Monday, March 28, 2016

An Afternoon at Evergreen

I have been trying to write this post for a week, and it hasn't been coming out right.  A week ago, Ethan and I had kind of an amazing day, you could even say a once-in-a-lifetime kind of day, and I haven't figured out quite how to describe it to you.  I have deleted a couple of attempts that sounded like name-dropping or bragging, and the ramblings of a silly, starry-eyed fangirl.  So, now I've decided to just write this from the heart, and trust that all of you, my cherished blog followers, will know that I'm not being boastful or ridiculous.  

One of the most wonderful things about being Ethan's girlfriend is that, where I can be a little socially awkward and lacking in self-confidence, he is incredibly self-assured and makes friends really easily. I have to force myself to introduce myself to someone I want to meet, whereas Ethan is naturally outgoing and easy to talk to, and people seem to remember him (obviously, I couldn't forget him when I met him).  Ethan seems to not have the running commentary in his head that I do, constantly trying to decide if I'm saying or doing the right thing. Which means, in general, he takes more chances than I do.  And sometimes I'm lucky enough to tag along.

Evergreen Farm
So, last year at the Horse World Expo, Ethan made friends with Peg and Terry Helder, the owners of Evergreen Farm.  They breed paint horses, and have the stallion Paint Me Hobby, who is somewhat of a celebrity in the paint horse world and has sired a whole slew of world champion barrel racers and performance horses.  Some of Paint Me Hobby's progeny have gained some fame in the ring with Guy McLean, including Lightning and Champion.  Pennsylvania Equestrian did a very cute story on how the Helders and the McLeans met, which, in case you don't click that link, involves a blizzard and an Australian couple unfamiliar with Pennsylvania in February and the need for four wheel drive.

Back to my story.  My wonderful boyfriend made friends with the Helders, who for all their success in the horse industry are just kind-hearted, down to earth horse people like you and me.  Ethan told Terry that he'd love to see their farm sometime, and Terry told him, in that good-natured cowboy way of his, to "come on by" anytime.  Now, if that were said to me, I would have assumed he was just being polite and I would have thought I'd be imposing to take him up on it.

Denny giving me the side-eye at the Expo.
This horse sees right through me.
Thankfully, Ethan is nothing like that.  He had hoped we'd run into the Helders again at the Expo this year, but since we didn't have a horse with us, we weren't back in the barns at all.  We did see Terry win the trail champion class, but didn't actually get to chat with him.  But, when Guy and Emily mentioned that they'd be at Evergreen for a bit after the Expo, Ethan grabbed one of the Evergreen Farm cards from Guy's booth, and sent Peg Helder an email.  Ethan told them how much we have enjoyed watching Guy work their young horses, and would love to come out and see the farm and maybe see Guy work a little bit.  Ethan had asked Guy, who said it was okay with him, as long as it was okay with Peg and Terry.

We didn't hear back for about a week, and I kind of figured it wasn't going to happen.  But then one evening I was in bed reading my book, and Ethan came in and said, "I just got an email."  The grin on his face told me exactly who it was from.  So, last Saturday morning, we dropped Taz off at Ethan's parents for the day and headed out to Pennsylvania.  I don't think I even need to describe to you how excited we were that morning, but if you think back to your best Christmas ever, when you knew you were getting something that was at the very tippy-top of your list, that would just about cover it.

When we got to the farm, we headed down to the indoor ring, since someone told us "Guy's down in the indoor."  You know, like it's just an every day thing for us to be showing up somewhere for a private visit with Guy McLean.  No big deal.  

"You really don't get out much, do you?"
When we came in, Denny was tied just outside the ring, and gave me the old side-eye again. I tried to contain my excitement at realizing I was standing in a barn just feet away from one of Guy's horses. If ever a horse has rolled his eyes at someone, I am fairly certain that Denny rolled his eyes at me, grinning like a fool at him. When we came around the corner, Guy saw us and gave us that thousand watt smile of his and I honestly could not believe that he was greeting us like old friends. The whole thing felt so surreal.  Here was our hero, up on his horse, and here we were, just standing around like we belonged there.

