Yesterday was the last day in my "30 in 30" program. The original goal was to spend at least ten minutes doing something positive an progressive with my horse for thirty days in a row. Out of those thirty days, I can only count two days where I didn't really spend ten minutes with Cricket. On those two days, I did little more than feed her but I did take some time to pet her, talk to her and tell her how much I loved her.
In starting this program, I had no real idea what would happen. Having never applied my horsemanship consistently I just couldn't imagine what was possible. My hope was that my riding would improve so that by my Spring camp, I would be comfortable cantering on a casual rein.
Before I started this program I was rather unconfident in my ability to progress under saddle with Cricket. We had come so far with our walk and trot but I just felt it was beyond me to "teach" her to canter freestyle. I felt I lacked the skill and leadership to communicate canter and not just go faster. Our groundwork was very stagnant because I couldn't find the way to ask more without getting frustrated and upset, not so much at Cricket but at myself.
In thirty days, I accomplished more than I could ever have imagined. I feel completely at ease walking and trotting with the Carrot Stick. I am growing in my confidence with cantering, more so on the right lead than the left. I can canter totally freestyle to the right and the left is beginning to feel more comfortable and less discombobulating. While our on-line has not gone as far as I would like, I began to see how the Patterns will help push the boundaries and minimize frustration. Our "open area liberty" has gone from Cricket bolting out of left-brain unconfidence to her offering to canter circles around me. We completed our first competitive trail ride - a major accomplishment for both of us. I feel like my horsemanship is being stretched on finer points and not basic skills.
I have a whole new list of goals for my mare and me. I want to improve our communication at the trot. I want to increase my comfort and confidence at the canter. I want to take my on-line skills out of basic L3 and move them towards L4. I want to trail ride over more difficult terrain.
Next Monday I'm going to start another thirty day program with her. I think my focus is going to be Progressing with the Patterns. I'm not sure how I'm going to structure it. The days are getting colder and the sun sets so early. I want to continue my progress. I have my eyes on a prize and for the first time in a very long time, I feel like we can do it.