Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Grace Travels for Teaching

This weekend Grace had a big trip from Bit of Honey Training in Fort Collins, to Coal Creek Stables in Aurora, to her overnight stay in Parker, Colorado.  I was teaching at a client's barn for the day Saturday, and it was the perfect opportunity to bring Grace and let her see what a clinic situation is like.  I'm planning to ride her while I'm teaching my jumping clinic at the horse expo in just over a week, so this was a good rehearsal for her.  We arrived at the barn late in the morning and unloaded, groomed, tacked up, and perused the indoor arena while we waited to meet our first riding lesson of the day.
Collecting folding chairs for the auditor area for the riding lessons

Grooming at the trailer

Tacking at the trailer
 Once we were in the arena we spent a little time hand walking around so Grace could get a good look at everything.  When she was fine with all the new stuff I lunged her for just a couple minutes to increase the distance between us and make sure she still felt confident.

Then I mounted and we started teaching!  All of Grace's previous rides have been just me and her, and my attention has been solely on her.  Saturday was a different indoor arena with unfamiliar horses and to add to the circumstances, I was talking not just to Grace, but to several other people and horses as well.  When we first started riding around with my first lesson, Grace did pause a couple times and look at me saying, "what do you mean, wiggle your toes and relax your elbows?!"  I explained to her that she had an easy day today, I was just going to ride her while I talked to the others, and that she was doing a good job.  She relaxed and then marched along like a champ.  If I got distracted and stopped directing her in my efforts to explain something to my student, Grace would head to the poles in the arena and go over them.  When in doubt, go over an obstacle, because that's usually the right thing to do.  When she realized I didn't actually even need her to keep walking, she was content to stand quietly while I taught from her back.

Tack check for safety before mounting

A little blurry, but you get a good idea of her marching capabilities.

We had one exciting moment when another horse in the arena unexpectedly spooked as his rider removed her vest.  The horse leaped sideways towards Grace and spun around to stare at the vest on the ground.  Grace, like the solid citizen she is, just stopped and watched him while I talked the rider through the situation.  To get the gelding comfortable with the vest as it lay on the ground in a heap, Grace followed my direction and walked steadily in a circle around the vest, getting closer and closer with each circle a little smaller than the last, and the gelding who had spooked followed her and did just as Grace did.  Eventually we were standing in the middle with the vest on the ground, no worries at all.  Grace set a fabulous example.  I had my ground assistant come pick up the vest and walk towards Grace with it, and she was totally unfazed.  I took the vest from my assistant, draped it over Grace's withers, and patted her with the ends.  Then we gave the vest back to my assistant, who walked away from us, and Grace followed her and the vest to the edge of the arena.

Grace and I did a small amount of trotting, and then I hopped off to give her a break and so I could teach from the ground.  

Assessing rider symmetry from behind

 Grace was patient and easy, I passed her off to my assistant and continued lessons.
The happy artist sketching the events of the day
Observing a new horse and rider pair

Explaining the "why" behind an exercise

Listening to client questions

Discussing moving the rider's leg back so the body is in a plumb line to make the rider more stable and secure.
 After we were done teaching our lessons for the day, Grace loaded back up in the trailer to go spend the night at our friend's place in Parker. 
Arriving at Motel Marion

Putting the horses away for the evening

Beautiful barn in which Grace spent the night

The stable's pony hamming it up for attention in the barn aisle

A shot of my boot socks

Saying goodbye to Gracie the next morning

Heading home

I'm awfully proud of Grace.  She was a brave, quiet, well behaved mare this weekend, and made quite a splash at the indoor arena, with several people saying that they would love to have a horse like her, solid, dependable, and good looking.  I think she's going to have quite a fan club at the horse expo, only a week and a half away now.

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