Guy was on Ash when we got there and Lightning was tied in the corner of the ring. I must confess, I didn't take notes or snap a bunch of photos while I watched him work.  I usually try really hard to document his work for you guys, but this one was for me.  I will tell you, however, that five minutes after our arrival, I saw Guy do something I have never seen before - a line of three tempis followed immediately by laying the horse down while mounted.  His work ended with his famous move, side-passing Ash and Denny overtop of Lightning (something I've never seen him do with Lightning before).  To say that Guy is uniquely talented is such a bland understatement.  It's sometimes hard to believe your eyes.

All in a day's work
I will also tell you that what you see Guy do in the ring during his demos is exactly what he does at home. He is not hiding a thing from his audience. He worked with Ash on his own, then brought Lightning and Denny into the ring to work at liberty. I saw him work on many of the same things he worked on at the Expo: getting Lightning and Denny to work as a team with Ash, sharpening Ash's skills as a ridden horse when Lightning and Denny ran off, working with the horses' instincts, staying calm, staying focused, being patient and understanding. I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I had a private audience with one of the world's greatest horsemen that day. He let us ask questions, he explained some of what was going on, and I tried to soak up each moment. One of those times when you can feel memories being made as they are happening.

Denny, Lightning, and Ash
Guy showed us this absolutely beautiful colt, who he purchased from the Helders and plans to have with him at the Expo next year, the last of the line of horses the Helders intend to breed.  This horse is stunning, the kind of baby that is full of so much talent that he could definitely get himself into trouble in the wrong hands.  You should see him trot, he absolutely floats on air.  I watched Guy do a short, productive ground work session with him and was amazed at how both Guy and this young horse moved so fluidly and gracefully around the ring.  I always feel so uncoordinated when I work in hand with Tucker, and yet there is Guy with this golden bundle of energy on the end of his lead, working with him as calmly as if he was just walking down the sidewalk, and the colt just as easily stepping sideways and reaching under himself, yielding to pressure, his little ears flicking back and forth showing the wheels turning within.  They already look like a strong team.

Happy after his work
Terry introduced me to Paint Me Hobby, who has the air of a satisfied gentleman, content in the knowledge that he will be leaving behind an impressive legacy.  He came to the fence to greet his public, and I asked if I could give him a mint (because when you own a Tucker, you never leave home without mints in your pockets).  Terry said, "if he'll eat it," with a smirk that unquestionably said that cowboys do not give treats, and their horses most certainly do not eat mints.  But Hobby took my offering, and sucked on it for a while, trying to figure out if he liked it.  He eventually got around to chomping on it, and had that look on his face of being surprised to discover something new and enjoyable after all these years.

That could have been the end of our visit and it would have been an amazing day.  But there was more in store.  When Guy was done working the horses, he blanketed them and led the three of them to turnout.  As we got to the driveway, Emily (Guy's wife) pulled up in their big truck with lunch. Ethan and I were then treated to sharing a meal with Guy, Emily, and Terry Helder.  (Peg was off the farm that day.)  I don't need to tell you, when I went to wash my hands I had to steel myself to not allow my giddy excitement to take over.  

But once we settled in, turns out we were just five horse people, sharing a meal, talking horses, telling funny stories.  I learned that Emily has a dressage background, and used to perform as a trick rider.  I learned that Guy also worked with Percherons back home, training them for police work.  I also learned that if you can make Guy McLean truly and genuinely laugh, it is an uproarious, joyful noise that comes with loudly slapping his palm on the table, and it will feel like the greatest thing you've ever done in your whole life.  

We spent a lovely couple of hours around the Helders' kitchen, and then took a walk up the hill to say goodbye to Guy's amazing team, who were contentedly munching grass in a happy herd.  Ethan and I shared a sigh, arm-in-arm, watching them graze.  

