Friday, June 26, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage is Protected by 14th Amendment!

I know this is a non-sequitur among my usual equine-related ramblings, but today is SUCH an important day in the law that really if I didn't recognize today's decision here on the blog, I should get my J.D. revoked.  It's sort of amazing that this happened during my legal career.  Law students will be reading this decision for the rest of all time in their Constitutional Law and Family Law classes.

Today, on a beautiful sunny day in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which is a case that has made its way through the federal courts.  Petitioners are fourteen same sex couples, challenging laws in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee that prohibit them from obtaining a marriage license.  The District Courts (the lowest level court) in each of these states held the laws unconstitutional, but the victory was short lived.  The states appealed to the Sixth Circuit (the intermediate court), which consolidated all the cases and upheld the laws.  So the petitioners appealed.

Today the Supreme Court (the highest court in our country, which I'm sure most of you know) reversed the Sixth Circuit, and issued a truly landmark decision finding that "the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State."  (And the crowd goes wild!)

I happen to agree with the ruling with all my heart (it brings tears to my eyes), so this is going to be kind of a biased summary of the decision, just a disclaimer.  But I'm going to do my best to put the Court's reasoning into plain English, because that's sort of a lawyer's job, after all, and I think regardless of where you fall in this debate, it's important to understand where the Court was coming from in reaching its decision before you jump into the ring.

So, the Court began by recognizing that marriage, as a social construct, has changed.  Arranged marriages are on the decline, and laws of coverture are gone (which in a nutshell used to say that once a woman is married she's basically livestock with no rights at all).  The Court noted its prior decisions recognizing the rights of interracial couples to marry, and the rights of prisoners to marry, which I expected to be used as cornerstones. The Court also recognized its prior decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which did away with laws making same-sex intimacy a crime.

The Court went through four principles underlying the "right to marry" generally, and found these principles to apply with equal weight to same-sex marriages.  First, marriage is about the right to personal choice and the concept of "individual autonomy."  This was key to the Loving v. Virginia decision regarding interracial marriages.  Second, marriage is a unique, two person, intimate thing (oh stop Justices you're making me blush!).  The Court looked back at its decision is Griswold where they recognized married couples are allowed to use contraception (can you imagine if that was a right you had to fight for?).  Third, marriage is good for children and families. "Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser." Fourth, marriage is important to the social order.  There are all kinds of benefits tied to marriage, and the Court recognized that without being allowed to marry, same-sex couples "are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would find intolerable."

The Court then relied on Equal Protection (makes sense right?  everyone should be equally protected by the law?).  To sum up the Court's somewhat difficult to follow discussion on this point, the Court basically said that sometimes we realize the way we've been doing things is wrong.  New insights  and "societal understandings" reveal inequalities in our laws that we didn't realize before.  So you know, time to fix that.

The Court then discussed liberty rights under the Due Process clause.  Now, liberty rights are a wishy-washy concept that we spent weeks trying to figure out in law school, because they're not express in the Constitution.  There's this "penumbra of rights" concept but essentially the gist of this discussion is that there is a certain fundamental right to "liberty,"  and (my take on it is), part of being "at liberty" is that you should be allowed to marry the person you love, period, end of story.

Lastly, the Court said, essentially, we know technically the legislature makes the laws and we know we are legislating from the bench here, but we don't care.  If you are seeking protection of your fundamental rights (such as the right to marry), you shouldn't have to wait for a law to be passed to get some relief.

My favorite lines in the Opinion are where the Court pre-empted some of the more common arguments against same-sex marriage.  The "it's a states rights issue," argument was cut off by: "Courts must exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect."  In opposition to the "marriage is about babies" argument that I've actually heard from people I know, the Court was quick to point out:  "Precedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate."  So there.

The full text of the decision is here, if you want to read it for yourself. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How to Train Your Drama Llama

Of course, following up a weekend of two great rides, the horse universe balanced things out and gave me two very difficult rides. Not bad rides, mind you, because they ended well... but those victories were earned man. All I can say is the scale better reflect all the sweat the next time I step onto it.

Tuesday I rode in the indoor because thunderstorms were passing through and I chalked his behavior up to the fact that indoors in summer are not approved by anyone, especially Tuckers.  He was hanging on my left rein, refusing to bend left tracking left, and bulging hard through his left shoulder tracking right.  After some theatrics, much leaping and throwing his head around... 

