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Monday, February 15, 2010

You cannot teach a schoolmaster

At this time last year I was happy when we could canter without running anyone over. It is amazing to me how quickly my baby is changing. She just turned 6 last week. She had a late start, partially because she just wasn’t ready as a 3 year old and partially because my husband, finances and career just last year allowed for me to afford the time and money that having a horse in Chicago costs. It is funny the stages that horses go through. Recently, I started to work canter walk… this has been quite the experience. My girl is one of extremes; she tries very hard and gets frustrated. (I am sure most of the stories I tell here will be about her extremes). So we worked the canter walk those were fine, literally took about a week for her to understand- so I thought to myself, this horse will be easy. Same thing happened when I introduced baby shoulder-in and haunches-in. so I attempt canter walk. First couple times she didn’t understand at all. We worked at it probably once per week for the last three months. Finally, it sinks in, she understands what I want and willingly halted. So I called it great, figured that was it!

I go out to the barn last week, (here comes the extreme I mentioned earlier) and suddenly we forgot how to move forward again from a halt. We are talking about temper-tantrums like crazy, bobbing head, telling me no, threatening to unseat me. So I can already tell that one day she will make a fantastic schoolmaster. She reminded me of my schoolmaster Rushonne. If I didn’t ask in just the right way, he would almost laugh and then just do whatever he wanted, so long as it is nothing close to what I was attempting to ask for. Gram in this moment reminded me of that fateful day on Rushonne, where I tried to get him excited before we entered the arena at a NAYRC qualifier at Detroit Dressage. I got after him in warm-up and in fact had the best warm up of my life. We entered main arena and began to trot around the outside, still the best he had ever felt. Then the bell rang. His ears went back, as if to say I will teach you KID. I prepared him for the centerline, A enter collected canter… ears back, canter slowed, he sat down… X halt ssss- oh shoot… rear, rear rear, kick out, hop buck…salute. The whole test was a disaster. He pretty much gave me the finger and taught me an important lesson- Never try to train a school master. They know more than you. Now Gram isn’t to this point yet, but I can tell she has it in her, to not take any crap if she thinks you are wrong.

By the end of the week Gram and I came to an agreement. I would work the canter halts sparingly and she would try not to get mad.

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