Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Cross-Training; HP's Gone Wild!

Brace yourselves, Tucker fans. . . Tucker and I are really taking this cross-training thing seriously. First, a dressage clinic, and now, cross-country schooling with our friends Dom and CP:

Tucker falls in love with yet another pony...

Haha, okay, so I didn't really go wild, but when I strapped on a safety vest and went marching into the water complex, my inner Hunter Princess just stood there with her mouth gaped open in shock. But Tucker and I had huge smiles on our faces!

Tucker LOVED the water and did lots and lots of splashing.
This is the weirdest horse show we've ever been to...
but I like it!

Dom and I trotted in circles around the water complex giggling like idiots (Best Carousel EVER!) until some real eventers came over the hill to actually school the water complex (the look on their faces was priceless) and we decided to venture elsewhere. . . .

When we tackled the first jump of the day, Tucker was, shall we say, a little bit impressed with the natural obstacles he encountered. Always the gallant hero, Tucker decided that just in case any predators were lurking below, he should clear them by at least four feet:

Scopey, ain't he?
But as the day progressed, and Tucker got the hang of this cross country thing, he relaxed into himself and started jumping more like his normal adorable self, clearing them by a reasonable amount of space:

Such a good boy!

And so brave!

The funniest part of the day, for me, was when I walked my little hunter up to take a look at the bank before I asked him to jump out of the water and onto the bank (you know, given that we've never done anything like that before, I figured I should give him the benefit of the doubt and let him have a look first). Tucker's response? "Oh! Exit that way? Okay, hang on Mom!"

Note the length of my reins....

Clearly, this horse was a five star eventer in a past life or something. He had such a good time. I was so shocked and so over-the-top thrilled at how brave, sane, and willing he was. This horse really is game for just about anything!

My favorite pictures from the day are below, and there are more here on Dom's website (along with pictures of Dom's amazing almost-fall-and-impressive-save, and some great shots of CP the Pony, who was a total rock star).

Water + Horse = Permanent Grin.

Mike laid on the ground to take this, he's pretty brave himself.

This horse is gorgeous, if I do say so myself.

Photo credit for all of these goes to Dom's boyfriend Mike. And ladies (those of you who follow Dom's blog), since I know that there are quite a few Mike fans out there, and having met him I know now that this will embarrass the hell out of him, I want you to know that Mike is just as charming and helpful and good-looking in person as he appears on Dom's blog. He made a comment about being happy to be spending a day around horses -- no, I'm not kidding -- and I just about drove the truck and trailer off the highway. It's a good thing Dom is so incredibly wonderful or else I think we'd all have to hate her.

Oh and I almost forgot! I met Ozzy!! Well, I got molested by Ozzy, is more like it. There are certain horses I know (you may be familiar) that, despite the plain brown wrapper, stand out in a crowd. Ozzy is definitely one of them. You can see his personality from a mile away. He and I were instant friends. He showed me a bunch of his tricks, then pointed out all his most itchy spots and let me scratch them, and then we kind of made out. I know, I know, I barely know the guy, but sometimes when the mood strikes, you just have to go with it. I must say, there is just something about a big bay gelding that tugs at my heartstrings:

Ozzy (photo by Dom)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dr. Norton Weighs in on the Row Boat Incident

Dr. Norton, Oscar, and Marty
Dr. Norton, who runs Norton Veterinary Consulting & Education Resources, has been a friend of mine since we were both riding small pony hunters and studying for spelling tests on the bus to school.  She's a Tucker fan too, and did a great blog post today about The Umbrella Study, in response to the post I did yesterday about Tucker's encounter with a deadly row boat.  I found this study fascinating -- go check it out.  It's cold hard proof that our horses absolutely feed off of our emotions and our thoughts.
After reading about the Umbrella Study I thought back on the ride.  I think we all know that I must have been wondering if Tucker was going to behave himself on our walk around the lake.  I was probably feeling really comfortable while we took the path we always take, but as soon as we rounded the turn, making a right instead of a left (onto unfamiliar territory), I'm willing to bet my heart rate went up, sending all kinds of early warning signals to Tucker.  It's no coincidence he spotted the row boat/saber tooth lying in wait just after we rounded that turn.  And I bet my heart rate continued to increase with every spook and spin, and probably didn't go back to normal until we reached the row boat itself and Tucker didn't seem all that scared, which in turn signaled to Tucker that everything was indeed fine, cueing him in that it was okay to proceed around the lake.

