June 22, 2012

Away Again IS Away Again!

That's right, baby Flying Solo is back in business and got the seal of approval from David last Saturday at our lesson.  I had hauled Encore up to Virginia where he was giving a clinic at a friend's farm because it was exactly three weeks after his injections, when the vets told me to evaluate -- I figured who better to evaluate than the man who had given me the plan in the first place!

A lesson with David is never easy, but he has an unfailingly quick eye and his worlds (literally) of experience always gets you where you need to go.

You start with what I like to call the David Circle Of Death -- while it looks deceptively easy, you are working HARD and it usually leaves me panting desperately, chanting Do not fall off your horse in front of him, do not fall off your horse in front of him....  I could still breathe at the end this time, which leaves me wondering whether my protein shakes are indeed working or David was just being easy on Encore.  I'll pretend it was the first one, it makes me feel better.

I barely managed to not squeal aloud with glee when David pronounced him better, but I couldn't contain a completely foolish grin of joy.

You then follow with an alluringly simple gymnastic, which you unfailingly override and then feel like an idiot.  But the horses do fine and get to thinking about picking up their feet and putting the jump in the middle of their bascule.

Next you begin to work a few lines.  As noted on the video, I really struggled with the grey oxer -- something about the colour and arrangement of the poles made it impossible for me to read and Encore seemed to struggle with getting a line on it as well.  It was a very odd feeling to turn the corner and see...nothing.  That has never happened to me before and as a result, I proceeded to mess it up many times.

Once your horse is traveling well through the lines, you put some courses together, increasing in complexity.  The jumps stayed low this time since Encore hasn't jumped in over a month, but he felt good and when I wasn't doing ridiculous things on his back, he jumped well.  No rushing, no anxiety -- the problem really WAS the pain and not my training.  Which makes you feel good.  Then bad.  Then good.  Then bad.  Then you just try to stop thinking about it.

During our last course, Encore's weak side got tired; you can see he struggles to pick up his left lead.  David still never fails to have a simple fix for me.  Everything goes smoothly when he is around -- I just need to somehow kidnap him and haul him around in my trailer to horse trials.  Except his wife would most certainly murder me in the night.  Dangit.

Thank you so much to Sue, the farm owner, clinic hoster, and mad tough eventer, for taping us!  After being gone all week chasing fish, I hope to spend the weekend getting back in the groove while trying not to die of heat exhaustion.  The lake just might win me over, though, when the Carolina sun gets brutal around 3:00 in the afternoons...



    Guess now I'm living vicariously through this horse blog as well (as mine is gone to Green Pastures), 'cause usually I don't get THAT excited. Lol.

  2. I think he's looking fabulous!!

  3. so cool to see the lesson broken down like this. I learned a lot. love his canter too. he makes it look so easy.

  4. Yay for gorgeous Encore. What great video to have and watch over and over!

  5. Yay Encore! SOOO happy to see him back to his usual happy self.

    I'm gonna have to try out that deceptively simply gymnastic at home. How far out are the cavelettis - 12 feet?

  6. Great news! He looks great! Makes me have lesson envy.

  7. Thank you all! Ok, maybe I did squeal with glee...

    Dom, all our lessons with David follow that general pattern, you just work on different things at different levels and somehow, at the end, your horse is going fabulously!

    jenj, usually for a bounce pole, it is set 9 feet out. You can roll to adjust as you please.

  8. Lookin' GOOD, alright! SO glad Encore's back is feeling better!!!

    You don't have to tell me those Circles of Death are hard, believe me. I would not have lasted even 10 minutes of that, esp. with no break between trot and canter! I'm taking sympathetic breaths for you! :-) Furthermore, I'd be so pooped afterwards I doubt I could go on to do even half the jumping.

    I liked that gymnastic. I'm a big fan of those, and enjoy the way they sharpen up me and the horse before tackling any kind of "regular" jump. In fact, makes me appreciate my old trainer. She often had us do something like that. In my latest lessons, it was right to trotting little single verticals.

    David is an excellent trainer, for sure. I guess you both felt E was up to a full lesson like that (surprises me a little), but he didn't look like he got tired, so you guys obviously knew what you were doing! :-)

    Incidentally (and sorry this is turning into a novel), I was thinking of your Other Red Horse yesterday. I watched a video of the Nexen Cup show jumping Derby at Spruce Meadows. An American rider's horse slammed on the brakes before a grog (so going downhill), slid in the grass (he'd lost both front shoes earlier on the course), and literally did a fore-and-aft split. If his stifles didn't hit the ground it was damn close. Idiot freakin' rider gets him up, trots around while jump crew resets the fence, and then proceeds to BEAT the poor animal through the 3-element grog, demolishing the fences while he's at it. And then went in to take down the last two jumps on the course, too.

    Now, I ask you, is there any way in hell that horse's stifles and butt (which is why I thought of Solo, of course) are OKAY after that?!? It was ridiculous. And guy has the nerve afterwards to tell a reporter, "I didn't know he'd lost his shoes. I was actually quite pleased with his performance." Made my blood boil...

  9. You guys are looking good. Glad #2 is back!

  10. RW -- thanks! And yes, we were just feeling Encore out -- as long as he felt ok, we were ok. Normally his jumps would be higher, but I specifically heard David tell BO to keep them low for Encore as we evaluated. You don't know what you have until you try and three weeks was when the vet said to find out!

    And OMG, no kidding -- there is no way a horse does the splits and doesn't pull something bigtime! I can't even do the splits. Ever.

    Thanks, SB, I'm so excited. We have a lot of work to do this summer and I just hope we get to do it!

  11. Love the circle of death! We haven't done it yet this year. Glad your boy is back!