... I actually got some beautiful canter work out of him.  He did some leaping but then would settle into a really nice canter, and then panic and leap and protest and then go back to a nice canter.  It was about a billion degrees and 300% humidity on Tuesday so once the leaping decreased in frequency I called it a day.

I know I'm anthropomorphizing here but I swear to you when I got on last night he immediately picked a fight with me.  As soon as I picked up the contact - grabbing the left rein, flailing and rearing.  He literally almost smashed his head into one of the telephone poles our ring lights are on. And just in case you think I'm exaggerating, I have video stills for you:

Move #1: Yank left rein out of my hands; swing haunches right.
Move #2:  Panic and twist head skyward. 
Move #3:  Rear/hop, because 1 and 2 are not working.
I mean what in the actual f%#k am I supposed to do with that.  Well I'll tell you what I did last night. I galloped him around the ring a few laps and scared the crap out of him.  And not in a, "oh, the horse is rearing so you should send it forward" organized, methodical, professional kind of way.  Like in a stark raving mad maniac kind of way.  I was angry.  Not my best moment. 

And then I had a slightly terrified Tucker on my hands which is my least favorite kind of Tucker.  So I did lots, and lots, of walk work to try to get him to settle and slowly process what I was asking for, which was simply "listen to my aids, don't throw your body parts around."  There was a lot of flailing - I actually cut my lip when his NECK slammed into my FACE (still annoyed about that one). 

My dance space.  Your dance space.  GET IT TOGETHER HORSE.
It looked hideous, but we did make progress.  In trying to figure out how to get him to step under with his haunches without grabbing the left rein I actually started the beginnings of a half pass (at the walk). I don't know if it looked all that impressive but after much protesting and flailing and insisting that it was impossible to bend left and move left, he actually did it.  He held a left bend and moved off my right leg.  And then he held a right bend and moved off my left leg.  And then he was even in both reins.  So, that was awesome.

We moved up to trot and I thought about the things we worked on in my last lesson.  I kept reminding myself that a left rein issue is a right haunches issue so don't focus on his mouth.  I opened my right rein and kept my right leg back so he couldn't drop the right rein and curl his haunches in tracking right (which caused much flailing) and when the protests ceased, gradually brought that hand closer to his neck, and had a fabulous working trot.  I got some of the most lovely trot lengthenings he's ever given me.  And then he'd flail.  And then he'd be lovely again.

I thought I'd try holding the left counter-lead because sometimes that fixes this without me really "correcting" anything.  He knew what this trick was about and did some extremely theatrical and explosive attempts at lead changes.  But I outsmarted him!  Our ring is surrounded by about a ten meter grass strip on all sides between the footing and the fence, so I just turned left onto the grass and made him circle left every time he tried to throw out a huge lead change.  He did NOT see that coming.  And he gave up and held his left counter lead.

He held it so well, in fact, that I was able to do circles through the middle of the ring and diagonals back and forth while holding the left lead.  Seriously.  I don't think I've ever done that before.  He got himself so worked up that I just sort of channeled the energy for good not evil.  Then in the middle of one long side I did a simple change to the right lead and we had some positively incredible right lead canter work.  Really stepping under and round through his back.  Like a boss.

All in all it was one of our more difficult rides, but man some of it felt amazing (which is why I think this is a training/attitude issue, not a pain or discomfort issue).  I did contact our chiropractor and hope to have her out in the next couple of weeks, just to help him out.  But I have a feeling he just needs to put on his big boy pants.  Or I'll just have to start wearing a mouth guard. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cowboy Mounted Shooting

The other thing I learned at Paso shows... Cowboy Mounted Shooting.  Yeah, that's a thing.

So first off this is Nola, and all I can say about this lady is that she is BAD ASS.  Nola runs Ro-No Ranch out in PA.  She's a lot of fun.

On my coolest day, I will never be as cool as Big Red,
wearing a gun holster, getting strapped into her custom fringed chaps.
I know it sounds crazy to those of us mere mortals with horses who do not care for explosions and loud noises, but these riders are good friends of mine (they are a mother and son team) and they are very safety conscious about everything. 

Robbie and Cardillo Sin Par, Nola and Calif de Color Sin Par
As you may have guessed, these horses are excellent mounts and their ears are plugged for protection.  The guns are handled safely and handed off after each run and re-loaded with powder, which is what makes the balloons explode.  

