I love trainers who tell it like it is and don't baby you, but when you get it right they know just what to say to make the whole struggle worth it. Robin Groves is one of those. No nonsense, no bullshit, no excuses, and a million funny phrases, every Robin clinic is fantastic.
I cleared my schedule.
Dancer and I had two rides schedules on the 13th, one in the AM with A. and De, and one in the afternoon over fences. I was supposed to ride a boarder's horse, too, a 17HH bay Thoroughbred named Guinness.
The first lesson was a solid reminder that there's more to ring work than going in circles; Robin broke out cones and had us walking, trotting, and cantering through them, all inside the dressage ring. Dancer loves cones at 1000 MPH, so a controlled canter wasn't really forthcoming, but we tried. Robin also reminded me how to warm up and bring the horse round correctly instead of asking for it right away, which really helped. Sometimes I'm quick to expect things and I don't take all the warm-up time and forget that Dancer is almost 22. By the end, Dancer was reaching down into the bit and we had a really pretty sitting trot going. Andrea had a good ride, too; Robin was obsessed with her leg and said "George Morris would be proud."
Guinness, the big doof, was awesome for me, but he always is. He's a nervous type if you don't reassure him that everything's good, so definitely not the horse to pick to be nervous about riding. Going from 14 hands to 17 is always a shock, but he tries so hard to be good, rounding down and using his creaky old butt. He's a lot of horse to take through zigzag cones, but when he's on, he's ON, and could almost make me want a Thoroughbred. (Minus the broken windedness.)
Jumping was INSANE STUPID AWESOME! A. let me use her close contact/forward flap/gorgeous saddle. It's really a friend's saddle, but she left it with A. to sell. Of course, Dancer loved it, because it's $800. And brown. She missed the memo on that one. Once I got my stirrups up high enough (children's webbers wrapped and on the top hole), we were in business. The canter was collected and beautiful, with only a few speedy bucks after jumps. Robin was laughing at her, and thinks she's actually a decent jumper. I don't have to work at distances with her. "She rolls along with her head down, looks up and says 'There it is,' and over she goes." Another rider in that lesson told me I was a really good rider, so that felt nice, too. :)
Of course, I found a way to ride on Sunday, too. I stayed over at the barn, wore my breeches to bed, and got up and rode the 9 AM lesson with three other riders. It was delicious.
That's what makes me want to work for a trainer for a summer (or a year). I want to ride a million times a day and just learn 24/7 on different horses. Maybe, just maybe, I can do it this year.