Report: all well!
I did take Flash to the Mary Schwentker clinic Saturday. This is the third time I have taken a green horse to her clinic, because I love the way she starts at zero, and can modify her approach, moving as quickly (or not) as the horse and rider need so that everyone leaves with a good experience. It is all very positive.
So, our first obstacle was a long tree trunk on the ground. About the diameter of a rail road tie. Flash panicked. Oooookaaaaaay, either we are having an extreme crisis of confidence, or there are some very BIG, GAPING holes in our basics… With a lead, he managed to walk, and then trot, over this very intimidating obstacle.
Next was a slightly larger tree (about 12 inches on the high side, eight on the low). More “Oh my Dog! Can’t! What?” So we walked up, had a look, hopped. Several times over that he was starting to feel a little better about the day. Then we went to the really big log (yeah, probably 18 inches). Walk up, sniff, circle, hop. Now Flash is starting to strut. We hopped that a few times and went to a different log, about the same size. “I got this, honey,” he said. Trot, hop. Good Flash!
Next up: baby banks and drops. With a lead, he went up and down, then did it all by himself. So Mary sent us off the real thing! I hadn’t really planned on it, but he was seriously congratulating himself on his ability to go up and down one foot banks and drops, why not add another foot? No problem, he said. Straight off the drop and then launched into his happy dance! Too funny, so back up we go! Again, no problem. By now, Flash is starting to think he’s the bomb! So off to the ditches.
Ditches gave us a bit of pause. You never know what might be lurking down there (apparently a lot of goblins can hide in six inches), so he had to check it out thoroughly before launching for the other side. But he went over. Many times. Next up: water.
Here is where I expected problems. I was told he would, under no circumstances, do water. Hmm. We’ve been having puddle and mud practice on Montpelier, and while he really didn’t like it, I did get him through. An actual water complex? Well, it took a horse in front and one behind to shove him in the first time, and he danced like he was on fire. After that he’d walk, then trot, with a lead. And then all by himself! And then he trotted in and jumped out! It took another lead to get him to jump back in, but at the end, he jumped in and out and ran through all by himself. One more very tired happy dance and I hopped off. Nothing more I could ask of him and he answered every question correctly. I am going with BIG, GAPING holes in our basics. We shall start from zero.
Smash, also, went out this weekend. Keswick hunter pace. He acted exactly as I thought he would. His first time leaving the farm for any reason other than racing: he was looking for the track. But because he is essentially a calm, intelligent little horse, there were no ugly antics. An inability to stand still? Yes. Nervousness? Yes. Jigging for five miles? Yes. But when I asked him to trot, it was just a trot. No trying to run away. After five miles he either conceded that there was, in fact, no race today, or decided I was so totally stupid as to get us completely lost on the way to the track. Either way, he settled into his beautiful power walk, and I was able to very quietly hop a few very small jumps on the way back in. He is a very brave little horse, and led the whole way around. He never even considered backing off the little jumps we hopped from the walk. Right now, the only thing this horse needs is mileage. He needs to hop on a trailer and go for a trail ride every week.