Friday, August 28, 2009

Who'll be the lucky ones who make it all the way?

So, I have been horribly remiss about updating this. I suppose a part of it is simply being out of sorts at the entire 'horse thing' going on. I'll give a runup of what's been going on and how things went--and then a series of updates pertaining to 'now'! They may come in a series of posts, depending on how long things are!

I did eventually go to the Will Faudree clinic on father's day weekend. It was interesting-Eagle was far more interested in staring at everything and trying to "gogogo" to really settle down. I was a touch disappointed. He had been so fantastic up to that point that I really was hoping to make a point to everyone who had seen him and I and gone "That'll never work". It wasn't unmanageable of course, but I was nervous the first day and really locked up on him. As a result, we were in that fatal game of tug o' war. In retrospect I'm actually fairly glad that Eagle wasn't 'gold'.
If he went into it being so good, the advice I would have gotten would be great, the impression, too, would be nice-but what would I take away form it? Instead, I had a great learning experience.
It was all about sitting deep in the tack, even coming behind the motion (particularly at the canter) and letting go of his face. Instead, use my body to regulate it-which is a common concept but when I get nervous I lock up every which way.
The second day was much better. I was much more relaxed and far more interested in my horse than making an 'impression', which is nice. As a result of me being calmer, Eagle was fantastic! Or, mostly. We were working on canter/halt (particularly after fences). When he didn't stop soon enough, we backed him up.

This comes with a disclaimer. My horse has never really been taught to back up beyond a few steps here and there to straighten at the halt. It's just nothing he ever learned-and he's not particularly comfortable, nor proficient at it. He was doing very well for the first hour or so (we rode for about an hour and twenty minutes both days). However, after one particularly 'interesting' fence-he left long, I asked him to halt-we stopped-and then the instant he felt the contact asking him to back, he went up instead.

Eagle has reared with me-perhaps twice-in the past, and I've always handled it well. While he won't (cannot?) buck under saddle, rearing has always been the "Hey you, I'm at my limit"-mentally, physically or otherwise. However, this time he went up and spun. I really had no chance to begin with. I've seen the video (And oh yes, all of this is on tape) and it was just ugly. By the time I realized what was going on, I had to bail. It was getting into the sketchy territory of possible falling over backwards onto me.

I rolled off, didn't land too badly. Got back up and brushed myself off (scraped cheek and elbow, bruise on hip) and went to get the horse. (He was walking away from Will and the jump setters). I got up, he wandered back over to me. Will got on him (he rode him briefly on day 1, too, to see what 'we were dealing with') and Eagle was put into pony detention.

Was made to canter over fences, do circles, ect-and do them all at the pace the rider wanted. Anyway, I pretty much got back on after and then did a few lines. Nothing too dramatic, I wasn't really shaken. Falling is a part of it, you know? Regardless of how, it'll happen from time to time and if you're going to get hung up on it then you really shouldn't be doing it. The manner of how I fell was perhaps the ugliest I've ever had-rearing isn't something to screw around with, I freely admit-but at the end of the day, Eagle is mine and for better and for worse, we're in the long haul.

After we popped over cute little things, we got to play at being actual eventers! Enough of the flatwork and the grid work, we were actually using the little water fence the arena had built in on the edge. All four of us (four per class) were told to just walk in and around the water. No biggie, Eagle's seen it before-he'll look but if you give enough leg, he'll go in.

We walked right in, and then hopped out on the bank when it got too crowded. We were told to just come around and trot at it and trot out. Um, apparently my horse has been given a personality transplant. He locked onto it and in the last stride out, took off at it. That was quite the experience. Anyway, cleared the lot with flying colors. Eagle and water and banks, are no problem what so ever.

So, all in all-the clinic was interesting. I was in a group of riders who either were on made horses or were reriders on very forgiving horses of their own and I felt a bit out of place on my hot, hot, hot TB. But I wouldn't have changed it for the world. I learned loads, and really-what I needed to know, I did.
I don't need the affirmation that my horse is a nice horse, I don't need to recognize the people saying I'm overhorsed. There aren't many people who could have come this far with the horse I have, and still be standing at the end. So who knows who the real winners are.
I'd like to think that, in part, I'm one-because Eagle and I have grown so much, both as individuals and as partners.