In sum, I'm willing to admit that I started it.  Tucker is (once again) the brains of this operation.

Only as scary as you make it...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trust Walk

Ever noticed how a lot of things in riding follow the old "chicken or the egg" principle?  Sometimes it's tough to know who is feeding off of whom, and who started it.

I was pretty much fully recovered physically from my fall last week by Thursday (thanks to a steady routine of Sore-No-More, Advil, and Vodka), but the mental effects lingered well into the weekend.  I've only been bucked off my horse once before (I've mentioned he's basically a saint, right?), a few years ago, and I got pretty hurt, so it was a few weeks before I could get back on.  After that fall, I found myself terrified of him, and had to lunge him before I got on (yes, the big sweet overgrown labrador, on the lunge line, for no reason at all, looking at me like I was nuts).  This time was far less traumatic, but I still found myself feeling overly cautious when I climbed back into the tack.  When he spooked at a jump standard as we trotted past it, I couldn't help but wonder -- am I creating this, because I'm worried about it?  They read us so well, it's entirely possible that I was giving off some weird vibes.

So after the ride, we went for a long walk.  There is a beautiful pond on the farm and I wanted to go walk around it.  Tucker had never been back there, and ordinarily I would try to take him with a buddy the first time.  But I felt strongly, on this beautiful Spring morning, with the birds chirping and the sun shining and everything smelling like sunshine and flowers, that we needed some bonding time.  So we headed out alone, and Tucker marched along like a champ, enjoying the breeze, ears forward, tail swinging, until we got about 100 yards away from the pond.

That's when we spotted the Row Boat Tied to the Tree.  Not something that would scare you or me, but Tucker explained, rather calmly [picture the voice-over on a National Geographic documentary], standing stock still in his tracks, that he is a 1200-pound, juicy, tasty, lean, flight animal, and he was therefore altogether NOT in the habit of nonchalantly approaching unidentified objects that could very well turn out to be sleeping predators just waiting for a mid-morning snack.  It's just plain common sense.  Obviously.

As I asked him to move forward, he became insistent that turning and running was for my benefit as well, and made a few bids to spin, which I somehow avoided by sitting still and guiding him forward with an opening rein.  Tucker, on the other hand, was in FULL DRAMA LLAMA MODE.  He is, after all, primarily responsible for my welfare, and will bravely escort me to safety in the face of certain danger, when necessary.  So we took about ten steps at a time, stopped, threw the periscope up, and stared at the row boat/sleeping jaguar, about ten times.  I tried to reassure him that it was just a boat.  He said, "I DON'T KNOW FROM BOATS."  I tried to reason with him, I asked him what else would be beside a lake besides a row boat?  He sighed and explained that horses don't have the time or energy for that kind of logic.  Spook now, think later, live to tell the tale.

Once we got about ten feet from the boat (after a meandering, circling, stop-and-go journey), Tucker lowered his head, snorted, sighed, and said "Ohhhhhhh.  That's not scary.  Sheesh mom, you should really lighten up."  And then proceeded to walk past it, unasked, as though nothing had occurred.  I burst out laughing and gave him a pat. Was he playing games with me?  Did I anticipate that he would spook at the boat, and put the idea in his head?  Or did I handle it just right, calmly encouraging him to walk forward, knowing all along that once he saw it, he wouldnt' be afraid?  (You may notice, new readers, that I tend to overthink things, just a tad.)

Then we got to the Trust Walk part of our ride.  Walking around the lake, we had about six feet of flat-ish surface, with a steep drop into the woods to our right, and water to our left.  Not wanting to swim or somersault, I explained to Tucker that I was counting on him to be brave.  If he spooked, we'd be in trouble.  So it was up to him -- I was relying on him to take care of me.  Wouldn't you know it?  Tucker didn't spook once.  Not at the squawking geese, not at the huge upturned tree, not at the picnic table.  We came to a shady spot under a big tree, and Tucker stopped, cocked a hind leg, and seemed to be pausing to take in the scenery.  He was right, by the way -- it's beautiful out there.  The pond, the meadow, the trees, the wildflowers.  And as we stood there, just a little girl and her big brown horse, I realized that as soon as I trusted him, he morphed back into the trusty steed I know and love.

