It's not as if Taco needed extensive training-- we had, after all, pulled down some nice scores at last year's events. I just wanted her to evaluate him, keep him in work, and be better able to help me in lessons. But it really seems to have brought us to a new level.
What happened was this: after two rides, Amy texted me. "You can get so much more from him than you're getting!!" she said, and then, when I got back home after Thanksgiving, she showed me what she meant. Wow! Taco looked amazing. He floated around looking like the fancy dressage horse he is. The next time, I got on. I was having some fear issues, I will admit. I hadn't been on him for two weeks, it was windy (I HATE wind), and there was lots of activity at the farm that day, including Tidbit the miniature horse stallion (since gelded) running along the fenceline.
Oooh, scary Tidbit (scary to me, at least!)
I struggled along trying to do the suppling exercise that Amy had found useful on him. Then she made me get off and showed me what she wanted. Then I got back on... and I got it! I sat up tall and pushed him out in front of me. Amy suggested I try a lengthening and Boom, Boom, Boom!! I found myself riding the biggest trot I have ever sat on! Woo hoo! Taco had another gear that I just didn't know existed.
At the end of the four weeks I got the ride back and kept practicing my newfound dressage skills. Things were going very well until The Cold Snap of 2010. Nashville is in the South, and most people do not have indoor arenas. Winters are mild and we do sometimes lose a few days to wet footing but those days are not too frequent. Unfortunately, this year we tied a record of the longest period of sub-freezing temperatures-- two weeks-- set in 1942. Great. The footing was frozen solid.
Then we had a gorgeous weather week. We got back to where we had been in the dressage. We also had a fabulous jump lesson in which I thought we were at least as good as we were last season, if not better! And then the rains came. It rained for about a week. A few times, I hacked around the farm to warm up, then rode in Amy's all-weather round pen, which had the driest footing on the property, and then cooled down hacking around the farm again. To break things up, I lunged in the round pen too. Not so bad.
Finally, this week things have started to dry out. I escaped from work early yesterday so that I could have a lesson. I brought Taco in and began to remove his mud mask (a favorite beauty tratment that he uses often). And then I saw it. The outside branch of his right front shoe was bent. Aaaaargh!!! Amy took the shoe off and I spent the day fussing over his grooming.
Todd, our farrier, was kind enough to come by this morning and put the shoe back on, but I generally cannot ride on Tuesdays and Thursdays because they are my teaching days. Even if I had left work early, I had to go to the dentist immediately after work. So there Taco was, ready to go, and the footing was good, and I am sitting in the dentist chair getting worked on with that awful drill.
There is a winter storm forecast for tomorrow, and temperatures will not return to the 40s until Monday.
Winter = patience.