Superstars, just being horses.
We have been casually reminding each other for the past week that we went to Evergreen and had lunch with the McLeans.  "Where did we go for lunch last Saturday, I can't remember?"  "Honey do you remember the name of that nice Australian couple we had pizza with last weekend?"  "Hey, remember that time the Helders invited us to Evergreen?"  

The Helders and the McLeans both had nothing to gain from letting us come and visit, but it meant so much to us.  I suppose they didn't exactly lose anything, either, since they were just going about their day, but I think you know what I mean. There's a saying about how you can judge the character of a man by how he treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him.  This felt a lot like that.  

I'm still not sure if I explained it well enough, and I don't know if it's really sunk in for either of us. It was a very special day, and I'm still so very grateful to have spent the time with such incredible horses and amazing horsemen.

Friday, March 11, 2016

March Lesson with Amy: Opening and Collecting

Since my last lesson (which I didn't blog about because I'm a terrible blogger and I took a winter break), my homework was to get the whole horse bending, and work on collecting the canter more in preparation for the canter-walk transition.

We've definitely made progress in both areas.  I went through our current warm-up.  Leg yields, shoulder-in, haunches in at the walk, and then at the trot, concentrating on getting the whole horse to bend.  Other than a minor adjustment of getting his shoulders pointed a little more facing forward instead of toward the wall in the haunches-in, Amy was happy with this work and the progress we've made, especially with the left bend.  She even thought he was getting a little overbent - which I'm fine with.  Since our left bend was basically non-existent before, now that I have it I can just dial it back a little bit.

Amy then had me do a fun exercise, which Tucker seemed to really enjoy.  She said she was happy with how he was bending but now we needed to open him up.  We came across the diagonal and lengthened, working first on keeping his hind legs together through the turn (not stepping out with the outside hind).  When they keep their hind legs closer together, you can get a better lengthening. So outside leg and hands close together through the turn off the rail. 

Then right around X, we'd convert the diagonal line to a leg yield.  So if you're on a diagonal going right to left, the shoulders have to swing left so he's facing the short side instead of the corner, and then he has to step sideways back toward the rail.  Once we got the hang of it, doing this out of a lengthening created these big, swingy, cross-over steps.  Pretty fun to watch in the mirror.  And of course my little boy genius figured the exercise out just as quickly as I did and by the last time we did it, he started shifting his body before I even asked him to.  Smart cookie.

We moved on to the canter and Amy got to see some of the issues I've been having (I had a very tough ride the night before my lesson).  To the left he is now picking up this super collected canter and I have to work to ride him out of it, so Amy helped me get out of this by keeping my hands forward and still, and using my seat to control the size of his canter stride.  She warned me to be careful about not overbending him in the transition which might be creating that super collected canter that I don't mean to be asking for.

When we went right, she got to see where things unraveled the night before.  On Wednesday night I was on him for an hour and a half, because after I cantered right he absolutely lost it.  Amy saw the problem right away - he was twisting (and I was letting him) in a way that was taking him out of the contact on the inside rein completely, and then I'd use too much left rein, cause it felt like he was hanging on it, and then when I'd go to pick up the right rein he felt boxed in and trapped. 

Amy saw the moment when he hit panic mode - his head went straight in the air and she said "okay he's got that huge eyeball, let's come back to the trot and regroup."  So we went back to a stretchy trot and got him to take a deep breath.  Once he relaxed, we started working on getting him to take the right rein again.  Leg yields from the rail to the quarter line (left to right), my right hand steady to "catch" him, and not pulling back on the left or counter-flexing.  Amy said sometimes you have to just hit the reset button.  We went back to the right lead canter, and Amy told me when he gets tense to flatten the canter out before I try to collect it again.  Makes sense.

