Philosophical Differences

For Lesson #84, Karin had us ride bareback. She put me on Maree and put my new lesson partner, Gerry, on Habakuk.

Maree is an absolute sweetheart, great with kids and as easygoing as a horse can get, but I think I’m too tall for her. Karin insists that I’m not.

I did a quick calculation, comparing Karin’s Equestrian Knowledge Data Base to mine and concluded that she had the edge there, so I agreed to ride Maree despite our philosophical differences and my misgivings.

I liked the idea of bareback. I have an awful time keeping my feet in the stirrups at anything faster than a slow walk.  I looked forward to not having that distraction. And Karin said I could ride with in my snow boots – a huge plus.

Bareback also helps the horse and rider share body heat. This was important because it was yet another cold, cold day. The better part of North America was still in the grip of the cruel Polar Vortex, which I now suspect is actually a conscious entity bent on our destruction. In any case, it was warmer that day in Moscow than it was in Knoxville, Tennessee. Some say we’re having a Russian Winter. Although, I don’t think the Russians would say that.

The bareback pad. Don't forget to attend to the girth.

The bareback pad. Don’t forget to attend to the girth.

For me, it was an easy tack day. Karin applied the bareback pad and Maree is the easiest horse in the barn to bridle. She practically does it herself. I just kind of dangle the headset in front of her face and the next thing I know it’s on her. I like that.

Her Sweetness, our Saint Maree

Her Sweetness, our Saint Maree

We rode in the arena, of course.  As I led Maree to the mounting block, Karin asked if I retightened the girth. I wanted to explain to Karin that you don’t need to do that with a bareback pad, but then I’m remembered the Equestrian Knowledge Data Base thing and settled for “No, I forgot,” as she tightened the girth again for me.

As it turned out, I was glad that Karin did that.  For some reason, Maree suddenly shied – rather severely – as we passed the radio sitting on the wall ledge. I have no idea why she did this. Maybe somebody had it on earlier while they were replaying Erin Andrews interview of Richard Sherman after the NFC Championship Game. We’re all still recovering from that. Including Richard Sherman.

The Voice of the Polar Vortex

The Voice of the Polar Vortex

I think if they ever make an action adventure movie about the Polar Vortex, they should hire Richard Sherman to do the voice.

Anyway, I almost fell off. Of all the horses I would expect to bless me with my First Fall, I would have Maree at the bottom of the list. But a horse is a horse and we’re just people and when it comes right down to it, they’re all capable of tossing anyone they please.

To be fair, Maree wasn’t really trying to get rid of me. She startled for just an instant. But it was enough of a bump to put me on her sideways. My right foot, still in its snow boot, courageously clung to the horse’s right side. A literal toehold.

I managed to hang on and not fall, but neither was I able to get back on and right the ship. Like Team Wallace at the Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials, I struggled in Rider’s Purgatory for a moment or two, while Saint Maree patiently waited for me to accept the inevitable. Stickablity is overrated, I say.  I chose to get off rather than fall.

You can’t fire me, I quit.

Karin wasn’t there for the festivities. She had gone off to get Mackie while we warmed up. But Gerry was there to witness it – in silent amusement – no doubt, grateful it wasn’t him.

I related the incident to Karin when she came in with Mackie. She said it was too bad I didn’t fall. Oh, the concern was touching.

“You can’t be a real equestrian until you’ve fallen off.”

I think Karin and I have some philosophical differences on this subject as well. Although in this case, the fall would have been measured in inches and I probably passed up a good opportunity.

We worked for a bit and then let the horses loose to roll around in the dirt. Maree demonstrated a proper landing.  For my benefit, I believe.

This is how you do it, Bob.

This is how you do it, Bob.

And Karin and Mackie did a reenactment of Muhammad Ali’s TKO of Sonny Liston in 1963.

Karin wins in the second round.

Karin wins in the second round.

It was a good lesson for all of us.

A New Level

Lesson #82 was about tack.

I think I may have a handle on the bit & bridle application now. It’s a simple matter of timing my jump to coincide with that inevitable moment when the horse raises his head to avoid the little mass of leather and metal coming straight at him. I find the extra elevation necessary because I often miss that tiny window of opportunity that exists between the instant that the horse realizes what I’m doing and the instant he realizes that I don’t know what I’m doing. He steps back and jerks his head up toward the ceiling as if he’s looking for someone to save him from this dreadful ineptness.

