Last Saturday I decided to try the Chris Lombard Horsemanship versatility clinic again. The first time was in February with Navajo, the steady horse that I rode last summer, and that turned out to be quite an experience. Navajo let me know in no uncertain terms that versatility clinics were not her cup of tea and she would have none of it. Watching my normally “don’t care” horse have a mental breakdown and rear up multiple times when being asked to accomplish a task was an eye opener.
So I pulled on my courage cloak and decided to try again, this time with Jake. I will just mention that if you’re a horse person reading this, and ever get to do a clinic with Chris, do it. He’s an amazing horseman, and his compassion for horses and people, as well as his insight into horse/human relationships, is something to behold in person. I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to benefit from his experience.
We started out reviewing the course without the horses. It is a bit of sensory overload. All I could think to myself was that if I got through a couple of obstacles with Jake I would be happy. If he was calm I would be happy. If he kept all four feet on the ground when he was supposed to I would be happy.
He exceeded my expectations. We practiced the course together with halter and lead rope then from the saddle, and attempted every obstacle. We still have plenty to work on – we need more communication with side passing, and he refused to go near the gate or the water hazard. To go through all the rest of the obstacles together when we’ve only been working together for three weeks just astounded me.
So then after lunch we get to the individual timed runs. I knew Jake would be a bit upset going into the arena without his buddies, which he was, but once I got on he settled right down and we focused on the course. We worked the course together and then got to the little kiddie pool that he was supposed to walk through. After dancing around the pool for a good fifty seconds, as timed neared for the obstacle he decided to jump. Without warning. And not just a little jump – he soared over the pool and even tucked his back legs up to clear it. We landed before I even realized we had been in the air, and then…I rolled off him. Yep, there I was on the ground, and I rolled right back up. I was fine.
It was an ah ha moment for me. I could fall and be completely fine. Not every fall had to end like the one I had back in November where I was carted off via ambulance. And even more amazing was that while everyone was checking on me to make sure I was ok, Jake wouldn’t leave my side. No one was holding onto him. After wanting to get back to his buddies so badly, for him to stand quietly and let me know that he wanted to be with me was an awe inspiring moment. Even better, I mounted again and we finished the course! I was a little shaky, but Jake took everything in stride and we did some of our best work then.
It’s hard to fall at any time. This time though felt like a reset for me. It told me that everything will be ok, and that there is a horse out there that wants to be a partner and remain by my side. I couldn’t be more content with how everything turned out.