Milton has been happening all over the county.
Stepping Stone Farm remains his happy place. After our inaugural jump [Riding Recap], we went back a few days later. We jumped repeatedly! A whole 3 or 4 times! My ground crew reminded me of the words of a previous instructor, ‘You need to go 55, not 35.’ As in, mph. As in, get a move on. So there we were, trotting ’round the round pen. It occured to me that Milton had no idea how to do this. That means I needed to be the adult in the room. Oh sh*t. I put on some leg. We shifted all the way up to a moderate trot. He hopped a cute little jump and cantered quietly away for one or two strides.
Such a good horse!
Milton has added a new happy place. Fortunately, he is capable of having more than one. After three visits by the people and two visits by the horse, I think I am justified in saying that we are now taking (proto) jumping lessons with Molly McCown of Falcon Hill Farm.
After chatting with Miss Molly [A Small Jump], we brought Milton over. He came off the trailer lit. His attitude was reminiscent of the semi-disastrous dressage lesson – only semi, because we all walked away from the landing [Missing Lesson]. Not as bad this time, but more hysteria than I care to see in a horse I am about to get on. He lunged. He calmed. This reminded me of Northeast Georgia, where the familiar routine settled him [Notes].
We came back to the trailer to switch tack. I did NOT want to get on this horse. If I wasn’t in tears, it was on a technicality. However, if I stopped every time I didn’t want to do something, I would never get anywhere. I promised myself that all I had to do was get on, maybe walk a few steps. I did. He was chill enough for us to continue. I chilled eventually.
Milton and I did a bunch of walking and some trotting while Miss Molly watched. It was more of a supervised schooling session than a proper lesson. Afterwards, we stood around discussing life. Milton hung with us, relaxing and having the occasional yawn.
Shipped in. Lunged. Changed tack. Presented self for first official (proto) jump lesson in I-don’t-want-think-about-the-number years.
We trotted. We trotted the other way. We cantered. We cantered several laps. We went the other way. More laps. I was amazed and ready to declare victory. Miss Molly set up two poles ion the ground some distance apart. She wanted us to canter over them. Do what?! I don’t think the nice lady in the middle of the ring realized how little cantering Milton and I had done.
We cantered back and forth over the poles, working on getting a short 4 or a long 3 strides. Well, that was the plan. I worked on staying straight and keeping Milton cantering. Milton worked on figuring out how to deal with objects underfoot. Striding was a distant afterthought.
Riding at home is still a work in progress. I wanted to start getting acclimated. Groundcrew reminded me that Milton and I had walked and trotted over the summer while practicing our dressage tests. I had totally forgotten.
Yes, it’s partly me. I get anxious and anticipate problems. In my defense, Milton has given me cause. The meltdowns at Northeast Georgia and the dressage lesson, above, come to mind, both of which had nothing to do with me. Even at SSF, he is sensitive to what ring he is in. He prefers the covered to the big ring and the big ring to the outdoors. Fortunately, he seems to like the FHF ring. And he seems to be agreeable about shipping to his various appointments.
Thank you for reading,