On my lunch today, I drove from the office to the barn where Sandy Savage works. I wanted to check out the trailer parking in advance of my lesson next Monday and get a feel for the lay out. Ooh la la. Pacific Equestrian Center is beautiful with large grassy paddocks, a jumping arena, a covered arena, two dressage courts and a covered round pen. The barns are beautiful and the grounds peaceful. I walked carefully down the dirt road to the dressage courts, trying to keep my pumps from getting too dusty. Get this: a woman who used to be at the barn where I trained my Friesian, Auke, was sitting in a chair by the judge's booth talking to Sandy Savage who was riding her gelding. Brett had trailered this woman's 2-year old gelding up here a number of years ago when she moved. Sandy was riding that gelding, who is now nine and showing at 4th level. I introduced myself to Sandy and she smiled, "I read your blog" she said. Watching her ride and talking to the owner made me want to get to work with Winston right then.
I managed to get home from work early enough to ride Winston before dark. Brett wanted to ride Mufasa in the dressage court so we headed out there too.
While Brett and Mufasa warmed up at the far end by C, I lunged Winston down at A. Winston was prompt in his transitions, from my voice, and he looked great. I praised him and he tried harder. "You think that looked good? Get a load of this!" We did some transition work and when he was nice and loose, I got onboard. Winston marched right into the court and got to work. Brett rode Mufasa past us, down towards A and Winston had a mini-meltdown. "OMG, Mufasa is leaving me. I'm going to be alone in the big scary dressage court in the hinterlands. Whaaaaaaahhhh."
"Winston," I said, "you are a big boy and you are not going to die. Those little half rears and trying to run backwards are not acceptable behavior. Put on your big boy pants and do some turns on the forehand for me. Now. Like that. More. Good boy." ...and I called over to Brett "would you mind riding up at the C end of the arena so he doesn't think you are leaving?" Other than a silly spook a while later at the blue chairs that have been on the side of the court forever, Winston was awesome. We even had consistent transitions from walk to trot that didn't involve llama-neck, dropping-back syndrome. He stayed nice and round in the transition. I could feel him stepping way under with his inside hind on our 20m circles. Canter, well, it still needs some work but the transitions were smooth and he tried to bend around my leg.
I called it a day there. The moon was coming up and the chores still needed to be done. I told Winston he was a rock star and he nodded. "I am all that and more," he said, "and you need to be riding me a lot more. I miss you."
I miss you, too, Winston. But we are getting back on track. I promise.
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