and one paint.  And yes, my bell boots are pink. 

Well, our schooling went…um… it went. My optimistic personality pressures me to look on the bright side and say it went well. More honestly, though, it did not. Perhaps a positive/negative chart will help me more honestly describe it:


  • It was a beautiful day.
  • I didn’t fall off.
  • We did eventually get over every jump we wanted to.
  • We did great with water.
  • Our down banks were not awkward leaps. 
  • We did a coffin complex.
  • My ability to school Spirit after refusals regarding straightness is improving.


  • We had lots of refusals. Lots.
  • Spirit felt heavy the entire time. 
  • It was obvious that Spirit was not going to help out at all. If I wasn’t riding 100% perfect, she simply wasn’t going to jump. 
  • Some of the refusals were dirty stops, and I had to reprimand Spirit harshly. It bothers me that she wasn’t a willing mount, and it was uncomfortable to punish her. 
  • I don’t know if Spirit enjoyed herself. I got mixed vibes from her.
  • I don’t know if I enjoyed myself. I do think I learned a lot and hopefully am a step closer to being a better rider, but emotionally it was hard for me to feel like such a failure. 
  • I feel like I disappointed my trainer, and I got the impression that the other riders were resentful that I was taking up the vast majority of Laurie’s attention and feedback. I like them all a lot, so I feel bad for negatively impacting their experiences. 
So, there it is. One of the other riders’ moms took video, and I should get a link within a week or so hopefully. But there were lots of riders and I’m sure most of the footage of Spirit and I are wince-worthy, so we’ll see. 
But on to a more fun and happy topic, CONGRATULATIONS to Nicku and Pongo of  The Polka Dot Periodical for a fabulous Ram Tap show!

2 comments on “Galway Downs School (.)

  1. It seems unusual (correct me if I'm wrong) for your willing jumping mare to all of a sudden not be. I hate to sound like this, but have you checked her saddle fit/had her hocks done, that sort of thing?

    I agree, it sucks to ride a horse that will never “give” you anything. Glad you stayed on and best wishes for your continued training.


  2. I figured out how to reply in comments! =P

    I've been having the same thought too lately about this transformation from a willing, brave mount to a sassy stopper. After speaking with a friend who has known Spirit as long as I have, it might be that Spirit didn't change overnight but rather slowly changed somewhere along the way but I just didn't allow myself to see it. Thanks for the best wishes – there's only two ways to fix the problem: train the rider, or train the horse (or both!)


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