We walked back to the barn on the buckle, blissful and relaxed.  I fell in love with those giant ears all over again (for the 100th time), and stayed in a good mood for the rest of the day.  Amazing how they do that for us, isn't it?  I don't remember who said it, but an older wiser horseman once told me that if you treat them like they're crazy, they'll show you crazy.  My goal for Wednesday's lesson:  treat him like the good boy I know he can be.  I get enough crazy in my life outside the tack, thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Congratulations to the winner of the first ever TTW Giveaway.  One of our facebook fans (now at 125 and counting!), Beth Stelzleni, of S-Squared Eventing at Wishing Tree Farm, is the big winner of a Sidelines Magazine subscription!  Congrats Beth, and thank you for liking the blog!

Beth says she never wins anything (though her show record speaks to the contrary), so I'm very happy she won our giveaway!  Beth is originally from Florida, and is now an eventing and dressage trainer based out of Athens, Georgia.  Beth has been riding for over twenty years.  She says this makes her sound old, but I've been riding even longer, and I still think of myself as a kid (with a law degree. . . how did that happen?) so I don't think twenty years of riding amounts to old age at all.  She started out in hunter world (I knew I liked her) and now competes in eventing, dressage, and even ventures back over to H/J land to compete in the jumper ring as well.  She enjoys teaching students in all of these disciplines. . . so if you're in the Georgia area and in need of a good coach, maybe you can look Beth up!

Beth, incidentally, has also put in a specific request for an Equestrian Heartthrob of the Robert Redford variety, and I must say that man has classic good looks that never go out of style, so I am more than happy to oblige.

Here you go, Beth!  How did I do?

Thank you all for liking TTW on facebook and for participating in the giveaway.  Hopefully there will be many more where that came from!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tucker's Mid-Life Crisis

Remember how Danny changed
 after that first summer?
My horse appears to be suffering from a mid-life crisis.  He did just turn ten, after all.  Seems to be in the midst of some sort of existential dilemma, I'm afraid.  Perhaps it's an identity crisis?  He's been a good guy for so long, maybe he's just experimenting with the bad-boy persona.  Feeling his wild oats, literally.

I had a jumping lesson yesterday and all started out well.  We actually had some real lead change breakthroughs (!). We worked on counter-cantering, switching from outside to inside bend, and then we'd ask for the change just before the corner by pushing him out, stepping my weight to the outside and then asking lightly with my outside leg.  I missed a few at first, but once I got it, they were great -- smooth, and relaxed, and clean.  Everyone's always told me the counter-canter is a great tool for learning changes, but I feel like now it's finally clicking for me.

Then we started jumping, and things started off fine while we were working on some single verticals on a circle.  Then Tucker's turnout buddy left the ring, which shouldn't be that much of a crisis, unless you a big fresh horse looking for a good excuse.  He was clearly tense, but thus far behaving (other than squealing -- which I could always do without), and I figured he'd get over it in a minute. When we added another vertical on the diagonal, landing with a sharp left turn, Tucker was a bit strong -- pulling me to the jump on the last stride, then grabbing the bit and rooting the reins on landing.  Still rideable, but less than pretty.  Then we added another vertical on the diagonal, off the short turn, going toward home, and all hell broke loose.  Tucker apparently mistook that vertical for the starting gate at Belmont Park, so we landed going Mach 10.  (Not exactly the stuff that winning hunter rounds are made of).

So, the next time we jumped that vertical, instead of heading straight down the back stretch -- er, diagonal -- we opted to land and continue turning left back to the rail.  Tucker did not approve of this plan at all, and voiced his opinion with some head shaking and more rooting of the reins, but at this point I was still trying my best to ignore him.  The next time we came to this fence, again planning to turn left, Tucker decided he had had quite enough and opted forego the subtleties of head tossing in lieu of a more definite statement. 

It was one of those jumps where you know before the horse leaves the ground that things are going nowhere good.  You know that feeling when the horse grabs the bit between his teeth, jumps the meager 2'6" vertical beneath him like it's the last fence of the Aachen Grand Prix, and lands with every muscle flexed and ready for launch?  Yup, it was one of those.  In the midst of an extremely athletic series of leaps, twists, broncs, and bucks, I heard a voice in my head say, quite calmly actually, "You are not staying on this one.  Just fall."  Then, because Tucker is so gosh darn tall and was roughly ten feet in the air at this point to begin with, the voice said, a little more panicky, "Where the heck is the ground?!"

