en route

HUGE AMAZING LIFE CHANGES TODAY: Speedy is finally home!!!

Speedy boarded a semi rig yesterday morning around 10 am (a shockingly civilized time for horse haulers) to come and live in Oregon with me. Not with me like at my house. I don’t do horses at my house (I have no fences, no barn, no arena, and no desire to wake up at 6 am to throw hay). But to my trainer’s place.

Which brings up another big change: Speedy is not going to TrJ’s.

This WikSmart cooler is super neat! It has belly and chest panels that smush up against the horse to get those hard-to-dry spots, and it wicks so well that sweat was beading up on the outside of the fabric after a while.

When I had Murray in my trainer’s program in California, a few people left the program here and there saying that they just weren’t getting what they needed out of our trainer. I was always a bit confused by that. B let students haul out to other trainers, bring in other trainers, go to clinics, run clinics, take weekly lessons, take daily lessons…. the sky was the limit on how you wanted to learn, really. And while I could see shortcomings in B’s teaching philosophy, I also strongly felt that a good student could get what they needed out of any reasonably good teacher. No teacher would be perfect, but when you’re obsessed with learning you don’t need fantastic teachers, you just need a teacher.

Over my three years at TrJ’s program, I’ve come to understand what those people meant. I have had great lessons and great rides on great horses in TrJ’s program. But there was just something…. not there for me. Part of it was certainly TrJ’s reluctance to take riders to or bring in clinicians other than one or two approved instructors, once a year. Another was that I never felt like my riding development was a priority for TrJ. Probably this was because I never had my own horse there and never made competitions a priority. It was probably also because I have some training/philosophical differences with TrJ that I discovered early on, and wasn’t ready to let go of them to embrace her ways. Doubtless she could tell I wasn’t 100% in on her program and subconsciously reflected that lack of commitment back to me.

Speedy was a little bit toooo interested in touching Sebastian’s butt on our trail ride. Also L and I kept swapping/messing up their names and it was so embarrassing, like when I don’t know what name to yell at the dog.

All of those things on their own, would have been totally manageable for me. But together they just added up to a program where I wasn’t getting what I needed.

Last year, I was talking with our course designer for WSS and he let me know that a new trainer would be moving to my area, and strongly encouraged me to get in touch with her if I was serious about my riding goals. This, of course, inspired a flurry of internet stalking, trying to figure out said trainer’s timeline without harassing her, and playing out scenarios in my head. I wanted to wait until the right time to get in touch, and make sure that plan EuroPony really was going through before I tried to commit my horseless self into her program.

As we know now, it did go through, Speedy is here, and NewTrJ* said I was welcome to join her as soon as she was moved up here. So Speedy headed directly to her barn in the wee hours of this morning (aka standard operating hours for horse haulers).

(*Also a J-named trainer, so TrJ she will stay.)

I had this arrangement sorted by the time Speedy’s sale went through, and then I just had to sit on my decision and find the right time to talk to TrJ about it. I dawdled longer than I probably should have. I didn’t want her to get frustrated and kick me out, because I was having a great time with Patrick, but I also didn’t want her to be holding a stall for me that I would never use. So I bided my time for an early November chat. Then she had a hip surgery, then a setback in hip surgery recovery, then her dog died, and then for three straight days every time I loitered to try to get a hold of her one-on-one everyone and their mom showed up loudly needing her attention.

despite having an auto-water and bucket immediately to his left, Speedy desired this algae-mosquito water

Finding the gumption to talk to TrJ face to face about my decision was hard. I sweated about it for days, and on the way to the barn I literally recited what I wanted to say to her. I didn’t beat around the bush: I told her that I realized Speedy (and I) needed a program where he could get trainer rides. He’s still green enough that he needs someone educated to help him learn how to do the things. And my schedule is stupid enough that there are times — sometimes weeks — when I’m literally unavailable to ride my horse. If I want to have any hope of competing, I’m going to need someone to be training my horse and training me how to ride that trained horse. TrJ was obviously bummed but understanding, and we left things on a good note with the door always open to me. For which I am grateful.

And that right there is another big change. I was not a “full training” rider in California. I was a ride-or-die-d-i-y when it came to training. I wanted to learn to do the thing but I also wanted to learn how to teach the horse the thing and I wanted to teach the horse the things myself. I have a way better understanding now of the value of a good teacher and an educated butt to help a horse’s learning. And despite my feelings on being a good student and learning, I would never deny that fantastic teachers get concepts across better, faster, and with more salience.

Kate did ground work with Speedy two nights in a row and said she could have kept working with him all week. Here they have a private discussion, indubitably about my shortcomings as a trainer.

I’m pretty excited about all these changes. The only bad thing is that NewTrJ’s place is about 40 minutes from my house (instead of fifteen, sigh). But lots of riders I know have further and less beautiful commutes to get to their horses. I’m excited to have NewTrJ teach me, and teach Speedy. I’m excited to get to see Speedy every day! I’m excited for all the adventures I already have planned for the hony.

I don’t believe in jinxes, so I’m not afraid to say it: We are going to have a great year.