Bad Ass, I tell you.
It's kind of amazing in person.  You can see the camera bounce where I jump when shots are fired.  

The videos are only a few seconds long, but rather than embed them all here I just made a playlist on Tucker's youtube channel.  Enjoy!

Also... I am kind of in love with Calif.  He is so smart and so talented.  This stallion is not only sweet as can be....

... but also incredibly versatile.  He rides, he drives, you name it.  He has National Titles in Western Pleasure, Trail, Versatility, Driving, Cowboy Mounted Shooting, Barrels, Pole Bending and more. This guy even performed at the World Equestrian Games and Rolex... which is not something you can say about most horses.  Kind of awesome!

He even packs around wannabe DQ's from time to time (honestly I have never looked dorkier, in jeans and Ethan's helmet, but I was not about to pass up the opportunity, and even though me and the seven year olds were the only ones in helmets all weekend... you know, safety first). 

So pretty.  They need to make him a Breyer model.
So, I loved riding him (sorry Tucker).  Perfect lateral work and canter-halt-canter transitions all day long.  I absolutely love him.  When I first got on he was calling and ignoring me and then he was all business when I started riding.  There is nothing better in this world than a good stallion.

He totally has that selfie disorder though.  Just can't stop when he gets a smartphone in front of him. 

Can you blame him though?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

So, What Happens at a Paso Fino Show?

So, since I've been dating Ethan, I've now been to three Paso shows, which basically makes me an expert.  Hahaha.  Except whenever I watch the classes I pick out the ones I like and then watch them get pinned in reverse order.  I have a lot to learn.  But, I can at least tell you what goes down.  

First off, drinking starts at 10 a.m. (or at least, it does if your only responsibilities for the day are to hold the dog and take photos).  So, you know, I'm in.  There was also a legit salsa band playing at night right outside the stalls, which was kind of surreal and kind of awesome.

Red Berry Cider is clearly a breakfast food.
Stop judging me.
Second, they go all out with their stall decorations. And I do mean all out.  No silly little stall drapes around these parts.

What you can't see is that behind these larger than life banners is an AIR CONDITIONED dressing room that they made by enclosing a stall entirely in plastic (they just strung rope across the top to hold the plastic up for the "ceiling." Genius).  Yeah. That happened. And it was AWESOME. The rest of us have no idea what we're doing, clearly.

Classes run all day, into the evening.  The divisions are divided up based upon the gender, age, and type of paso you're showing, as well as the rider's age and status (pro/amateur).  There are three types of horses, generally:  Fino, Performance, and Pleasure.  There are lots of other classes as well, like youth classes where they complete a pattern, Bella Forma where they show babies in hand, and even costume classes. 
So much better than white breeches.
I'll give you my very uneducated, hunter-princess, dressage-queen-in-training understanding of the three types of show horses.

The Pleasure horses show at the paso corto (equivalent of the trot, but it's a four beat lateral gait), paso largo (same foot falls, but covers more ground, and can get as fast as a canter), and a flat walk,. They are usually asked to do the sounding board at the end of the class individually, but not always. These horses are expected to show in light collection, with a light rein. Their gaits are a little more extended than Performance horses, but they still have to look smooth. They are supposed to look easy and fun to ride, with good manners and a nice disposition (not too far off from other pleasure classes). Here, obviously, is the nicest Amateur Pleasure Gelding pair on the face of the earth.

So handsome.
Took me all weekend to finally line up this shot right.
A Performance horse is supposed to show more "brio," which from what I understand is basically more energy and more power.  They have a little more action in their knees and hocks than the Pleasure horses, and their gaits are a little more collected (less forward motion, but with more energy). They show at the Paso Corto, Paso Largo, and collected walk, and they do the sounding board individually at the end. For this class, manners and disposition are a little less important, as these guys are judged on their energy, excitement, movement and the quality of their gait.

I didn't take a photo of a Performance horse.
So here's Mooch doing what he does best. Being adorable.
The Fino horses are, in laypersons' terms, the fancy ones. They show at the Classic Fino (the forward speed is slow, but their feet move unbelievably rapidly, and it's extremely collected).  These horses are judged on their conformation, their "brio," and the rhythm of their gait, which should be rapid and consistent (it's also a four beat lateral gait). They are asked to show at the classic fino and halt in both directions, and at the end each exhibitor does the sounding board.  These guys make piaffe and passage look like child's play.

