Time to share with the world what I've been learning:
-deadlines are good for me. Unrealistic deadlines are just stressful, but a reachable one motivates me.
-Bo is an old horse. He's 19. He needs regular work to stay in shape. He's been at the Little Valley for a year; the year before that was spent being a lawnmower. He's so much more flexible and fit now!
-he's generally grumpy and it's not an old age thing. His owner says he's always been like that, since she got him at age eight. We put up with it because he's so great under saddle.
-if I get out the little rubber "Jelly" brush and rub down his forehead and ears, and his legs, I can darn near put him into a contented sleep! Nice.
-gonna miss him when his owner is done school and takes him home in September.
-he's in better shape than I am; my legs are a little sore!
-my neck is stiff too and I believe it's because I've been tensing up when riding the two-track. (I'll describe that later.) I know I need to relax into it.
-if my spurs ride up on my heels I know I've been using my feet incorrectly. I need to stretch that heel down to cue him. This should keep my knees on him too.
-gloves are good when riding with a lot of contact on the reins.
-I'm still having a hard time riding with contact... growing up being yelled at to ease up on the reins so the pony will go forward has stayed in my head. "Don't hang on with the reins, or she'll stop!!" Of course they weren't really reins, they were twine string, but still.
-he needs contact to collect up and do that two-track.
-as of today the riding test is a week away. I'll be ready.
-I can't wait to get my own two horses up to this level of training!
And most of all, I had this amazing revelation yesterday. I mean, at first I couldn't believe it, but it has to be true. I never let myself think it, I always chose to look at the stuff that needed improving rather than the abilities that I do have, but I must let myself believe it.
Despite a crooked spine, gut-compromising medications, ADD, depression, anxiety, a house full of kid-mess and pet-mess, and surviving on one income, I AM ACCOMPLISHING THIS GOAL.
And furthermore, what I really have to let myself believe...
I'M ACTUALLY A PRETTY DECENT RIDER.
We're taking the horses down the road today to a neighbour's indoor arena. It's big enough that I can do the entire pattern with that big lanky horse and not have to compress it to fit the small sand ring at the Little Valley. It takes a bit more room to move Bo around. Plus it's dry in there. I'm still bringing my rain coat.