It was just like this, except I was in the fetal position at this point.
THUD.  Oh yes, there it is.  Thankfully, we just got new footing in the outdoor ring, and it was a soft landing.  Other than some scrapes on my arm from the sand and what is sure to be a splendid bruise on my butt, I'm completely fine.  Still, the makers of Advil may send me a thank you note for my patronage today. 

After we caught the wild beast, Lindsay got on and jumped him for about 15-20 minutes straight.  She was firm with him to start out with, and had to pull him up when he landed and threatened to repeat his dazzling PBR performance, but as soon as he started behaving she rewarded him by being soft again.  It didn't take him long to realize that life is a whole lot easier when he plays by the rules.  I got back on and jumped a single vertical on the circle a few times, then did my little course twice more.  By now I had my horse back.  I was able to ride really softly to each fence, give him a nice release, and he was willing to wait or calmly extend his canter, as requested, no emergency dismount necessary.  He even seemed a bit contrite.

This isn't the first time in the past few weeks that I've had a rough jumping session with him.  There was this ride, where he wasn't naughty but really strong, and there were a few others in between that weren't exactly stellar.  Basically, he just hasn't been as rideable as usual, but I was chalking it up to Spring Fever.  Now it's clear that we have something that needs to be addressed, so of course I'm making my usual rider list of "what could be causing this" and will be going through the isolation of variables process until I figure out a solution (you know the usual suspects: training, attitude, pilot error, discomfort, ulcers, feed program, etc.).  I swear, teams of NASA scientists have nothing on a rider trying to figure out her horse's most recent change in behavior.

This week's plan is to have Lindsay do two jump schools with him during the week, and I'll take another lesson this weekend, to see if a few pro rides will bring him back to his senses.  He didn't jump that much this winter, so it's possible he's just a bit over-zealous now that we're back outside and doing courses.  Let's hope it's that simple.

Maybe I should watch Grease again. . .  Sandy sure seemed to know how to straighten her bad boy out.

p.s. - Today is the last day to enter my Giveaway!  Like Tucker the Wunderkind and Sidelines Magazine on facebook for a chance to win a free subscription to Sidelines.  Winner will be announced tomorrow on Tucker's facebook page.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Equestrian Heartthrobs

Okay, enough of the cute pony photos and sappy birthday posts. . .   I know why I was really invited to Sidelines.  I've had a rather unpleasant week, so I needed a little fun.  I decided this time to post one of each of the guys that have been requested from my readers via the facebook page or in comments on earlier blog posts. . .   although I draw the line at Gyllenhaal.  Seriously ladies, his nose takes up half his face.   Anyway, I hope you all enjoy these.  I am officially taking requests. . . .

Equestrian Bradley Cooper:

Equestrian Brad Pitt:

Equestrian George Clooney:

Equestrian Matt Damon:

Equestrian Patrick Dempsey:

Equestrian Johnny Depp (back by popular demand):

And, back by (my own) demand, Equestrian Ryan Reynolds:

Hope that made your day a little brighter.

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Niece's First Pony Ride!

This is quite possibly going to be my most favorite blog post ever -- I finally got my 2-year-old niece, Ella, on a real pony (for those of you who are new to the blog, I have been hatching this evil plan encouraging Ella to love ponies since roughly a few months after she was born).   It was quite possibly my happiest day as an aunt.  She loved it!

The pony in question is Fuzzy, who belongs to a friend of mine.  Some of you may remember from this post, in which Tucker fell madly in love with Fuzzy.  Fuzzy was so wonderful all afternoon for his pony ride.  He apparently loves little girls just as much as they love him.  He was a perfect gentleman.  (I may also be in love with him.  It's easy to do.)

We arrived at the barn mid-afternoon, my niece bearing a bag full of apples and carrots and VERY excited about the prospect of ponies.

Once we actually met Fuzzy, we were a little bit less brave, which I expected.  So I gave Ella some time to get better acquainted with the pony, and she helped me lead him around the ring.

Fuzzy, saint that he is, stopped on a dime every time she wanted to come up and get a better look at him, and soon she had pet him all over and was voicing her strong desire to ride.  After holding her up a few times so she could see the saddle and where her feet would go, and where she'd hold the reins, she was ready to climb on.

