Carter is thinking "did we really do this AGAIN today?!"

Carter is thinking “did we really do this AGAIN today?!”

My trainer is starting her last of three weeks in Florida; the last two being spent in Wellington, training with JJ Tate and ending this week with Charles de Kunffy, which has meant three weeks of practice at home for me and Carter.

At first, I was so concerned about the span of the time between her departure and her return and the seeming chasm of time and space void between on our own. I was still unsure that we could ride without her being in the arena. I was still unsure of the sounds, the mirrors, the barn. After all we were just entering week five in the new barn. Silly…yes. Now, I see just how silly.

Sure, I also took on breaking in new winter boots. Sure, we had a day of sliding snow and ice falling from the roof. Sure, we shared the arena with a horse that Carter had never met before.

All these things I now realize gave us an unparalleled opportunity. An opportunity to learn. An opportunity to bond, to practice, to gain confidence. Each ride progressed. Each time we relaxed more, connected more, and built our partnership. Together, without the influence of anyone else. Just me and Carter. It has been incredibly rewarding. The last two rides have been great. Sure, we still need to perfect our geometry. And, yes, we still need hours of getting that canter depart and consistency down. But, realizing that we only have a handful of rides on our own have made me relish this time more than I ever thought possible.

It hasn’t been all ribbons and carrots, mind you. Those new winter boots mentioned earlier have got to be the squeakiest things ever! I could use the squeak as a metronome if I was creating a freestyle. Each post (squeak) Carter’s ears would singularly twitch (squeak). Each post I would (squeak) cringe. But. My feet were warm! That lasted only until the temperatures closed in on freezing… now, I’m back to my regular boots and things are going better! No twitchy ears, no more metronome. Just us…and focus.

I’ve also had a few training sessions in horse whispering. You see, the grand 15 acre pasture that the boys enjoy is on a hill….okay, it’s really like scaling a small mountain. Now, add ice, snow, and mud.

Now, add herd mentality (that my boy Carter is thriving in) and my novice turn in/out skills….and what can you picture? If you see chaos, it’s close. Hysterical laughter wouldn’t be close. It has certainly added to my humility and character!

An opportunity

One more week – we will enjoy each and every minute

Now, I know there are a few key ingredients to successfully encouraging horses to get down and up the mountain. 1) the pink grain scoop  2) a lunge whip and 3) a lead mare mentality. See, without my trainer’s trip I would have missed  these experiences for which I am thankful.

One more week. Four more rides. We will enjoy each and every minute. My trainer also mentioned the show list. So when she returns, I see influence from some of the best trainers in the sport today. I see a list of goals, including moving from schooling shows to competing at Region 2 championship. I see time in the saddle well spent toward achieving that, and more.

Carter and I are ready! Bring it on!

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