Posted by: bizzylizzy262 | October 31, 2014

Goldilocks and the 4 Trainers

Oh, hey!! Pretty sad that the last time I updated was summer break, and today was the first snow of the year. But I guess it’s not as bad as it sounds, seeing as it is October!!

Time for a whirlwind update. I think rather than backtrack to the last time I updated, I’ll just update on where we are at now. Y’all can fill in the blanks for yourselves!

One of the biggest happenings with Cloud lately has been weight. Since our spring vet report, I have been trying to put weight back on Cloud. It has been tricky with him being pasture boarded. Cloud doesn’t quite fit the typical mold of a pasture boarded horse. Apparently the pasture board stereotype is an easy keeper. So through my frustrations of Cloud’s weight I have been on the verge of putting him back in a stall, which would allow me to feed him the hay that would best meet his needs. But so far I just haven’t gone there….I am way way too thrilled with what pasture board has done for his joints. Plus he really seems happy as a pasture horse. He has adjusted so well and his demeanor seems very chill and relaxed. Another benefit is that I’ve noticed a pretty significant decrease in cuts and injuries. Cloud tends to hurt himself in a stall! So I’ve been doing the best I can to feed him what he needs without putting him back into a stall…which has meant another grain change, adding hay cubes to his diet, and 3 times a day feedings (I help). Right now I am very happy with his weight, but am not ready to tone things down with winter right around the corner.

The other big news is that Cloud and I have found yet another dressage trainer! For those keeping track, this is our 4th dressage trainer since making the switch to dressage in 2008. When we moved to Prairie Oaks, my plan was to go at it on my own for a while. Tracey had really really helped us and set me up for some success on my own. There is a trainer, Deb Sedlacek, who frequents Prairie Oaks, and so I have run into her quite a bit at the barn. My first impressions of her were that she was a very very kind woman, and a really great trainer. Her students have nothing but great things to say about her methods. I was really blown away by how friendly she was to me and Cloud, even though we were not her students. She always talked to me and saved a mint for Cloud, without any pressure to take lessons from her. I don’t know, I was just surprised by that.

Anyways, I watched her give quite a few lessons and started to get an itch to try her out. Cloud’s weight was going good, but my riding schedule was off since school had started and I felt like lessons would get me back motivated in the saddle. I kind of got into a routine of coming out to the barn and just being with Cloud rather than riding. I spent a lot of time grazing him, brushing him, and feeding him, but was lacking in saddle time.

Finally told myself to stop making excuses and set up 2 lessons with Deb last week. I was pretty blown away from the get-go. It is hard as I have had so many dressage trainers to not look back and reflect on the positives and negatives of each, and compare the good/bad/ugly. I definitely look back on my first trainer with some resentment. She was a very qualified rider, but somehow she turned Cloud and I into a hot mess. I think I’m pretty lucky that I stuck with dressage after her. I look back on my time with her and feel very sorry for trusting her with Cloud and I, and listening to her. Poor Cloud didn’t deserve her methods. My second trainer was nice and tried her best, but I don’t think she knew how to undo the tension that had erupted between Cloud and I from the first trainer. It just made me frustrated. I look back on my time with her and feel sorry for her for having to try to correct the problems that the first trainer had created. Under her supervision, I started to realize that something major had to change to restore my relationship with Cloud and restore his confidence and trust in me.

That was a big turning point for Cloud and I. I knew that he still loved me, but our relationship under saddle was strained. I made some major major changes in my mentality towards Cloud. The result was going back to Parelli and natural horsemanship, rebuilding our relationship on the ground, giving him a break in the saddle, and moving him to a luxurious barn which allowed him to be a horse again outside and to be happy and healthy. I look back on our move to Cliffwood Farm and our switch to being Parelli-focus with relief and pride. It was exactly what he and I needed at the time. I had broken a lot of trust with Cloud, asking him to do too much and not giving him clear instructions. I was trying to learn dressage, but not from the right trainer, and the result was tension, both physical and emotional. Changing my methods and focus and changing his environment was a big deal, and I saw instant results. Cloud and I have always had a good connection with each other, and I saw that connection be restored as we moved to Cliffwood and changed my mindset. I felt relief at that time in our lives.

At Cliffwood we met Tracey, and I owe her a TON. She came in just at the right time, with a training style focused on rider biomechanics. She seemed to know just what was wrong with Cloud and I under saddle, and how to fix it. Tracey undid the years of ‘bad riding’ that I had put Cloud through. She taught me to relax my body and take tension out of the equation, which built Cloud’s confidence in me. We started to do amazing things. It was like the slate had been wiped clean.

Tracey taught me a few basic rules which really stuck and really helped my riding relationship with Cloud. But when I left Cliffwood, I decided to do things on my own with what I had learned from Tracey. I appreciate the time that Cloud and I have had, using what Tracey taught us, to restore his faith and confidence in me as a rider. I think what made me lose a little motivation/interest in riding as of late, however, was boredom…I accomplished what I needed to accomplish with Cloud in regards to trust and riding tension-free, but am now ready to do more with him. Tracey would have helped us to do more, once we got past our problems, but now at the new barn I saw Deb training and am ready to give her a try.

Our first few lessons have been great. I feel like Deb is the perfect trainer to pick up where Tracey left off. So far, I can tell that I understand her instructions and methods much better than any of the other 3 trainers. She has a very understandable teaching approach. She makes things make sense in my mind.

I will post more on her lessons as they get more underway, I don’t want to jump the gun and assume she is going to be my best trainer so far, just after a few lessons. But I’d like to think that I have learned enough from my dressage trainer past to only get better and better instead of going backwards. The most important thing is that I trust Deb to keep Cloud and I moving forward without tension and without sacrificing the trust he has for me!

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