Boot camp has commenced. I decided last spring that as soon as drill was over this season I was going to begin intensively working on getting my horse really darn broke. I want her light, responsive, soft, supple as well as doing flying lead changes, spins and stops. I'm sure our backing and roll backs can be improved upon as well, among other things. I want her to be able to do all of that framed up and on a loose rein. I want to feel like I deserve to wear my "Reining Champion" buckle, not laugh at myself when I put it on because I still cannot do a flying lead change, which, to me, is part of being a reiner, like needing oxygen is part of being human.
So as soon as drill was over mid-July I got to work. At first it was just working on my own, when I could manage to get on my horse. It was a busy few weeks so I didn't get as many oppurtunities to ride as I would have liked, but when I did I thought about where I wanted my horse to be and what I needed to do to get there and worked on it. I made progress and I was happy with it.
While I do love drill and it was very instrumental in getting Midori to where she is today, it has seemed lately that it is a little counter-productive to getting where I wanted to go with her. I had always drilled with Midori. With the exception of our end of the season break from mid-July to Labor day and holiday break from Thanksgiving to New Years and a hand full of skipped practices here and there, I've drilled Midori pretty darn faithfully every single Sunday for the whole 4 years that I've had her. I don't regret it. Not one bit. I think drill horses are amazing athletes and some of the most rock solid horses out there. But I am to a point where I want to really fine tune Midori and it needs consistent, dedicated work. I can't just forget it for practice every Sunday. I don't think that's fair. So I made a deal with myself that as soon as drill was over this season I would begin boot camp. And I did. I even enlisted some help and I'm pretty darn excited about it.
There is a trainer at the arena that we ride at. I finally got up the nerve to see if she could fit me in to her seemingly very hectic schedule. She found room for me and I had my first lesson in years last week. It was great! While I was a little disappointed that we ended up working on spinning and flying lead changes, I was still very pleased with the difference I could already see in Midori's responsiveness. I was amazed. It didn't seem like we had really done a whole lot, but I could definately feel progress was being made.
I feel like there are a lot of holes in our training, steps that we skipped, building blocks that we missed. I'm also aware that most of the "issues" we are having with progressing like I want to are just my lack of knowledge and experience. I've already gotten Midori further in her training then I thought I knew how to. I have to admit, I'm pretty darn proud of the little horse that I've made. Of course she's just a rock star in her own right, so I've had good help in the matter. But back to the holes....I wanted to kind of go back to the beginning and fill in those holes and gaps and work up from there, which is why I was disappointed that we ended up getting to work on flying lead changes on the first lesson. I did mention to the trainer that I'm doing the winter reining series, which starts in one month, so I'm sure she registered that and realized it's crunch time. Or maybe, and this is my reaching for the stars here, she just figured we are more ready for the big stuff then I feel like we are. I guess time will tell. Ultimately my goal is for my horse to be as close to a finished reiner as we can get with our limited resources, both financial and available local trainers (good trainers are hard to come by around here) and I'm just happy to have someone helping me learn how to reach that goal.
So for now I'm pleased with my new trainer. She is nice and seems to know what she's doing well enough. I'm happy to pick her brain for a while and it's way better then continuing to flail around on my own. I'm excited to see how we progress this winter! My next lesson is tomorrow and now that I've had over a week to digest the last one I've got all sorts of questions I want to ask and things I need to understand better. I'm excited. Progress is being made!