It was all smiles from here on out.  That's grandma (my mom) in the background.  She has been down this road before... she knows a pony-crazed kid when she sees one.

Note that her heels are already down.  Never had a lesson.  I believe she's a natural.

This is my favorite photo of the day.  The blissed-out-I-love-ponies face. 

And this would be my second-favorite.

Or maybe this one...

Or this one....

Is there anything cuter than a tiny child grooming a tiny pony?

Ella is still talking about Fuzzy.  When they got home that night, Ella's mom asked her if she rode a horsie that day.  Her response?  "No Mommy, I rode a pony."  I ADORE this child.

I can't wait to bring her back for another ride.  I wonder if she'll be braver right from the start, or if it will still take some getting used to again.  I wouldn't know, I pretty much flung myself at every pony-type creature I ran into at her age.  Next time, we'll be stopping at Dover first to get a helmet that fits.  Everyone please remind me she's too young for me to buy an entire leadline outfit!!  But wouldn't she be so cute in garters and jods??? 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Birthday Boy

Today is Tucker's 10th birthday.  It's hard to believe we've known each other for ten years!  My, how the time flies.

On this day ten years ago...

I was a week away from graduating college.  I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.  So I planned my escape, to the farm in Connecticut where I worked every summer, to take a year off and figure myself out.

And then a few weeks later I met him...  he was goofy, and awkward, and afraid of everything, and -- to be honest -- a bit of a jerk.  The first time we met, he bit me in the stomach.  I didn't like him, though I'm ashamed to admit that now.  And I really didn't want to make time in my day to take care of an obnoxious yearling, when there was a barn full of beautiful show horses to be doted on.

And then, gradually, he started to like me.  He whinnied for me when I came out of the house in the morning.  He let me catch him.  He watched me teach my little up-downers in the afternoon.  He stole my baseball hats.  He played tag.  He licked my face like a dog.  He was willing to follow me anywhere.  He even lost his inexplicable fear of cross-ties, and spray bottles, and (???) the driveway.  He grew fond of taking naps with his head in my lap.  And I fell head over heels.

And look at him now.  He is big, and beautiful, and incredibly athletic.  He is smart, and willing, and good at his job.  He is funny, and sweet, and heart-meltingly affectionate.  He's quirky, and weird, and one of a kind.  I love him from his giant ears to his little white socks.  And, even though sometimes I wonder what I've done to deserve such a fantastic creature, somehow he loves me back.
Photo by Dominika Nawrot
I love you Boo.  Happy birthday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My First Giveaway! Win a Subscription to Sidelines!

Tucker fans, I have an exciting announcement!  Sidelines has generously agreed to let me give away a year's subscription to the magazine to one of my blog readers.  How cool is that?!
                                                   The May 2012 Issue
Entering the contest is easy -- all you have to do is like Tucker the Wunderkind and Sidelines Magazine on facebook between now and May 15th (you'll have to like both to be entered).  If you're already following Tucker and Sidelines on facebook, good news -- you're already eligible to win!  (And, you're already enjoying all the great stuff Sidelines has to offer and the hilarious stuff I find for your newsfeeds.  My apologies in advance if I ever make you spit coffee onto your monitors.)  And just in case you need another incentive to like Tucker the Wunderkind on facebook, Equestrian Ryan Reynolds and Equestrian Johnny Depp are there.  :)
On May 15th, I will pick one lucky reader at random and announce it on Tucker's facebook wall.  Why May 15th, you ask?  Well... that's the day that the new issue of Sidelines, featuring a one-page article about yours truly and the gorgeous Wunderkind, will be hitting the stands.  (It's okay if I giggle like a schoolgirl whenever I think about that, right?)
What are you waiting for?  Pull that smartphone out of the pocket of your breeches, wait until your boss isn't looking and log on, find an empty computer at school, borrow an ipad from the guy next to you on the train (hey, maybe he's cute)...  you get the idea.   Good luck!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cross-Training: Another HP Adventure in DQ Land