Taz is a fan of Amy's footing
(She and Ethan watch all my lessons, such dedicated cheerleaders!)
On a walk break we discussed that now I'm starting to actually get somewhere in our collection work, which is good, but also means it's possible for me to get myself into trouble.  He's sensitive, and I need to make sure that he's not just doing the work, but also staying relaxed.  I think I've created some issues that weren't there before because he's been fresh, and I've been working too much on collecting him without enough opening him up (because no one wants to open a horse up when you feel like he's going to explode).

So when we went back to work, we did some of the numbers exercise in the trot, and did some trot-walk transitions.  Here there was an obvious weakness - he wants to root and/or tighten up in his neck in that last step trot to walk.  So I need to be really, really patient through these and not snatch him up when he roots, and just go right back to trot if he inverts/tightens.  It was a little tedious, but we did get there.

Then we applied that numbers exercise to the canter work.  "6" being a forward canter, "1" being almost cantering in place, etc.  If he got tense we'd send him forward again until he softened, and only collected when he could do it without getting tight.  It was exactly what was missing from our collection work.  Once we got him sitting but in a relaxed way, the transition from canter-walk and walk-canter were much better.  I have to focus on collecting from my seat more, without changing anything in my hand.

From there I was able to show Amy our best collected canter at the moment, and I explained I knew it was overbent and was having trouble fixing that.  Once Amy pointed out that I was actually putting him there with my left hand/left side, so my right leg was fighting against my own left aids (it felt like I was kicking against a brick wall on the right side), I was able to get it straighter and he came rounder and softer.  Basically, I had to get out of my own way.

We did three pretty awesome canter-walk transitions from here, going left.  Amy said for the short amount of time we've been working on these (a little less than a month since our last lesson), she was very impressed with where they were at.  I was able to watch one in the mirror because of the point in the circle we were on, and I was shocked to see a real dressage horse looking back at us.  I hardly recognized us.  Felt pretty damn good.

Going right, which is his weaker direction, we didn't get the canter-walk transition perfected but we did get some really good moments where he was able to sit down without getting tense.  And - huge personal victory for me - he thought about leaping and I sat down harder and rode through it, but didn't tense up myself, and he just went back to work.  First time I've successfully prevented it from happening.  Huge win.

For the next few weeks, Amy wants me to work on collecting the canter to the right just to the point where I'd be almost ready to walk, and then move him back out again.  Play the numbers game.  So (a) he gains the strength he needs to do the transition properly, and (b) he learns that he's not always going to be asked to walk, which seems to be worrying him.  

Overall, really productive lesson. Amy pinpointed the moment he was about to unravel, and helped me regroup and get him working in a positive way again.  Homework is to work on both opening up and collecting the canter, and in the collected canter be able to add leg without increasing speed or stride length, so we "increase the RPM's" as Amy puts it.

Good boys get candy canes!
Guy said something in his last ride on Sunday - about taking a mental image, like a photograph in his mind's eye, of the best parts of his rides, and focusing on those images in his head, not any of the things that didn't go well.  I've got a few snapshots in my head of Tucker in the mirror that I'm going to focus on going forward.  So proud of this horse right now.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Guy McLean at the PA Horse World Expo: Staying in the Moment

Since today is his birthday, I figured this would be the perfect day to post this.  (Happy birthday Guy!)

As my readers know, I am a huge fan of Guy McLean.  In fact at this point I jokingly refer to myself as a Guy McLean Superfan, but I'm more like a devotee, a true believer, a follower.  Every time I see him work with his horses I feel renewed in my beliefs about what horses can do for us, and in my passion for this sport, and the strength of the relationship we can build with these animals.

The whole 2016 team. Aussie, Denny, Mate, Lightning, Guy & Ash
This year Ethan and I didn't bring his horse to the PA Horse World Expo, so we got to play tourist for a couple of days.  I'll do a blog post next about the Expo generally, but first we have to talk about Guy.  On Saturday, while we were perusing the vendors, Ethan and I ran into Guy and stopped to chat for a bit.  Well, Ethan did most of the chatting.  I mostly smiled and nodded along because I couldn't make conversation over the squeaky voice in my head going "Guy McLean knows who we are! Guy McLean knows my name! Guy McLean said he likes my writing! Wait until I get home and tell Tucker..."  

