Anyway, I want to do some showing with Barnaby this year, and he really is hopeless in the school, so I've got Nicky Hunt back, who I used before, and finally, finally, we are beginning to make some progress, but it is very slow going.
You can see, just from Barnaby's build, that schooling him is like asking a rugby player to do ballet, but if I don't do something with him, he will just get worse and worse. I do think for his own health/bones/muscles, he needs to do some schooling.
So Nicky has been coming every week. One session she rides him and the next session I ride him. Last week I got so frustrated I actually swore! I have never sworn at an instructor in my life, so I was a little bit taken aback myself, and I did apologise, but if I don't say what I think, how is she going to know where I'm at? Basically, she is phenomenally good at schooling Barnaby, who is coming along nicely, but she's not as good at teaching me. I need her expertise, so that when Barnaby does something wrong, she instantly corrects him, and I don't always know how to do it. I feel totally dim, as if I can't ride at all. To be fair, I've never ridden a horse as bad as Barnaby is in the school. Even riding school horses can canter around an arena and keep themselves upright, for goodness sake, how hard can it be? Max never had any problems with it.
Every so often, you have a conversation with someone who makes a passing
comment without realising the huge significance behind it.
Mr O and I were talking the other day and I mentioned that Barnaby really drifts to the right on a hack. Obviously it's very noticeable on a road, as he drifts towards the traffic, so I have to regularly nudge him to make him stay over to the left. Mr O said, "Oh, he never does that with me." Further discussion led to the revelation that Mr O keeps his leg on the whole time to keep him over (strength as usual). So he spends an hour providing a leaning post and Barnaby says, "Thanks very much!" and spends the hour leaning on it. That in itself explains an awful lot, because the whole of Barnaby's schooling is about him learning to carry himself.
So Nicky is teaching us at a level that I always knew must be out there but was never allowed to have. It makes me want to cry and shout, "Why was I never told this before?" It makes me want to cry because my money might run out before we get really good. It makes me want to cry because we'll do some showing soon and it'll still be a disaster, because you still have to be able to canter and he still can't do it. Grrrr!
So I'm going to school him twice a week, because if I do more than that he'll mutiny, I know he will. I'll have my lesson with Nicky on Wednesdays and then I'll school him in a double bridle on Saturdays when he'll have to start cantering.
You probably know how showing works, but basically you all go in a ring together and ride round, sometimes all cantering together, which is lunacy, but shows you have control of your horse. Then you go and line up near the edge of the ring, all facing inwards in a line, and one by one the judge calls you out, and asks you to do a little 'show' which is a riding display showing walk, trot and canter on both reins. My concern is that Barnaby will just tank round in canter with his head down and crash into the line of horses, so we'll see.
I'm going to do two little local shows, one in June and one in July, then the main show I'm aiming him at is in August in our village. It's actually a county level show, but you don't have to be affiliated to take part. In the cob class the judge gets on and rides each horse, so I don't know how that bit will go either, but as it's cobs, you ride in a double bridle, so I'd have more control and so would the judge.
So we'll just have to see. I feel a bit more accountable now I've written it all down. Sorry it's a bit long today, but it really helps to get the frustration out of my system.
I've decided this is make or break year for us, because life's too short to have a stressful time with what is, actually, a wonderful horse. We will try some showing this year. If it goes well, I'll be thrilled and I'll do some dressage this winter to keep him going and we'll do more showing next year.
If not, then we'll do pleasure rides and the odd fun thing and that will be that.
I went out this morning to get Barnaby in for my lesson and he wouldn't budge. I put his headcollar on, attatched to the leadrop and pulled and pulled. He just looked at me. I flapped and shouted and even got on his back. He said nothing, but his feelings were perfectly clear (something about "You can keep that up all day love," but it wasn't quite clear.)
I sat down on the floor and cuddled up to him. We had a bit of a chat about the time I'd sat with him in the field for half an hour at the old yard, when his foot was still bad, and admired the view and that I'd known all that time ago that he should have been mine really, and now he was, and we dozed and I knew in my heart how much I love him.
And because my friend has been told by her vet that today is the last day her 26 year old Arab will spend on this earth, and it just puts everything into perspective, doesn't it? None of us knows how long we have together. Let's not waste a single day of it.