I started the clinic day with two goals: 1) I wanted Courage to have a positive experience and 2) I wanted to ride proactively and make good decisions.
We loaded about a half hour after we meant to, which meant that we literally pulled in to the clinic facility as our group was supposed to start. As we threw tack on, a horse got loose from another trailer and RACED past us. Redheadlins and I breathed a sigh of relief as our horses watched boredly, but then it came around for another pass. Seriously? Of course this happens when it is your OTTB's first ever clinic/xc experience.
|Who's afraid of loose horses?|
We rode over and joined the group. Courage had his head up and was looking, but as we talked with the instructor (and signed releases from horseback, OTTB win), he started to settled in. It was a goup of four and we walked and trotted in a big circle and talked about techniques for riding in large groups safely, from position to etiquette. Courage spent his time figuring out how to balance and stretch. He didn't care at all that the steering of the group members perhaps wasn't what it could be and that the other horses occasionally buzzed him.
|Trotting in a group lesson|
The instructor did break us into two groups to canter. I'm pretty sure she thought two green riders on broke horses combined with two recent racehorses was just a bit much to all be running around at once.
|Looking like an event horse|
Lil' Courage picked up both leads correctly on the first try, and let me practice all three seats at the canter. He wasn't even concerned about the other horse or the changing footing. What a star.
Next we started trotting through some poles, working on our straightness and direction. New poles in a new place? No big. He set the standard for straight lines and I managed not to make a complete ass out of myself, despite the instructor threatening some old-fashioned vigilante justice if I used an indirect inside rein one more time (oops).
|Only the cutest horse in the group|
|Heading into the great unknown!|
|Hello eventing world|
He thought no. Also, he hasn't been keeping up on yoga and he was embarrassed to try levitating in front of his new friends if he didn't think he could be the best at it. Oh Courage. He finally made it through the little dip with the instructor leading him, but then the other two horses were well ahead of us and Diva had no intention of rushing through a similar meditation.
|Trotting by our onsies|
The horses helped a little bit, but he was still feeling like he wanted to freak out and explode in every direction. I decided that I would help us both out by choosing a direction. I trotted him forward. We half halted just enough to stay in balance, but I wanted that energy to go in a positive direction. We serpentined around and he started to settle even in the big field.
We finished off the lesson by leaving the group and walking over a series of natural obstacles. Courage was awesome once he got the idea. Had it been earlier in the lesson, I would have tried trotting them, but at that point, I thought it was wise to keep things simple.
|Baby xc rockstars|
Diva took exception to loading, so Courage and I had a nice time hanging out with the other members of our group while he ate grass and was generally admired.
All things considered, we definitely achieved our objections. Courage had a very good experience and exceeded my expectations with his good behavior. I am very happy with the decisions I made to keep his feet on the ground.
|On a loose rein|