It’s not pretty, but with a combination of physics, luck, and rudimentary knowledge of equine oral anatomy, not to mention persistence, I manage to get the bit in his mouth and the bridle over his ears.

So on Lesson #82 Karin focused on stirrup adjustment instruction. Specifically, doing this while mounted.  At first, I thought, you know Karin, I have trouble with this stuff with both feet on the ground. I didn’t feel I was ready for this new level of difficulty.

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But Karin has discovered new reservoirs of patience within herself that I’m sure she never knew existed. I did that. Karin has explained these procedures countless times and has gone through a process over the last two years with me. At first, she would say things like “But I just showed you this last week!”  And then, “You’re messing with me, right?” And then, “Just figure it our yourself. I’ll see you outside.”  And then, “Kathy, don’t help him!” And then, “Kathy, would you please help him!”

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Now she explains things to me she as though I’m an alien from a horseless galaxy who she just met five minutes ago. It’s remarkable. She’s so matter of fact, completely task orientated and immersed in the Now, oblivious to the fact that I should have gotten this stuff a long time ago.  This is Inner Peace through resignation.

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This approach has liberated us from a linear learning progression. We can go ahead and try more complex procedures prior to mastering the simpler ones, because what-the-hell that’s never going to happen anyway. And thus, we went ahead and tackled stirrup adjustment whilst mounted.

When I realized that learning to do this meant I wouldn’t have to get off the horse  – and thus back on the horse – I became interested.  Getting off and on the horse is a bit of project for me and I try to avoid it when I can.

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Karin knows this. And I’m convinced she knew it would motivate me to try. She explained the procedure one time and left me to my own devices in the arena.

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“You can let Goldie walk on while you adjust the stirrups,” she said before she shut the door on her way out.

This sounded great, because Goldie can be hard for me to get started and I hate to make her stop for any reason.

So Goldie and I ambled to and fro across the arena, each in our own little world. I managed to adjust both stirrups – one up, one down as it turned out – so I ended up riding like Desmond Howard in the Heisman Trophy pose.  But I did it!

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And thus I have reached another milepebble in my equestrian career.

Canter Language

We spent Lesson #78 in what Karin has tagged “The Great Indoors.”

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This is why we stayed inside:

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I had the pleasure of riding Krystal in what I would describe as a “standard riding lesson.” That is, Karin – mean, mean Karin – had the audacity to expect us to work. The four beat/two beat routine, just wasn’t enough for her.

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“Make her canter, Bob.”

What? She clearly did not understand. To me, a canter is not a gait. It’s a project. It takes a lot physical and mental energy for me to make something like that happen. You have to focus and allow your mind and body to work together.

My mind and body are constantly bickering and I usually just let them go at it. Now, I had to be like a father warning the brats in the backseat that they better start getting along or no ice cream.

And I was pretty rusty. During the good weather months, we spent most of our lesson time out the on trails of Legacy Stables. Instruction in Open Terrain, they call it.

Memories of a better day.

Memories of a better day.

“You know how to do this, Bob. Build up the energy, then the half-halt, get the outside leg back a little and push her into it. Use your legs. Don’t forget the verbal cue.”

That’s like about 87 steps. And you have to do them almost simultaneously. At least seamlessly. Overwhelm the horse with utterly clear instruction.

To the less experienced rider, it seems like the communication is issued from a set of several distinct actions. But I think the horse has to comprehend it as one big idea, a kind of synergy between the various cues. It all melts down into one thing: “Achtung Canter!”

Well… I Achtung Cantered all around that arena the best I could, but with no success.  What Krystal was hearing from me was: “Hey Girl: let’s trot a bit.”

“Bob! You can’t start posting when you’re want her to canter.  When you do that, she thinks you want her to trot.”

Stupid body.

Sensing my growing frustration, Karin escalated her intervention. As I rounded a corner, she approached and spoke some magic words to Krystal.

Krystal broke into a canter. That’s all we needed – a translator.

But Karin wanted me to do this myself. I tried again. And again. And again.

“Use your legs, Bob.”

I used my legs. Krystal broke into a canter. A sweet, lovely canter. The motion created a little indoor breeze that whistled past my ears. I like that.

Karin – mean, mean Karin – made us do it a second time. There will be no talk of flukes in The Great Indoors.

Actually, it’s good to be working like this again. Don’t misunderstand, I do not regret a single moment we spent on the trails this summer. And when the good weather returns, I have no doubt we’ll be back outside. There is much to be learned out there as well.

