Tarma and I had a solid weekend together, each day with a different flavor. On Saturday my best friends and I stopped by the barn, just to feed and do her feet (clean out and spray with Listerine, helps keep thrush at bay). Tarma loves to roll in the arena, so we hung out when she did that and then she came over and was part of our circle while we chatted and caught up. She stood freely when one of my friends showed me how to do a running braid (I’ve never braided a thing in my life, not even my own hair). It was calm and lovely and a balm after a stressful week.
Today we loaded up (still a bit stressed but willing), and hauled out to a local farm with a Mountain Trail course for a lesson with a new trainer (who was nice enough to let Kade tag along and be my photographer and helper!) I realized it’s hard for me to take a compliment without trying to explain some background or choice or point out what I could do better, but it was lovely to hear my mare called pretty and smart and careful, and myself a “responsive student.” It was a sterling ground lesson, we started in the arena just chatting and figuring out where we’re at together.
My main struggle continues to be the pull between “get out and discover the trails together” and “do it safely in a mutually happy relationship.” Today we just breathed and did things very deliberately and on Tarma’s time. We presented obstacles and situations to her when she was ready and it was her choice to do something, like walk over the board or between the wall and a barrel. I really worked hard to figure out what her signals meant and giving her lots of time to pause and absorb things.
We were able to finish outside, with a few trips across the raised bridge and then Tarma’s strong spot: the water. Most horses have trouble, but possibly thanks to her feral early years she’s not shy about stepping right into the water…then pausing and drinking her fill. A few trips through the pond (luckily my feet stayed dry and warm in my Dublin boots!) and we called it a good day.
I’m returning to that farm next weekend for a second clinic with Clay Wright, who really helped Flash and I so I’m excited to see what he makes of Tarma and I. I’m planning to go early and audit other lessons and see what gems I can pick up. It’s a bit of a weird haul to this farm, it’s at the top of a small mountain on slow, narrow, tight roads but I’m happy as always with how my truck handled it.