Driving Ups & Downs

View From The Back Seat


After successful lessons with the new cart [1,2], we hitched by ourselves. Yay.

Next lesson, Milton started hopping as soon as he was asked to move off. Been a while. Caught us by surprise. Boo.

The fit lasted only a few moments, the distance from quarterline to quarterline. Out of habit, I headed him with a leadrope. I was able to wrestle him to a stop, just before we crashed into the only obstacle in the ring. After half a lap of accompanied walking, he decided to fly right and was fine for the rest of the lesson. Yay.

Canceled plans to go off and school on our own. Boo.

Next lesson, a little side-eye at the start, then a fantastic lesson. Yay.

This is the second time Milton has pitched a fit a few days after a jumping lesson [Extremes]. He loves the ring at Falcon Hill Farm. He goes well in it. However, he may work harder than everyone – including Milton – realizes. This may leave him with lingering, post-gym muscle aches. He’s not the type to loosen up on his own. I’ll just stand here and rust, thank you very much.

We are learning that Milton folds at the first sign of adversity. If he thinks he is capable of what you are asking, he is a happy, willing horse. If he is overwhelmed – even the slightest bit – in mind or body, he is utterly convinced that he can’t do the thing. We posit his defeatist attitude is a remnant of his lack of success on the track.

Amidst all of this, we went up to volunteer for a MTCC schooling day. My driver was stoked. I could see he wanted to be out in the field running around the obstacles. I was less enthused. Much like Chatt Hills [Jumps], all I could see was gap between where we were and where we wanted to be. What can I say, I’m a dewy-eyed optimist.

Even when Milton is going well to cart, it’s hard – for me – to rest easy. He was going well before our driving debut last year. We’re still twitchy from that. We have learned that driving a horse is really easy, right up until it’s not. Things can go wahoonie-shaped in a hurry.

Three milestones to achieve before any al fresco driving competitions:

1) Driving competition(s) in a ring. No idea how to do this.

2) Riding competition(s) in the open. Gulp.

3) Practice staying overnight away from home. Not sure how much this contributed to his moods in Tennessee & the non-competes [not back, GA1, GA2]

All of these have subtasks, such as seeing other horses hitched to carts, riding in a class with more than one other person, schooling in the open, driving in the ring with other carts, hitching outside the ring, surviving warm-up with a cart and so on, added to the skills mention previously [The Next Rungs On Milton’s Ladder Of Success].

Well, if Milton is not our CDE horse, if he never leaves the ring at SSF, he has taught us huge amounts about driving. Good on him.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

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