In fact, we don’t even need “good weather.”  Just a nice day.

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Backward Thinking and Apples

The apples are everywhere at Legacy Stables. They must be experiencing a bumper crop because I don’t remember it being like this last year. I think this property is best described as an apple orchard where someone put a house. Then a barn. Then an arena.  Karin calls it a Schlaraffenland:  the German version of the land of milk and honey.

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The more impatient apples are picking themselves and dropping to the ground on their own accord. Of course, they don’t fall far from the tree.

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But who has time to pick apples right now? Legacy buzzes with summer activity and even Double Karin can’t be everywhere. Lesson #71 took place just a few days before A Vaulting Connection left for the AVA Nationals in Denver. They have 10 kids going this year, plus Avenir and Caspian. It’s a huge, time consuming project.

Karin isn’t doing this alone, of course. No one could. In fact, the trip as planned wouldn’t be possible without the support of the kids’ families.

I think it’s so cool this many kids get to go. I think they’re going to have a blast.

Karin had some kind of business to attend to, so she turned Christi, Gabe and me over to Leoni for Lesson #71. We rode Avenir, Caspian and Goldie, respectively.

Karin suggested that Leoni teach us “something brand new.”

That phrase struck fear into my heart. I’ve seen the kind of things Leoni does on a horse.

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I certainly wasn’t prepared to flip about in the saddle or ride upside down.  It’s hard enough just getting on.

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With her morning coffee cup in hand, Leoni had obviously just gotten up.  But I could see the wheels turning in her head following her mother’s suggestion.

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I thought, “Oh no, the coffee is working – we’re in big trouble now.”

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On the other hand, we’ve seen how Leoni handles her younger vaulters: the calm confidence, the infectious enthusiasm, pushing for improvement but always making it fun. The kids love her.

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So, maybe she would go easy on us.

She took a sip of coffee and let those wheels turn for an extra beat. Then, her decision: “We’re going to learn how to back, but not straight.”

Ah, “not straight. ” I can do “not straight.”

Then she showed us what she meant by not straight. It was an “L”.

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I put this through my Concept Meter and it registered as “clear”. Not bad, just a 90 degree turn.

Leoni explained the basic principle: “If you want to turn left, you use your right rein and right leg. To turn right, you use your left rein and left leg.”

I like this kind of symmetry. All it takes is a willingness to think backwards.

At this point, the “I Remember This from Somewhere Alarm” went off in my brain.  It reminded me of when Hiliary and Jamie were into horses and I had to learn how to back a horse trailer. If I used backward thinking then, I certainly could use it now.

Left is right, right is left. It’s a simple formula – as long as you don’t overthink it.

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We did pretty well on our first attempt. Goldie was experienced in this maneuver and my brain minded its own business and allowed the hands and feet to work with the horse.

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However, while Christi and Gabe were taking their turns in the L, my brain began to pick at the details: Okay, so you work the right rein to turn left, but do you pull the reins in or out? And what exactly did I do with my leg? I wonder what I’ll have for lunch. Was there some kind of play in the ankle? Who’s pitching for the Tigers tonight?

By the time I took my second turn, my brain was creating so much noise that my hands and feet gave up any effort to take the initiative and simply waited for their instructions.

“Fine brain. Just give it to us step by step then.”

I totally blew the second try. Goldie was hopelessly confused. No matter which way I pulled the reins, we continued to swing in the wrong direction.

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Leoni attempted a few verbal corrections, but the frustration hole just got deeper.  Finally, she simply stepped in. Instead of feeding the frustration with more vocal commands, she physically pressed Goldie and me in the right direction backwards through the L.

It wasn’t pretty by any standard. By the time we were done, Leoni’s “L” looked like this:    \ \   /   \.  But we had accomplished the essence of the task.

Leoni smiled and said, “Okay, good.”

It would have been easier for her just to let us off the hook and say it’s not happening today. But when you start something with a horse and rider, it’s always best to finish it, whatever it takes.  I think that this kind of calm persistence is at the heart of a good riding instruction.

So yes, at Legacy Stables, the fruit doesn’t fall from the tree.

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The “G” Word

For Lesson #67 Karin had me ride Goldie.  Goldie is an old friend of mine.  My first taste of equestrian glory was with her:

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And last year, she made a huge contribution to the greater cause:

Goldie and Oakley.

Goldie and Oakley.