Those of you who have been following along for a while know that even though I am a devoted hunter princess, downright obsessed with all things hunter and worshipping at the hooves of the likes of Bases Loaded, Brunello, and Jersey Boy. . .  I do occasionally venture into the world of DQ's, and at one point Tucker and I rubbed elbows with a whole host of dressage enthusiasts (at our last barn, which we still miss very much).  Tucker and I even attempted a dressage test once, and thankfully our judges were kind and forgiving, albeit honest.
This past weekend we had another opportunity to dip our toes in the water of the dressage world, and took a clinic from Lynn Jendrowski.  I have no long-term goals of turning Tucker into a dressage horse, don't worry (though maybe someday, if we couldn't jump anymore for some reason, who knows).  But I recognize the need for good flat work -- you can't have a nice hunter round without being able to smoothly extend and collect, balance your canter, and move the horse laterally off your leg when needed.  Plus, if your horse doesn't have a solid foundation on the flat, he will fall on his face when you try to float the reins at him for the hack (ask me how I know this).

Lynn watched Tucker and I warm up and right away liked how he was naturally forward and willing to take the bit and stretch his nose down and out (we've been working a lot on that warm-up - yay for me!).   Then she tried to fix my straightness -- for those of you not familiar, I tend to twist like a pretzel.  I've pretty much mastered all my left arm issues.  My left arm and hand are right where they are supposed to be.  My right arm, however, seems to have a mind of its own.  It's more like a crazed chicken wing.  And I don't even like chickens.  I also twist my torso -- left shoulder back, right shoulder forward -- in both directions (not helpful, yet still I persist).  So we worked on getting my torso straighter, which made me feel crooked, but made Tucker much happier.

Then we worked on getting my weight on my inside seat bone (something that felt completely wrong but I understand is correct) and getting me stretching my leg down through my thigh.  This last one I couldn't grasp at all -- I actually needed to stop and have Lynn physically put my leg where she wanted it.  To be honest, my legs just don't seem to move like that, I have no muscle memory for it, but I'll work on it.   And of course, we worked on me sitting up.  I heard the oh-so-familiar refrain:  "Shoulders back.  Back more.  Even more.  Use your stomach muscles!  There!  No wait, shoulders back again.  Back more.  More!"   I've come to the realization that I will never sit up enough to pass muster as a DQ, but I'll work on that too.  It does really help me control the hind end.  Especially on a big, long horse.  [Insert constant inner monologue whining about how hard it is here.]

Once we made these much-needed adjustments, Lynn asked what I wanted to work on, and I targeted two things:  downward transitions from canter to trot, and leg yields.  Tucker stiffens and braces through his downward transitions, and he gets crooked and resistant through his leg yields.  I have long suspected this is my doing, but haven't been able to pin point what I'm doing wrong.  Lynn fixed our downward transitions with one simple aid:  outside leg.  DQ's, you're going to cringe at this, but here's a confession:  I've never applied my outside leg for a downward transition.  Ever.  Hasn't occurred to me.  But guess what?  It worked brilliantly.  Tucker gave me three beautiful transitions in a row.  You can hear Tucker sighing in relief, can't you?  Finally.

Then we moved on to the leg yields.  If you haven't guessed it by now, my twisting is the culprit for the issues I'm having with Tucker's straightness.  In the leg yields, I'm actually sending his haunches first, and then when I try to catch him in my new outside rein to straighten him out, he stiffens against it because I've made him crooked and he has nowhere to go.  It took way more tries than I'd like to admit, but eventually, I kept my shoulders square and facing straight ahead, and used my leg, rein, and seat aids together, and voila -- straight horse.

I have to say though, my favorite moment of all was when Lynn wanted to sit on my horse for a few minutes.  I so rarely get to see him go, it was a treat for me.  She rides beautifully, and Tucker was oh-so-happy to have a pro on his back.  He really did me proud, and he looked absolutely gorgeous.  Plus, she told me he was a gorgeous horse, very well schooled, and clearly knows his job and wants to please.  That's my boy!

 A lot of what Lynn wanted me to do was too radical a departure from the way I ride for me to change it in one clinic, but I do want to work toward it.  Baby steps, folks!  We are going to keep working on all of it, especially using the mirrors in the indoor at night.  I want to be straighter, and I want Tucker's flat work to be the best it can be, because I want him to be as adjustable and responsive as possible for the ring.  It really, really helped to get a new perspective.  How many of you have taken from trainers outside your discipline?  Who do you go to?  Do you find it helps?