And speaking of child's play, this little peanut rides at Ethan's barn.
This is a Fino gelding.  She rides better than we do.  NBD.
There are two judges for each class, and they can pin the class differently from each other.  At the end of each class, the horses are asked to line up, the judge checks each one's bit and tack, and they are asked to rein back individually (I think this is at the judge's discretion, but it's usually done).

If you're interested, I filmed Ethan's last class, so you can see exactly how it goes down.  It's pretty fun to watch, and the crowds get into the sounding boards (which explains why Ethan cheers at the end of my tests. I have no intention of stopping him, by the way. It's good to rile up the DQ's occasionally).

Monday, June 22, 2015

Oh hey there

Did I let a whole week slip by without writing anything?  Whoops.  Let's just say I was giving the excitement that was OTB's engagement its full due and wanted it to be the top post here for a week. Yeah, that's it.

Actually, I had one of those awful summer head colds, so all my rides were totally lackluster and literally nothing to write home about.  We basically just muddled through for a week, with a combination of lunging and short rides.  I did however have two awesome rides this past weekend, so perhaps I was rewarded for giving the pony a week of not too taxing work.

On Saturday, we focused on the things we are working toward in our dressage riding.  We worked on our walk pirouettes, which I think are coming right along.  We worked on our rein back, which is nowhere near consistent or correct yet, but improving.  We worked on walk-halt-walk, trot-halt-trot, and trot-halt-canter, which were not perfect, but overall improved his balance and connection and adjustability, so when I moved on to working on our transitions within the gait at the canter, it went better overall too.

We are still trying to sort out the working-to-collected canter.  More often than not, my aids are misinterpreted by a certain large brown animal as a request for trot.  The good news is, however, he's starting to actually think, and sometimes I get a few steps of honest to goodness collection without being terribly crooked and without breaking.  It was kind of hard to convince him after collecting to then lengthen his stride (I swear I could hear his thoughts: MAKE UP YOUR MIND LADY), but he did it, and was much straighter, and I think we are starting to show an actual transition from lengthened to working canter.

And (this is huge for Tucker), I'm starting to be able to actually use my dressage whip to back up my aids. Meaning, he's responding appropriately to the whip instead of having a panic attack for several seconds and then going to back to being not forward. This may sound absurd (I frequently do), but I'm trying to make the connection "tap with whip" and "go forward" in the Tucker-brain with a little growl as I use it.  It dawned on me that he is very clear about going forward from a growl, but still has an "OMG why'd you hit me??" reaction to the whip. So now I give a little tap in conjunction with growling something like "get" at him, which makes me sound slightly insane to those riding along with me (sorry guys) but actually appears to be working.  On Saturday I was able to use my whip with no sound effects and he actually kept cantering instead of breaking and didn't even panic about it.  You know like a real horse.

On Sunday, I wanted to give him a break from dressage, so we put on our jump tack and I set up a little course.  Just four little fences, a cross rail on one quarter line, two little verticals on the diagonals, and a slightly taller vertical (and I do mean slightly, it was no bigger than 2'6") with a placement rail nine feet away for take off and landing, as a tune-up for my eye.

After we warmed up a little I trotted back and forth over the x, and when he landed with a lovely rhythmical canter I thought I'd just keep going to the diagonal, and from there we just kept jumping around the rest, eight fences in a row, so we jumped everything in both directions.  I rode each fence with a very soft, almost loopy rein, and his canter rhythm never changed, and he never missed (he has the best eye of any horse I've ever ridden).  All I had to do was remember to pull my shoulders back to the fences that were slightly downhill.  We took a walk break and I repeated the pattern, just to be sure it wasn't a fluke.  Perfection.

We even have lead changes now, which were never reliable before we started doing dressage and getting him stronger behind.  They are hunter changes, not dressage changes, but for now I don't care. I landed on the wrong lead and thought, well let's see what he does, asked before the corner with a little feel of his mouth and outside leg, and he just did his change and kept right on going like no big deal.  Happened a few more times, both directions, no fuss.  If I were braver I would totally go do a derby on him again.  (I haven't ruled it out as a possibility for the future, but it still makes me nervous because I'm a wimp.)