Major. Fangirl. Moment.

But let's move on to something of a little more substance.  This year Guy's performances left me with a different take home message than previous years, and I honestly don't know whether that's because it was what he intended for us, or whether it's what I needed to hear.  Things didn't go "perfectly" in some of his performances and demos, but that didn't stop Guy from being inspiring.  This year, Guy taught me not just about getting the best out of a horse, but also about how to respond when you don't get the best from your horse.  

As you know from last week's post, things didn't go very well in my last ride.  But after watching Guy work for two days, I know it wasn't karma.  Tucker didn't do what I wanted him to do when I asked him for a walk-canter transition.  He locked up, and instead of staying in the moment and thinking "how can I get his feet moving again," or "how can I get him working with me again," I kicked him.  And the thoughts in my head were "He needs to do this now, because what if this happened during a test?  We need to master this transition!"

After listening to Guy, it's clear to me that I wasn't staying in the moment, my mind was off in some hypothetical future situation where things were going wrong.  That's just not how horses work.

On Saturday, Guy brought his team into the arena for a demo.  He wanted to work with Denny and Lightning on some liberty work because during the performance the night before, Denny had trouble with the lay down, and Lightning in general is green and needs experience at liberty.  (Lightning is my favorite. He's beautiful, he knows it, and it's his striking presence that first drew me in and made me grab a seat at Harrisburg two years ago, where I learned how Guy works.  Lightning changed everything.)
L to R: Aussie, Lightning, Mate, Denny, Ash & Guy
Well, Denny and Lightning gave me a lot to write about.  One of the things I love to see Guy do with his liberty horses is gently touch them on the forehead, which is his signal to them to stay put, and then ride away.  It amazes me that they just stand where he left them, like wind-up toys who are waiting to be played with again.  Except Denny and Lightning didn't stay put this time.  Denny and Lightning ran off each and every time.

Lightning running off, Ash giving chase.
 (Denny, Aussie, Mate in the background)
Guy explained to us that the horses were acting based on what his instincts were telling him.  Horses are prey animals, and their responses are rooted in the prey-predator roles.  As Guy rode Ash back and forth chasing Denny like a cutting horse cornering a cow, he explained, "Denny's doing his best to upset me so I'll go away. But I need to not think about why he's doing it, just stay in the moment and try to make it better."  Ah, this.  Don't think about why your horse is doing this (I am so guilty on this one).  Stay in the moment.

Guy explained that he never lets himself get angry or upset. He kept a smile on his face, and cracked some jokes while he worked.  "Denny has his own Facebook page, he thinks he's smarter than I am." He also found something positive about it - while Denny wasn't acting like a great liberty horse in that moment, Ash was getting great experience as a ridden horse.  A horse who had trouble with his changes before Guy got him was now naturally swapping his leads in order to do his job, which in that moment was, "Catch Denny!"  (Guy explained that Denny was no longer a horse, but now an errant cow.)

Denny, laying down, rolling, rubbing his face in the dirt
(only one of these moves was on command)
Guy also gave us a little history about Denny, explaining that Denny wasn't always an easy horse to work with.  He explained that Denny only acts as educated as the most inexperienced horse in the ring.  At this point, that was Lightning (the horse I watched Guy start at the PA Expo in 2014, who has grown into an unbelievable athlete and could easily be an upper level dressage horse). As for Denny, he explained that "This is a horse it would never work for me to get angry at, I just need to keep working with him."  Does that sound familiar?

Denny, remembering he knows how to lay down,
and be side passed over.
As Denny and Lightning both played up, Guy muttered to the crowd, "Oh sure, I say nice things, I do nice things, and I get a little clap.  He carries on like a fool and you just eat it up.  You know, I used to not like when people laughed but now I understand you're just getting caught up in the moment."

