Well I took two of my 4 horses to a sleep over at another barn for some lessons in Classical work, and I was very proud of them. Stonee, my giant horse, is afraid of everything and very insecure, due to being kept in one barn for 8 years of his life and not really getting out. He was much better this time, the anxiety is lessening. And Indy, my 4 year old Appendix was an absolute star! She loaded well after having inspected the trailer, and travelled well. After the lessons she hung out with me in the barn aisle while I chatted with some other riders, and they all couldn't believe she was only 4 and so well behaved! I have always managed to produce bomb proof horses, as years ago in Jamaica I had a string of 35 in my riding school, and I had to teach disabled kids so the horses had to be bomb proof.
I remember being taught to ride by my first coach Pamela Goodwin, who was Irish. We learned on school ponies in a small "menage". This was an oval shaped ring and not very big, and the ponies went around like they were on train tracks, while we tried to learn to walk, trot and canter with no stirrups and no reins! We were not allowed either until we could stay on at all 3 gaits. Then we would be moved into the big arena, and those klunky school ponies suddenly came to life and we had to ride a horse that was now going forward! This then progressed to jumping in a lane with 8 or so low jumps set along the wall, and we did them all with no hands so we could learn to follow the horse. After that we rode in her jumping field which was not flat, it was hilly and you were always either jumping uphill or down hill, I tell you we all learned to have a balanced seat and that has never left me. Our final training was being taken out on trail rides and learning to handle horses in the open, in a group and galloping cross country. We lost our fear out there. I consider myself so lucky to have encountered a woman who never fought with her horses, cleaned tack after every ride, and always looked after the horses first before eating herself. Her barn was spit and polish - not so the house! But we loved going there and on rainy days we would learn about different bits, though she never used more than a simple snaffle herself. To this day I maintain this training regimen with my own students, and try to pass on the infectious love of horses and the respect for how they enrich our lives to all who come to Wit's End.
We were encouraged to spend time with the horses, grooming them and just talking to them. We never ignored them when they were sick or lame, and soaking an abcess or wrapping and coldhosing legs was never a chore to us. We learned that the love of horses was a lot more than just riding! She told me once "just imagine in your mind what you want your horse to do, and they will do it". I never realized that she was teaching me that horses are telepathic and communicate in pictures. I still to this day always tell my horses - in my mind in pictures - what is going to happen and send them photos of the surroundings. I told Indy and Stonee where we were going for our sleep over and that everything would be alright and it was. And if I ever forget to do this preview - I have a hell of a time! So call me crazy, but Pamela knew what she was doing, and I never saw her yell or beat up her horses, more than just a slap on the shoulder with a jumping bat! She rode horses no one else could handle with the greatest of ease, and never used devices like draw reins, sidereins, complicated bits and bungees. She was a purist, and the good unadulterated horsemanship I learned from her as lasted me a lifetime. The knowledge has enabled me to train difficult, and crazy horses like the cocaine and heroine addicted horses I got off the racetrack in Jamaica. I learned patience and that the horse is always right, so you better just figure out what they are trying to tell you! Till next time, cheers, Ann.