Both of these rides left me with a feeling of complete, overwhelming gratitude.  It felt like no matter what I asked of him, Tucker was happy to try to do exactly what I wanted.  Sometimes I can't wrap my head around how lucky I've gotten with this horse.  He is such a good boy, I just love seeing how smart he is and how hard he tries.  (Sorry, I'm gushing again.  But look at that face!)  I do not take a day with him for granted.  Speaking of, if you haven't already, please go show Lauren some love.  My heart is just breaking for her right now.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

How a Horse Girl Gets Engaged

Ha!  Gotcha!  No Ethan and I are not engaged.  Yet.  He has to ask me first.  You can feel free to nudge him about that though.  

But my very dear friend who writes A Horse and a Half and goes by the pen name onthebit IS officially getting hitched!  And since she doesn't blog nearly as often as she should, I'm spilling the beans on her behalf.

Here is the story in fourteen adorable photos.

Sleepy Gennyral did not want nap time to end.

But we had to make him pretty...

I had wanted to do braids, but I couldn't leave work early,
so flowers had to do.

She had no idea what was happening.

Like a true horse girl, she went to greet her horse first.

Then she remembered her knight in shining armor, 
who was waiting there on a horse for the first time in his life.

When he started his speech, she finally realized what was happening.

And then he got down on one knee....

She said yes.

They kissed.

He put a ring on it.

The ring is engraved, "My Blue Ribbon."

And they lived happily ever after.

Oh and I was there too, drink in hand.  Shocker.

We knew he was The One when he emailed us to ask for help, so her horse could be involved in his proposal.  We immediately informed him that, Gen being a gray horse, we would need to factor a bath into the day's schedule.  If he didn't know it already, the thousand emails we sent back and forth in the past weeks to pull all this off have taught him that horse girls are very particular.

I'm so happy for them.  She is an outstanding person, a loyal friend with a generous heart, a kind soul, and a talent for baked goods.  I'm so happy she has finally found someone who totally deserves her.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I love this bar

It's my kind of place

Just walkin' through the front door

Puts a big smile on my face

It ain't too far, come as you are

Hmm, hmm, hmm I love this bar

Lyrics by Toby Keith

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sitting Trot

I'm trying to learn to sit the trot.  It's not really all that pretty.  In fact just brace yourselves now, I'm probably going to talk about it a lot.

I had no intention of sharing these videos, actually, but screw it - this blog is about the sometimes ugly process that is my transition from hunters to dressage.  So these are basically a perfect snapshot of that.  Complete with the kind of baggy t-shirt I wear when I think no one will see me.  You're welcome.

If you don't like videos, blogger made you these gifs. 
There are moments where I briefly sit up for a few steps and actually appear to be riding (I promise, I'm trying the whole time).  Then I start bouncing.

There are moments where I manage to get him to stop curling his face to his chest and actually use himself.  Then he flails and inverts and hops up and down and does his best pissed-off camel imitation.  

He's been doing this in every ride for at least the past week.  I'm not 100% sure what brought it on. My theory is that he was pretty happy when we were asking for lengthening, bigger strides, more forward, because that's relatively easy for him. Now I'm asking him to start collecting a little again and he's not so into it.  Either that or groundhogs.  But we're working through it carefully right now and I'm hopeful it will pass.

I actually had a realization in Pilates class the other day.  I was doing push ups and after the 6th one they got really hard, my muscles burned and I had to force myself to do the next 3.  I realized that's probably the moment where Tucker inverts and then hits the end of the reins and acts like I'm beating him.  His hind end is still getting stronger, so when feels that muscle strain, he doesn't like it, and he has no way of understanding that it's good for him.  Nor does he care.  Yet somehow... it's my job to convince him to keep trying.

More accidental somewhat wonky gif  -
here as proof I'm learning to sit the canter too
With that thought in mind, yesterday I rode through his least favorite movement, haunches-in tracking left. He hates doing this and grabs the left rein, twists his head right (a move he demonstrates above) and tries to forcibly make me stop asking.  And when that doesn't work he starts doing his little mini-rear threats.  

I decided instead of giving him a break with something else and coming back to the haunches-in at another point in the ride (which I think is teaching him to pitch a fit and then I'll leave him be), I would just keep patiently asking for it.  Every time he slammed on the breaks and/or reared, I got him walking forward again on a small circle and then asked for the haunches-in again.  I didn't escalate anything or make him feel punished or "in trouble" (big meltdown trigger for him), just tried to stay as relaxed as possible and concentrated on being soft but very clear with my aids.

