A Recent Royal Season

When AJ had managed a staff of 32, she had been required to submit quarterly reviews, summarizing all the day to day feedback she’d given to the employees. She got so good at it, they used to send extra “problem” employees into her department so that she could sincerely try to coach them to better performance, while accurately documenting all employee issues in compliance with HR law in case they had to be terminated. Jill wanted to know if that’s why she was calling herself a “trainer” on the resume she’d drafted for a potential employer, lol. She was suggesting an edit because the horse lady owns and rides the 20 horses and only wanted an exercise rider... "Obviously, she is the trainer."

AJ laughed that it was true she hadn’t really trained Jill’s horse much in her absence. “I am pretty sure a photo your mom could have taken from that arial view of that “campfire,” in the middle of all of the trotting poles laid out, would have been perfectly at C, dead centre in the middle of the arena. Her in-person-horse-buddy, Jill's mom, had said she arrived in the lounge just in time to notice the steaming manure mountain in the cold area.

What was really nice to see was the big bright glossy picture of a top horsewoman, in action, posted on the bulletin board on the way in. A handwritten caption had been added on a big yellow post it note. “Beezie Madden even grabs a bit of mane to save her horse’s mouth.”

For the second time this week, AJ felt blessed by how the poles were all laid out in the riding ring in a perfect schooling formation. In a big, complex arrangement she wanted to have, but didn’t want to double check measurements for, or set up herself BEFORE the exercise of riding. Those poles can be heavy! Her specialty was riding the bounce bounce spook spook boing bounce of them, not the dragging them around, ha. She was excited for access to an exercise to cultivate balance, focus, suppleness, elasticity… she knew it would also support coordination, including hand/eye, in both horse and rider. But was she surprised to find as she worked over them, that it was also helping them with straightness. Their number one priority!! There were at least 4 lines of 3 poles, plus 4 lines of 2 poles, each with their perfect spacing. And yet, you could make perfect centre lines, both short and long, as you rode figure after figure over and around them.

After the 30 minute workout, that actually loosened up her back very nicely as well, she raved some more “Besides, if you were trying to set that up for yourself as a boarder, you would have to put it all away at the end as well. So as not to leave the ring a mess for any upcoming lessons, so it would be twice as much work. AJ had invented a new exercise to try by the end, which was trotting between two poles in a line, a STRAIGHT line, right in the middle, on the same angle. “They keep him straight — plus, he’s afraid of them. Probably always will be” her companion obviously wasn’t as optimistic as AJ was about the activities. AJ was grateful also, to notice that while the formation was the same two rides in a row, the poles themselves were different colours. Such a subtle new challenge and pleasure!

Jill agreed that when working over ground poles horses use their backs more correctly, and use greater flexibility to bend in their joints. Was AJ’s encouraging him to stretch his neck long and low over them working? Yes, and, yes, was extraordinarily careful not to catch him in the mouth. She loved how the work was getting the horse to begin balancing himself and using his hind quarters more, instead of reliance on his head and neck for balance. What would a pattern/layout course look like to use to begin to learn how to shorten and lengthen stride in different gaits?

AJ was encouraging Jill to start a band now that she was in university. “Is this because you always wished you started a band in high school?”

They lamented that a friend of theirs had made an appearance on DNTO’s program about the Royal Winter Fair that weekend, appearing on CBC before ever guesting on hoofbeats!  And it was a bummer that neither of them had had a chance to attend the festivities this year.

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