I remember quite clearly the training woes I had back when I started this blog. I was working with a western trainer just before my first post, but I ended up having getting rid of him because of something I saw him do to Lilly that I completely disapproved of. Shortly after, I switched to a new dressage trainer because I needed help! I was hoping to get western lessons, but I figured dressage would be good too. Even with the help of these professionals, it was a nightmare trying to ride my horse.
I posted things like this: I feel like every time I ride her, all I'm doing is working on the walk. I'm of the mindset that if we can't do it at the walk, how the hell are we going to do it at the trot or canter. And what is "it", you ask? ANYTHING! I can't work on shortening her stride, I can't work on transitions, I can't work on controlling her speed with my seat... none of it because I'm too busy asking for a walk. It frustrates me to no end.
And this: She was doing a lot of the same stuff she was last time I rode her... cantering on her own agenda, hopping, protesting with tiny bucks... but my trainer was there this time to tell me what I needed to be doing. Lilly knew we were going to canter, and it was as if she wanted to get it over with, so she would rush right into it on her own. At first we just tried to settle her back down and get her trotting again. Lilly would decide that she wanted to canter NOW, though, and start hopping around like a loon. My trainer told me to put Lilly's nose on my toe and make her trot around in a little circle until she decided to listen. As she got soft, I was supposed to make the circle bigger and when we were ready, ask for the canter. As the circle got bigger, Lilly would try to canter again. This went on for quite some time and I lost count of how many circles I did. I was dizzy...
Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday.
Shortly thereafter, I went to Alex's clinic, got thrown off, and learned a lot. I put into practice what Alex showed me, but Lilly and I still had a lot of work to do. We worked all summer and had a pretty good show season, but 2009 was even better. We were still having a lot of issues, though, and looking back on it now, I can see that we were individuals competing together, but we weren't a team.
In early 2009 I stopped taking lessons because I didn't feel I was getting much out of them and then in late 2009 we saw the start of all our medical issues. That carried us pretty much through mid-2010 and on and off from there into 2011. I tried getting back into the show ring in 2011, but it was awful, frustrating, and I was at a loss. That's when I decided I needed to contact Alex again and beg for help.
With her guidance, the progress with Lilly's training has been nothing short of amazing, coupled with how happy Lilly is to be without shoes, and we are on top of the world! Looking back at all of our struggles makes me even more proud of the progress we've made since then. Despite the medical hurdles and roadblocks we've encountered, I'm thrilled to death to let everyone know that my horse will walk, jog/trot, and lope/canter, all on a loose rein.
OK, so that's not all she can do, but you have to appreciate the little things, you know. Four years ago, today felt like it would never come and yet, here we are, and we're making the journey together, as a team.
Today I had another fantastic ride on my mare. The good rides have been so frequent that I'm certain this is our new norm and the only place to go from here is up. I pray every day for her continued health and look forward to this year and the many more that are to come.