It took forty minutes of walking and repeating the same boring pattern over and over again but eventually he just gave in.  It was just a mental block for him.  He was immediately responding with "I CAAAAN'T" instead of trying.  As soon as he realized he was perfectly capable of doing what I asked, we rode a haunches in all the way up and down both long sides of the arena (with much, much praise).
I was just testing her.
The rest of the ride was stellar.  His trot and canter work, while a little more wound-up than usual, was excellent and straight.  I focused on straightness, not letting him lose all that valuable work we did with his haunches, making him bend around my left leg without swinging his hips out.  He was super.  He even held it together and kept working when two turnout buddies were running around bucking right next to the ring.  I wrapped it up pretty quickly at that point - I felt like he was reaching his limit - but what a good boy.

Now fingers crossed we don't start from ground zero next ride.

I promise nothing.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Groundhog Day

I don't think I've explained this to you guys yet but one of Tucker's just absolutely adorable and really, truly, endearing quirks [note sarcasm] is that he is terrified of groundhogs.  To you and me they are fluffy, fat, bucktoothed little garden-destroyers, but to Tucker, they are deadly.

I will destroy everything you love.
Don't ask me why groundhogs are Enemy #1.  It's not just the rustling in the bushes either.  Squirrels, rabbits, foxes, birds, and deer are not a problem.  Just groundhogs.  I don't know if they have a particular smell?  Or maybe the way they move?  Or perhaps Tucker had some kind of bad experience that he doesn't like to talk about?

You've been warned.
So there's apparently a groundhog family in the bushes next to our outdoor ring.  Which means Tucker is basically incapable of rational thought when being ridden in said ring.  I had the same problem in the ring at our last farm, last summer.  I may lose my patience and get him a pet groundhog that lives in his stall until he learns to deal.  Or I might set up target practice, too soon to say.

Last night I started off our ride thinking I'd focus on how my pelvis is tilting at the walk and try to follow his movements so I could replicate it during the canter, based on something I read from Denny Emerson (log in to facebook to view).  Tucker decided that instead I'd focus on staying on him while he RAN SIDEWAYS LIKE A TERRIFIED GIRAFFE.

Prepare to die.
Since we couldn't handle use of the whole ring, and the footing was kind of meh anyway because of all the rain, I limited our ride to a 20-meter circle.  We did LOTS of walk work, which was actually pretty productive.  Free/lengthened walk, medium walk, lateral work, walk-halt-walk.  Then I asked for a rein back and I blew his little horsie brain.  I assume it was groundhog-related.

I don't know why the rein back triggered full on meltdown mode, but if I had to guess, I'd say he decided I was asking for something he had filed in the "too hard" category so spooking at the bushes for the remainder of the ride was a vastly superior alternative.  (I'm going to do some reading up on the correct aids for a rein back and I'll share that with you guys as well.)  The rein back really did improve the quality of his walk each time, but I spent the rest of the ride periodically growling at him when he decided to throw his head in the air and suck back in either feigned or real terror at the bushes.

It's us against them.
I ended dripping in sweat but we actually had some really good quality work in between his moments of sheer stupidity.  There were times when he was really connected and straight, even though he obviously wasn't happy about it.  There were also moments where he ran sideways, or wrenched the reins out of my hands, or needed a pony-kid-esque boot in the sides to go forward.  

But I guess we take what we can get.  On the plus side, I was able to sit the trot for the entire ride, and I am starting to get a feel for the round forward trot that is comfortable to sit, vs. the trot that's too disconnected to sit comfortably.  (Note to self: do not slow the horse down to sit the trot.)  His canter work was actually pretty good, but I think by that point I had just broken his spirit.

This Mayor probably agrees with Tucker.
Some nights you have to just quit on a "mildly improved" note instead of a "good" note, which we did.  Pretty sure Tucker went back to his pasture mates saying "I don't know WHAT that b&%ch's problem was tonight."  We'll just have to try again tomorrow.


p.s. - I owe you posts about the gaited show.  I'm having some media difficulties but I promise I'll get them up at some point.  Next week there's not much going on anyway, so tabling that series might work out just fine.