Goldie is Leoni’s horse…

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….but like all of the horses at Legacy, many claim her:

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I often hear that Goldie is “lazy” or at least harder to get moving than some of the other horses. I remember Karin giving me a crop and instructing me to annoy the horse into motion. Karin is a good teacher and knows my strengths.

 

I also often hear that Goldie is one of the fastest horses in the Legacy Herd. I’m guessing that has something to do with why she’s Leoni’s horse.

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On Lesson #67 Goldie’s higher gears became a subject of interest to me. Karin had us trot as expected:  “makehergo-makehergo-makehergo.” And this was followed by the now routine, “I want you to canter, Bob.”

And then she added, “Just don’t let her head for the Big Door.”

The Big Door

The Big Door

I glanced toward the Big Door and replied:

“Heh.”

I thought this may a good time to ask for my stunt double.

I’ve grown fond of cantering. The instant you see that horse head in front of you go into the rocking motion and you feel the acceleration, the brain must release some kind of addictive chemical that makes you want to:

1) Not stop.

2) Do it again after you stop.

We cantered around the arena three or four times. I had even less control on Goldie then I did on Krystal in Lesson #66. But I remembered what everyone said about how Perfect is overrated, so I just sort of found my balance and let Goldie and Nature take their course.

I admitted to Karin after we halted that I had no control from start to finish.

“You are an experienced rider now, Bob. I could tell you weren’t scared.”

This was true. It was more fun than frightening. Although, I did have the Big Door on my mind for most of the ride.

Then Karin added, “She doesn’t really have a good canter.  But when she goes faster, she beautiful.”

Goes “faster”…

It was as if Karin was trying to avoid saying the word. So I said it for her:

“You mean — her gallop?”

“Yes, it’s beautiful.”

This is the first time we’ve used the word gallop.  Usually, if Karin says a word, it won’t be long before I’m doing it.

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* * *

Jenny and I are going bike riding next week, so I won’t be posting here until the beginning of July. When I get back, I want spend two or three postings talking about Karin’s horses as an intro to the Legacy Stables Horse of the Month competition.

Also, if you would like to support this blog, the best way to do that is to go to the Bob the Equestrian Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BobtheEquestrian and click the “share” button under the post that references my latest blog entry. Your support is much appreciated!

 

Keeping the Sickle Sharp

It’s going to be a big weekend at Legacy Stables. Karin is hosting a vaulting fest & clinic on Saturday and Sunday. I thought about telling her we could skip my lesson this week and I could pick up an extra session next week after things settle down. I know how busy she is.

Leoni practices for the opening.

Leoni practices for the opening.

But it was just too nice of a day not to ride and we have to strike when the iron’s hot here in the Great Mitten. So I went.

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As planned, I arrived early. About 20 minutes before my lesson. In response to my previous post, loyal commenters Rachel and Danielle extolled the virtues of showing up early and proper grooming. So I was bound and determined to do both.

We had a lot of rain this week and Vinnie was pretty muddy. But instead of allowing myself to be overwhelmed with the gargantuan task of removing every speck of mud from the poor guy, I went into the Pretend Zen mode and simply focused on one area at time. I did not rush.

Vinnie relaxed on the crossties.  The fidgety, impatient, flat-eared Krumpel Huber of last week was gone.

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As I ran the curry brush over his neck, withers and back, I took note of the areas that seemed sensitive to him.  I went easier on those.

I also noted that the barn was quiet. No other horses, no other people.  Nothing going on. I think this had something to do with Vinnie’s demeanor as well.

By the time we finished and got tacked up, it was 35 minutes into my lesson hour. Karin said that this was a big improvement. Next week, I’m going to get started 40 minutes earlier.

We decided on some Instruction in Open Terrain.  This meant that we were going to go well over my allotted lesson time. I was a surprised Karin was taking the extra time for this.  She had so much do.

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Karin rode her old buddy, Charley.  Vinnie and I followed. It was a gorgeous morning. Perfect riding weather.

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As we started down the trail, Karin shared a short parable about a farmer who tried to cut grass with dull sickle. He was so overwhelmed with the amount of grass he had to cut that he declined to take the time to stop and sharpen the sickle. He worked all day long, into the evening, and still couldn’t get it all the grass cut.  With a sharpened sickle, he would have had the job done before noon.

Then, she turned in the saddle, looked back at me and said, “I sharpening my sickle right now.”