And believe me, we were caught up in the moment. There are these moments in each of Guy's performances and demo's, where the horse he is working with steps sideways toward Guy's outstretched hand to line up next to the horse he's on. I've seen Guy perform about seven times now, sometimes multiple performances, so I figure I've seen this happen a few dozen times. It never ceases to mesmerize me. It feels like magic.

But it's not magic, really, and I don't think Guy would want me to say it's magic.  It's the product of patient, deliberate, focused but relaxed training.  It's Guy's ability to "stay in the moment," to not get upset, and to never let a horse feel that he's angry or frustrated with them.  And it's his innate ability to understand horses' instincts, how they think, how they'll react, how to get through to them, how to make them feel safe and get them trust him.  I think about half of what he does - the "staying in the moment" part, is something we can learn to do, with practice.  But the rest of it, well, that's what makes Guy so special.

Thanking the crowd.
On Sunday, I saw him work with a young mare who I believe he got on for the first time on Saturday morning.  He had told the audience on Thursday that by the end of the weekend, he was going to ride her and work his other horses at liberty off of her.  When the demo started, the little chestnut mare was in a very self-protective mode.

She started off really unsure about having horses she didn't know that close to her side.  She kicked out a couple of times, and not surprisingly, Mate and Aussie moved off.  Because, as Guy explained, that's what she "told" them to do.  I'm sitting there, wondering if this was the plan Guy had in mind?  It seemed, to my untrained eye, that things weren't going well.

Then something really interesting happened.  The little mare went from giving off this body language that was practically screaming that she was uncomfortable and uncertain about the whole situation, to working right with Guy as a team while he worked to get his two liberty horses back to resting.  You could see on her face that she went from "I don't like you on my back and I don't think I want to listen to you," to "Yeah let's go get those two horses!"  She started offering forward and soft transitions, even though she's not nearly broke enough to be expected to do so.

Here is a short video clip.  If I can, I'm going to edit this video and try to give you some subtitles so it's easier to catch what Guy's saying, but for now I just want you to see how this little (completely unbroke) mare went to work:

So my take away on Sunday was that sometimes when things seem like they're not going right, the end result can actually be better.  I have a bad habit of getting stuck in the mindset of "things aren't working," and start focusing on damage control, instead of thinking about what kind of (maybe unplanned, maybe better) results I could be getting. Again, staying in the moment, dropping expectations, letting go of worry and doubt, these are all things that Guy models for us so well.

One more thing I want to tell you about, the horse Guy was on for the first demo I watched, Ash,  is starting to look like the next Spinabbey, and I'm excited to see what he can do.  Guy showed us his abilities to canter sideways and canter backwards, as well as leap in the air (like he's jumping an imaginary jump).  He's learning to do his changes better, and just as Guy said he was "sure there's a tempi in there," sure enough, Ash did three one-tempi's in a row.  Just like a dressage rider, Guy explained that with this horse, he had to teach him to start lifting his shoulders. Don't let the cowboy hat and spurs fool you.  I am pretty sure we could stick Guy in a shadbelly tomorrow and send him up centerline.  We'll just have to take away his bridle....

Guy and Aussie
(from Guy's facebook page)
Guy is a man who exudes positive energy, I've never been around anyone else like him.  He is grateful, and genuine, and unendingly patient with fans like me who won't can't seem to drag themselves away from his booth.  To have the opportunity once a year at the Expo to talk to him about horses, and what he does, and to tell him a little bit about who we are, well it's something I'm just so grateful for.  (I'm going to sound a little nuts here, but...) When I talk to him, it feels like there are tiny broken pieces in me that are being mended.  He said something about me and Ethan - that we are already "married" - and I felt this little leftover shadow of a fracture in my heart just disappear. Guy and his wife Emily are such special people.

