The Ups, Downs, and Sideways . . .

Southern Pines Horse Trials were last weekend and little Mr. Otie made his big debut! He was wide eyed and full of questions:
“Mom, mom, mom? Mommy, mom. Momma. Maaaaa?!?” 
Yes, Otie?
“What’s a Start.Box?”
He was very brave and went around his first cross country course like a little boy in the circus funhouse – a little afraid but having too much fun to stop. His confidence grew by gallons and the next day he marched into stadium like he was president of his own fan club.
I’ll tell you, they can come out of the womb with fancy gaits, chrome to spare, and a natural jump with legs tucked up to their chin, but a good brain is the best DNA a horse can have.  There were six (6!) dressage rings going and we were in the one closest to stadium. He had to get through his first big show with as many distractions a horse can have and the jump buzzer scaring the bejeezus out of him every 90 seconds.
We didn’t get any style points for our cross country, and we certainly weren’t in danger of taking home a ribbon from his first event, but it was still as sweet a victory as they come.
Meanwhile . . .
Coby was a bit of a different story. He was wonderful in dressage  and stadium:
But XC? Boy oh boy, if I didn’t laugh I’d have to go kick a puppy (not really, I would never kick a puppy. A cat? Maybe. But a puppy? Never.)
I’m used to him pulling me around course.  I’m used to him taking off with me from time to time. I’ve even grown accustomed to the blur of warp speed and ending up in a different time zone then where I started.
But when the startbox countdown looks like the space shuttle launch and the ensuing dash-for-cash feels as if he’s running  from something instead of towards something?
Not fun. Not fun at all.
People that know Coby from his Advanced days know that he always has been and always will be a bit of a bad boy (as honest to the fences as they come, but let’s face it, he’s a bit of a bad boy).  My gut tells me that perhaps the physicality of cross country might be getting to be too much on his 17 year old body and this new franticness is his way of telling us.
So, we are taking a step back from the banks and logs and tables and focusing on stadium and dressage while we figure it out together. He has given too much to the sport for too long to not have his voice heard.
We, the collective “we”, have gotten very good at telling our horses what we want: Supple. Bend. Jump. Turn. Stop. Go. Load. Be. 
Always striving to be clear and fair in our direction, but always telling. 
Sometimes it’s just time to listen.
Listen I will.

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