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It was a great ride.  On the way back, Karin’s phone rang.  Apparently, somebody had a few questions about the vaulting fest.  So that was it for the sickle sharpening.

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No matter. She was ready.

Grooming the Krumpel Huber

I spent lessons #62 & #63 with Vinnie. He’s still my favorite, despite being an old grump in the morning. Of course, this is what makes us a pair.

Karin calls him a “Krumpel Huber.”  The nearest translation I could come up with for this is “creased man with acreage.”  I’m thinking this might be akin to the classic grouchy old man who chases kids away from his watermelon patch.

Just look at those ears.

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Although, get him outside and on the move and his whole disposition changes.

Now look at those ears.

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Another thing I noticed about Vinnie is that he’s shedding like crazy.

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All the horses are. Karin broke out this tool:

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I know this is normal for this time of year. And I also know that grooming is an important part of the lesson and helps build the rider-horse bond.

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But my problem is that I’m not sure when to stop brushing. I worry that Vinnie will become like the horses in the Excessively Groomed Herd that runs down our river every so often.

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Even then, they’re still beautiful.

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Also, all this grooming really cuts into my lesson. By the time I get done brushing and struggling with the tack, I have about 14 seconds left for riding. Karin lets me ride overtime, but in all fairness, I should be able to get my lesson done on time and be out of the way for the next student.

So this summer, I’m going to arrive at my lessons a little earlier to get a head start on all the preliminaries. I tried this once before and it just angered all the other horses still in their stalls. But that was back before Karin moved to Legacy and the set up was different.

I think now the old Krumpel Huber and I will be able be able to groom, bond, and tack up without upsetting anyone too much.  And then we might have a little time at the end to let him do what he really wants:

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What Wikipedia Can’t Tell You About Saddles

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Lesson #60 began with Karin instructing me to pick out my own saddle. This is never a good idea. Normally, when Paul or I go get our own saddle without immediate supervision (pointing) it becomes a process of trail and error.  Like fetching the exact right kind of screwdriver for Mr. Fixit.

“This one, Karin?”

This one, Karin?

This one, Karin?

“No! That’s a (Western) (English) (Children’s) (Not even a saddle).  You want a (English) (Western) (Adult) (Something you can actually attached to a horse).”

“This one, Karin?”

“No.”

“This one, Karin?”

“No.”

“This one, Karin?”

“No!”

Back & forth we go until the process of elimination does its magic and we finally get the right one.

However, for Lesson #60 there was no process of elimination. I marched into the tack room and declared my choice. I based this selection upon my recollection of how each saddle felt in the past, what The Great Book of Horse Knowledge refers to as “seat memory.”

I picked this one:

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I had fond memories of learning how to post at the trot using this saddle.  What heady days those were indeed!

Karin was occupied with another matter – I think a horse was trying to get away or something – so I proceeded without the usual scrutiny.

Karin returned and eyed my saddle selection. She paused. When Karin pauses, it means you better pay attention. It’s her verbal half halt for human students.

And then the cue:

“That’s the dressage saddle, Bob.”

“Yes, it is!”

“You don’t like that one.”

“I have fond memories of this saddle, Karin.”

Another pause.

“Okay, then… go ahead and tighten it up and let’s get riding.”

Five minutes into our warm up and I knew that my “seat memory” had failed me. Sure, they were fond memories. They just weren’t accurate. This was the saddle I was thinking of:

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The above is what Karin refers to as the All Purpose Saddle. The dressage saddle has but one purpose: to make me feel awkward as hell. Just one more reason not to do dressage. The other reason is the clothes they make you wear.

Despite the saddle problem, I was able to get Vinnie to canter a couple of times by myself. Back in the Heady Days, cantering was unthinkable without the umbilical cord:

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Next time, I would like talk about getting in shape for warm weather riding. It’s that time of year! Actually, it’s the time of year I should already be in shape for warm weather riding. So I’ll just consider this a way early start for next year…

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When Karin Left the Building

Patrick Steven's doing his own Stand Up Project

Patrick Stevens doing his own Stand Up Project

I’m happy to report that The Stand Up Project is already working. No, I haven’t stood up on a moving horse yet, or even tried. But the mere notion is making everything else seem like small potatoes.  Posting, half-halts, transition to the canter – these once Near Impossible Dreams are now within easy reach.  Relatively speaking.

A cool twist on The Stand Up Project.  From my friend Sybil Buzzkill TenEyck. Not sure if this  makes it easier or harder.

