For starters, I took the plunge and we are officially registered for the Makeover. We will be competing in the Freestyle division. Our routine is still in the works, but our goal is to go with simplistic, clean, and fun. In the spirit of this, we have not only been working on maneuvers, but we have also done some events unrelated to our routine. The last two weeks we have been Team Sorting! Cooper has loved it, and it has been a great way to break up our weekly routine. The other great thing about working cattle, is that it gives purpose to a lot of the maneuvers we work on in the arena.
The other great thing about trying out ranch sorting, is that Cooper and I were able to find some like minded western riders in the heart of the Eventing Nation of Chester County Pennsylvania. It has been such a great opportunity to ride with them, and especially to be able to show them the versatility of OTTBs. In fact, most of the group was surprised to hear he was even an OTTB at all! That just goes to show the work we must continue to do to prove everyone wrong about these amazing horses. But for everything that has happened the last few weeks, I want to take a moment to talk about my ride yesterday with local trainer Larry Kuyper.
I met Larry through the team sorting events I have been attending with Cooper. We got to talking, and as I watched him ride and coach anyone and everyone who would listen I immediately took to him. Not just because of what I have had to overcome in the last year, but because I am a firm believer in continuing to better myself as a trainer. So, I got Larry’s contact information and asked him if he would be willing to let me ride with him a few times. I wanted to be able to pick his brain, and get real time feedback on some of the things I have been working on with Cooper.
We set up a time for me to go to his farm in Elkton, MD, and I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a training session as much as I did yesterday. As trainers, we spend so much time working with others so they fit their horses, or fixing horses to fit their riders, that we rarely get the chance to work on our own riding. Even still, it can be hard as a trainer to find someone who is on the same wavelength in methodology. In riding with Larry yesterday, I got a chance to ride with someone who has the feel and experience that I can only hope to have one day. He was able to find things for me to work on that I didn’t see, correct me in real time, and show me that it was ok to push past where I have been stuck to ask for more out of fear from what happened last year with Disco.
I spent the entire rest of the day with a smile on my face. I cannot wait to expand on the drills we worked on yesterday, and put together the fun and clean freestyle routine I know Cooper has in him.