Anyway... my pants stayed dry, and we all used the facilities, tacked up our horses, and started.
The indoor was smaller than ours, narrower and not as long, compounded by the fact that about 1/5 of one end was blocked off with fence panels with various farm detritus behind them. Given that the idea was to try to simulate the show experience - warm up and showing both - it felt a bit daunting. We also had to make what was left into 2/3 show pen, 1/3 warm up pen, with a wall post as the line of demarcation, so it felt even smaller. I hadn't expected to feel anxious, so I was surprised it bothered me as much as it did.
Jake Masterson, the trainer, put each of us through a run, then had us break the bits down... first, spin, then discuss: how did that feel? How do you think you could have made it better? (Also: this is practice: if you need to do something here to make them wake up, do it!). Then move on to the circles... etc.
My discomfort with the size of the arena flavored how I did things, I think. We were supposed to - and needed to, given how raw the day was - work our horses in the "practice pen" area when he wasn't working one-on-one with us. The owner of the property and another lady were also riding in there, so it was busy and cramped, which made trying out some of the suggestions Jake told us to practice difficult.
Anyway, I was pretty unhappy with a few things. Jake is good about helping you work through your issues though. Still, I was getting tired, and Cinch was getting impatient and a bit pissy - one time he managed to flick the reins up while throwing his head down, with both reins landing between his ears, on a large fast circle. I got them back, but that was one for the books. :) I'd been on him for over two hours at that point though, so when that one-on-one was done, I got off, loosened his girth and brought him to a cross-tie, gave him some water, got myself lunch (he'd had hay on the trailer but we didn't bring any into the aisles) and then got back on. While I was gone, some of the other ladies were worked, while others also took a short break. My friend Angel (whose horse we thought might have navicular disease despite being young, fit, and athletic, about a year ago - it turned out he had a deep bruise that was only able to be diagnosed with MRI, he went on months long stall rest, changes in shoeing, in supplements, and finally, slowly brought back to work a few months ago) also took her horse out - though he's been back to work for a few months now, that was a long time for her to be on his back and she did not want to jeopardize the progress he's made. She's not showing at the end of the week, either, so she didn't feel a pressing need.
It was a breather both Cinch and I needed: when I went back in we worked the pattern one last time - and it certainly wasn't flawless but all the pieces were done much better, for a better whole.
Soon after, we all packed up and headed back to Dunstable. It was a long day, but it felt like we accomplished something.
Sunday's lesson, with Angel and her horse too, was outstanding. We warmed up outside because it was GORGEOUS out, and Cinch and I did perfect circles, rating down for the small slows with barely a twitch. Angel and TMan worked circles too, though she's only started doing pattern work with him again, so not quite as perfect... but pretty darn good.
Then back inside. Jake is helping me ride Cinch's sliding stop... by making Cinch do a better sliding stop. By getting him to drop his head and round up when he slides, the stop isn't as jarring... which means I don't brace for it, so we're both happy. It's still a work in progress, with me not quite getting it, so he had me run Cinch at the door, pushing him until the very last minute (or he slammed his head into the door, which was hardly likely), then sitting deep.
Well, every run at the door got his head down and his back up and back legs tucked, then I rolled back and ran him the other way and got his head down, back up, legs tucked... and it was comfortable, I wasn't bracing, and it finally is starting to click.
I took Cinch in, gave him his mango and peach coconut water (he literally drools when he sees the bowl coming out), groomed him up and put him back in his stall with carrots and an oat and honey granola bar waiting for him.
After the lesson I went out and got the Great White Wh^H^H^^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Tico, cleaned him off (he's FINALLY starting to drop more coat!), found another tick (crap!), cleaned it up and tacked him up and we went out to the power lines. By that time it was around 4PM and other horses were being hayed, so he wasn't exactly thrilled with me.
Photos below courtesy of Elizabeth deSmet, who loves taking photos of me with my head in embarrassing places.
We ambled out to the far end of the property, through the gate, and to the right, eventually angling over to the left and the power lines, to follow them back towards the pond. A dirt bike had been going out there when it was still pretty wet, and had dug up the dirt in a few places, but we walked by them without much of a lookie-loo taken.
The path along the power lines on the far end of the field, besides tending to be a bit boggy this early, is uneven. Given Tico's fetlock bone spur, we usually just amble along until the ground is less... undulating, let's say. Then I offer him the chance to take a nice canter (or gallop, if he's so inclined), heading towards the pond.
So, once the ground was flatter, I said "Whatcha think... canter?" and he jogged. I said, "Canter? That's a trot!" so he trotted faster. Eventually that worked its way into a canter. I had my phone out and was recording it (maybe I had a preomonition, since videoing our canter along the power lines seems to invite some kind of horse insanity) when we came to the churned up mud of death.
Granted, this wasn't the same churned up mud we'd already passed. And I was starting to ask him to slow down - he gets really into his canter around this part and often takes off the last 20-30 yards going to the pond (probably because the grass is really nice and green there and he lives in hope.)
So I was asking him to slow down, but wasn't actually expecting the rapid levitation and relocation about 5 feet to the left. I got it all on video, too.
Anyway, once we examined the deadly mud up close (and he tried to eat it), we moseyed on along to the pond. As we were passing the old bee hive boxes there, we startled a blue heron into flight.
Tico twitched. Perked his ears. Watched.
After the heron landed across the way, still on the banks of the pond, I tried to take Tico closer for a photo. He had no problem with it, of course. But there's a small but deep brook/ditch that separated us from the heron, so I couldn't get a good photo.
Blown up from the photo, the best I could do
I took a few of the pond itself, then headed over to the other side, hoping to get closer to the heron.
I don't know where it came from, but I like the magenta rainbow...
We succeeded only in making him (her?) fly away again. Oh well.
We did see a goose taking a bath, though it flew off as we approached, too.
So we had one last gallop in the field next to the barn, headed back (with a short stop for Tico to graze a bit - I'm sure he felt it was his due) and ended the day with a quick grooming, an oat and honey bar, and his hay waiting for him.