A cool twist on The Stand Up Project. From my friend Sybil Buzzkill TenEyck. Not sure if this makes it easier or harder.

It’s sort of like being assigned a space mission to the third nearest star system (WISE 1049-5319) 6.5 Light Years away – that’s 38,207,000,000,000 miles in Earth Talk – and then being told the assignment has been switch to the friendly neighborhood planet of Jupiter, a mere 390,682,810 miles from us.

It takes a load off, I can tell you.

Warming up.

Warming up.

On Lesson #58, Karin put Paul on Krystal and me on Vinnie.  We did our usual warm up stuff while Karin took a few minutes to work with her new horse (yes, another one – more on that next time).  Then, as she was leading the new horse out of the arena and back to the barn, she turned and instructed us to “go ahead and canter.”

What? Just like that? “Go ahead and canter?”  Like she’s telling us to finish our orange juice?

She knows I can’t transition to a canter without her magic wand! Or something similar.

Did she forget about my problem with Transitional Defenestration?

Was she just being mean?

Then, I remembered The Stand Up Project. And all the effort and physical & mental conditioning I’ll have to do to prepare for that. If I can’t at least try to transition to a canter by myself on a warmed up horse that I’m already on, then The Stand UP Project is certainly never going to happen.

So I tried. I got my legs on Vinnie a little to get the energy level up and he responded by picking up the pace.  But before he broke into a trot, I held back slightly on the reins for an instant and then squeezed with my legs and commanded:

“Vinneeee… Achtung, Canter!”

And I’ll be damned – I saw his head start that beautiful rocking motion.  So I knew that we weren’t – in the words of loyal reader Danielle, -”trantering”:  the self-induced illusion of cantering, while the horse is actually trotting.

We had truly crossed the border into the Promised Land of Canter.

Karin was not there. I needed a witness.

“Paul, did you see that?”

“See what?”

We’re normally so focused on what we are trying to do, we just don’t have the time to see what the other guy is up to.

“We did it!”

“Well, that’s good… Did what?”

“We cantered by ourselves!”

“Well, that’s good…”

I needed Karin to see this. Now, I knew what the girls felt like at the horse shows when the judges wouldn’t look at them when they were doing something right.

There was nothing for me do to, except try again.  To make sure the first time wasn’t a fluke.

And again, Vinnie responded with the beautiful rocking motion.  I gotta tell you, at that moment, I was really enjoying this horse’s company.

I thought about cantering right out of the arena and finding Karin before Vinnie decided to quit. But here’s the door we would’ve had to squeeze through:

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So, no.

Instead, we stayed in the arena and did two more repeats for a Grand Total of four successful transitions to the canter in a row.

Karin said she actually saw us from outside the door.

But there was no magic wand.  Just pure magic.

Karin’s Magic Wand

On Lesson #57, we worked again on transitioning to the canter.  I came armed with a clear concept, grim determination and a good breakfast.  Cheerios. And a little cantaloupe.  Cantaloupe just seems like such a positive fruit to me.

But it takes more than Clarity & Cheerios & Optimistic Fruit to get this job done. I’m not sure what that might be, but I didn’t have it in Lesson #57.

This time, I wisely refrained from any achtung trotting during the warm up. So that wasn’t the problem. And Vinnie seemed to be responding to everything else I was telling him. We went left when I told him left. We went right when I told him right. We backed when Karin wanted us to.

But as I took Vinnie around the arena, I couldn’t get the transmission to go from 1st to 3rd gear.  By building up energy and then applying the half halt, you create a small window of opportunity in which to make the transition. But I just keep throwing myself out that window.

“Transitional Defenestration,” I call it. You heard it here first.

Karin told me to take Vinnie in small circles around her, as if we were longeing.

Several small, imperfect circles later, both the horse and I were perfectly frustrated. I could almost see Vinnie’s thought bubble:

Hu-mon.  Exactly what do you want?”

Karin knows the sound of car tires spinning in a snow bank when she hears it.

“You’ve told him several times to canter and he’s not doing it. You can’t let him get away with that.” It was time for another re-set.

This time, Karin actually got on Vinnie.  My job was to watch. Vinnie’s job was to listen.  After a couple of small circles we both got the idea.

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Karin always says that it’s very important to end a lesson on a positive note.  So whatever it took, this lesson was going to end with Vinnie and me cantering.

This is what it took:

A magic wand!

Why didn’t I think of that?