As I’ve progressed through life, as many people before me have also discovered, that it is better to have fewer, but better quality things over lots of cheap crap that won’t last the year. The better quality stuff also stands the test of time and the rigors of daily barn use. I tried the “pleather” tall boots about six years ago. If they had only been used once a week, they would have probably have been just fine and stuck around for a while. They departed this world and into the bowels of the local landfill after only six months. What can I say, Bigfoot is hard on her shoes. Interestingly enough, my pricier Ariat leather tall boots have been with me for over 5 years now and still look fabulous even with regular use. I am definitely getting my money’s worth out of them.
I’m also learning that the same holds true for training a young horse. Even with fewer days of work and shorter time spans when working, you can see positive progress IF the time is used wisely. (Cue the wise old owl.) And lets face it, most of us have to work full-time to support our equine obsession, and we have families, and a house to take care of, and all the other To-Do’s in our lives. I can’t spend all day every day with my horses. My barn time is limited, so I’ve got to make the most of the time I do get in the saddle. Ms. C also keeps me focused and is always reminding me that Ike will only be as good as I am. If I space out while riding and paddle around in a half-hearted trot, then we aren’t really accomplishing anything with our training. If I mount with a game plan in mind, and keep myself focused, then we can accomplish a lot in a 30 minute ride.
And probably like many others out there, I do my best riding while under close scrutiny of my trainer. Am I right? There is no wasted time during my lesson. It is most definitely high quality saddle time. Got my weekly lesson in today since it was a day off for me. Since show season is over, we’ve stopped schooling the test movements and are focusing on getting Ike through and really using his back. There is also quite a bit of time spent making me a better rider. I’ve got to work on the timing of my half halts if I ever hope to progress beyond First Level. Luckily for me, Ms. C is a patient woman. She is also generous with her verbal instructions – it is almost like she is riding the horse and performing the aids herself. If I’m struggling to figure out which aids to use and when, she will call out the sequence as if she was calling a dressage test, “Squeeze outside rein, put you inside leg at the girth, relax your shoulders, look up, half halt, half halt again, remember to release after you half halt (oh, yeah, oops).” Those verbal instructions plus her saying, “Do you feel that? Do you feel what you have right now?” Um, yeah, sure. “That is your 8 trot. That trot is through; Ike is coming up and out of his withers and you are recycling the energy.” Okay, I think I’ve got it. Then we take a break, and then Ms. C tells me to try to recreate what we had. Sigh, sometimes I nail it and sometimes I struggle.
Ike’s work was spot on today and I didn’t do too badly either. Fewer struggles today which always makes me happy, but almost all days at the barn are days to smile. Love that quality barn time with my equine partner.