The first thing I was proud of today was how well Toad and I did in our ride/lesson today. I was pretty worried about our ride because after Sunny took down the gate at the end of the arena all that is there now is a board at about my chest level. Which leaves lots of room for the barn dogs to come tearing into the arena when they're playing (which luckily they did not do today). Plus, Toad had not seen the change in gate-idge so I was worried about her being spooky. All in all I was being a Thoroughbred myself.
Trainer K. did her usual training routine (which lately has been focused a lot on Toad softening her jaw which she is resisting) then it was my turn to ride. I heard Trainer K. say to Toad as she was dismounting, "Ok, now it's your mom's turn to ride," and my stomach just got all tied up in knots. I don't know why because our last ride a few days ago was fine. I think it's just my weird head after not riding her for 5 weeks after falling off. So, I put in the trusting security-blanket eventing vest just in case she spooked and I fell off again and hopped on up. As soon as I was up on her my first thought was, "I'm freaking out. How do I get out of this without admitting I've psyched myself up and I'm freaking out?" But as soon as I thought that I realized that if I got off her before my lesson was over then it would be a hundred times harder to get back on her.
So, I decided to focus on the stuff I learned last week in Beth Glosten's clinic and Trainer K. told me about "bracing my shoulder blades down" (I think that's how she phrased it - I can do the movement I just can't remember the exact phrasing). Anyway, I did that and was very cognisant of being centered in the saddle as opposed to my tendency to slide to the right and Toad responded very well. Oh yeah, and the other thing was to keep a forward center of gravity instead of my tendency (based solely on fear) to lean back whenever she starts moving. She responded really well to these small changes and was very good! We actually started out with a nice energetic walk as opposed to her usual plodding and oozing into a stop and then just standing there stubbornly. It took me a couple tries to get her trotting more than a few steps and she wasn't completely responding to my leg so I had to employ the dressage whip a couple times with some little added taps, but then she responded really well.
We got a really nice trot going and I felt really in-tune with her and like we were doing a perfect dance where we were both completely in-step! Then our farrier - who had just finished up with another client at the barn - popped his head over one of the arena gates to see how we were doing. I was sure Toad was going to freak over having someone pop up there but she barely broke a stride. She shied a little away from the gate as we passed it the first time but it was very subtle and it didn't happen when we passed it again, nor did it happen from the other direction.
From what I understand our farrier worked on her once when the teenager before me had her and back then the teenager couldn't control her at all so Trainer K. had to hold her for the vet and farrier. But even with Trainer K. holding her (and keep in mind that was all Trainer K. was allowed to do - even though she offered to help the teenager, she (the teenager) fancied herself a savant who needed no education to handle her horses ... and she doesn't - she is the expert at screwing up horses and making them supremely dangerous). Anyway, from what I understand the farrier worked on her once or maybe twice when the teenager had her and was none too happy about what a dangerous horse she was. He's praised Trainer K. and me plenty since I've had her because she's been very good for him whenever he does her feet. And I always hold her because I don't want to be reliant on someone else to have to handle my horse - and I'm nowhere near as experienced as Trainer K. so he's commented on how impressed he is that she has calmed down so much. So it felt really good when he stood there at the gate and said how great we both looked and how we looked like we were ready to be in an actual show. It wasn't so much the words he said as the tone in his voice of amazement at the good horse that Toad is turning out to be! When I finished my ride and hopped down Trainer K. was beaming and said, "That was fabulous ride!" and actually gave me a high-five! Eleven months of working with her and I actually did so well I got a high-five! Very cool! Toad actually went on the bit and relaxed and stretched her neck down and was using her core and very rounded. I think it's finally starting to click for both me and her and the result is just great!
Another thing I'm proud of is that my daughter got her ears pierced a few weeks ago and I have not even once had to wash them for her. She has a chart she keeps in the bathroom and marks off every time she cleans them - which is ideally three times a day for six weeks. She doesn't always make it three times a day anymore but she definitely does two. And I'm happy to say that about three weeks in and her ears are healing up very nicely. I realized this evening that is all her doing since I have not once had to do it for her.
And I have the best pitbull in the world. Once again, while waiting for my daughter's camp to end I took the pitbull to the off-leash area at Medina Park for a bit. She was being a very good girl, although she was trying to steal some poor lab's tennis ball. The lab's owner asked me what kind of dog she was and when I told her pitbull she asked if I ever ran into any problems with people pre-judging her. I said I did and it was irritating but it was still worth it to have such a good dog. And it was nice that Willow was showing her true, gentle colors. The lab's owner said Willow had a "sweet baby face". It's always nice to meet people who see Willow for who she is - not just their preconceived notion of a "monster" like they think pitbulls are.
My weird story of the day - which I had to text to my neighbor who can't stand this guy either - is this: There is a very sketchy ice cream man who comes to our neighborhood frequently in summer and the kids are no longer allowed to buy ice cream from him because he drives a big van as opposed to an ice cream truck, and he told my neighbor once that he "sells a lot more than ice cream" and whipped out some ipods and cell phones that were dubious in their origin (ie: it's not like he had one of those "certified Apple retailers" signs going on). So this afternoon I'm waiting to cross the street to go to the park and I see him driving down the street and think, "Good god! What is crack-dealer ice cream guy doing her?" then he slows down and rolls down his window and I think "Good god, why does crack-dealer ice cream guy want to talk to me? Crap!" He stops in front of me and asked, "Where is Bill Gate's house?" to which I guess I couldn't believe he really asked that so I said, "What?" and he asked again, "Where is Bill Gates house?" and I couldn't help it, I looked at him like he was insane (because at that moment I thought he was) and said, "I have no idea. And if I did why would I tell you?" and he drove off. Now the kids are REALLY not buying ice cream from him. I couldn't help but wonder if he's just a weird stalker-type fan of Bill Gates or if he had some other sort of nefarious plot going on. I'm awfully glad I'm not famous. How horrible that would be.