I know I've told you this before, but for my new readers - if you can get to an Expo or a Show where he will be - I promise you will not be disappointed.  Make the trip, watch him work, chat with him and Emily and tell them you read about him on my blog. You'll see for yourselves what I'm talking about. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Instant Karma's Gonna Get You

I had several great rides in a row. Which, as you know, can only mean one thing. I was overdue for a tough one. I don't know whether it's a law of averages, or just equestrian karma, or whether we get overly confident when things have been going well....

Started out okay, actually.  We did lots of stretchy walk work, on contact but reaching down.  I've been working on getting him to stretch down and walk forward while doing a leg yield, since he tends to carry tension in his neck through this movement, and he seems to be getting the concept.

When we were ready to trot he was a little stiffer on the left side than he has been, but we worked through it.  We went back and forth between canter and trot for a bit and got him to loosen up his back in both directions.  He really, really wanted to leap/flail going to the right and I managed to prevent it by counter-flexing and riding him really deep for a few strides.  (I don't love having to ride that way because it feels hands-y, but any solution is better than leaping and flailing at this point.)

Then we worked on collecting the canter to the left, and he was doing really well.  And I thought to myself, what's the harm in doing just one canter-walk transition?  I know we just worked on these on Sunday but one couldn't hurt.  So we did.  And he nailed it.  And I was quite pleased with myself.

I figured since that went so well I should do a walk-canter transition to the right.  You know, our first real simple change through the walk.  Never, ever gloat on horseback.

He did not canter, he threw his head in the air and trotted away like this.

Not what I wanted.  Instead of realizing that his little brain was getting fried, and moving on to something else for a moment, I came back to the walk and tried again.  

When I asked him to canter again, he locked his knees and wouldn't walk forward.  At all.

So, naturally, being the genius that I am, I kicked him.  Hard.

Thanks for the image, Amanda.
As soon as I did it, I knew it was a mistake.

He went straight up.  Like this, but a lot more terrifying and a lot less romantic.

I had to wrap my arms around his neck.  And then try to breathe while he proceeded to bounce up and down in panic mode.  I think I momentarily forgot that I was on a very sensitive horse who gets super worried about anything he thinks is "punishment."  We spent the rest of the ride trying to talk Tucker off the ledge.

We had to go back to "Things Tucker Excels At" in order to build his confidence back up.  

And anytime he did something even remotely right, I had to praise the crap out of him so he wouldn't freak out wondering if maybe it wasn't right after all and maybe the next thing I'd ask him to do would be really hard and maybe I was still mad about the rearing thing and maybe I was going to sell him or worse he'd end up at an auction and people would probably think he was a mule and make him work on a farm and pull a plow and he's really not built for that kind of work and...

I texted Amy and set up a lesson for next week.  I think we could use a little help on these transitions. Or, you know, maybe I should just refrain from kicking him like he's a 20-year-old short stirrup pony. WHOOPS.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Unfair Reporting on This Blog

Hi.  It's Me.  (Tucker.)

I have a serious problem with the last blog post and the picture my "mother" put up on facebook yesterday.  

And, yes.  Of course I read the blog.  Of course I'm on facebook.  I consider staying informed to be a basic necessity of life as an internet celebrity.

Back to my issue.  First, she ooooooh's and aaaaaaaah's over this Valegro horse.  I've never met the guy, maybe he's nice, I don't know.  He seems kind of high-maintenance to me, he always matches:

Photo from The Horse Magazine
Anyway....  Yesterday my mom couldn't stop talking about this "amazing photo series" of this Valegro guy who she's apparently obsessed with... blah blah blah.

Then she posts this embarrassing photo of me on our facebook page.

This is what's unfair.  She totally made fun of me for doing the SAME THING as this Valegro horse. I mean, do you see a difference?  Cause I don't.

Photo from The Horse Magazine
Well, apart from the fact that my rider appears to be hanging on for dear life, whereas Valegro's rider seems to be appreciating his performance.

So what makes him so great and me so laughable?  It's unfair, I say.  Highly unfair.  Next time I see something dangerous we'll see how quickly I escort her to safety, that's all I have to say.