Second sigh came after meeting the Instructor, who as it turns out, owned Gambler for a short time. She was so nice and made me feel very welcome.
I'm not going to do a full play by play, but it was a fantastic clinic. She made sure that she took time with each one of us through each obstacle, and then helped us piece it all together. If our horse struggled with an obstacle, she helped us help our horses.
Trax was so wound up the entire time, it was a little annoying to me, but she didn't let it phase her, which in turn helped me relax as well. I suspect that part of his problem was my tension. Of course his major major hole was the rope gate. I was surprised at the fact that he went whacko over pulling a tire, since he had no problem dragging that barrel. But when she tried to hand me the rope he tried to bolt so she had me get off and just desensitize him to the rope. We did not even attempt a drag.
I found that he really had a hard time with the "do a task now stand and wait for some one else to go" scenario over and over again. But he needs to learn to be okay with it, so this was a good experience for him.
His other hole was a right lead. He will left lead all day long, but struggles with the right. Finally I asked, "How do I cue, and help him into that right lead?" It is something I have never known, and sure enough, the way I have been trying to do it was totally backwards. Once I learned what to do we started making progress.
There were times when I would ask him to just stand and be quiet and he was dancing and spinning all over the place. I tried to do some lateral flex to get him to settle down but he would end up spinning into other people. THAT was pretty darn frustrating! Then all of a sudden he would just stop, drop his head and stand so quiet.
He did the box wonderfully, stepped in, did his circle (coke bottle style of course) and stepped out with out fault. Oh but when he first stepped in, he decided that the box was a little box and set him self up for a nice pee. It was hilarious and everyone got a good laugh out of it. When it came time to side pass over the poles, he wouldn't line up next to them. Finally someone else suggested that we start in the middle. So it was walk forward until front feet were between the poles and then side pass the shortest distance. That made it easier for him as long as I didn't look down. My biggest problem was focusing on the obstacles instead of just riding as if the were not there.
The one thing that our instructor was fabulous at was talking us through each step. With Trax it was usually, "Forward, now settle, take a deep breath, let him breathe, now move the shoulder, now settle, now move the hip, now settle..etc, etc, etc." The biggest thing with the crazy paint is just getting him to "settle" with each small move, and breaking the obstacles down into foot falls. Brilliant! All of this was a great exercise in moving separate body parts, which he really needs.
Then came the time for us to each do the entire course. We did not go through without fault, but I used each mistake as a training session. I did not let him leave and obstacle until he, at the very least, would stand still next to it and relax. When we got to the poles he got stuck again because I looked down. When I turned him around and stared straight ahead, he went up like a champ, stopped, and the did a faultless sidepass all the way down (with me asking for it) so I finished up by moving his hip where it needed to be to complete the task of riding up through and then backing straight out. When we were done the instructor says to me, "That horse really wants to be a good boy!" So although it was wrong of him to go before I asked. I was impressed that he understood what the task was after only having done it twice before. I'm pretty sure that he took that very moment to show off the one thing he really does well!
After that, I loosened his girth and called it good. Then we just watched the rest of the riders. I was beat and so was he.
Here he is looking very regal after the class.
Even with being wound up, I was very proud of him.
When we got home I hosed him down and then he had a nice dirt bath.
I am so glad I made the decision to go. It was worth every penny, and truthfully with some work I can see him doing really well in this class. TC has already started making me a rope gate, and I picked up the rope this after noon. So now in addition to what I have to work on with MK, I have that desensitizing stuff too. The good news is, that part of it can be our tasks for the non riding days.
Hope that everyone is having a great weekend!