Clinic Report: The Other Stuff

Earlier this week I talked about everything I learned from Richard. While having a professional long line my horse was more than worth the trip and the money, this clinic was actually doing triple duty. It was my first time hauling Spicy in the new trailer and his first off the property trip since March.

I had picked this specific clinic for a few reasons that had nothing to do with long lining. The host is our dressage trainer CC, who's known Spicy and I for over a year. It's at her farm which is small and quiet, and she's very familiar with the clinician. This combination of things made me feel super comfortable in bringing Spicy. When I expressed interest in coming, she offered me the first slot of the day. All the better because no one else was there yet!

This was Spicy's first time hauling while on the U7, and I also tried a tube of Quietex II before we left. He's horrible for tubes of paste - he will eat omeprazole off his grain before he willingly swallows a tube shoved down his throat - so I think I may need to play with the administration method for our calming supplement of choice. He was deeply offended I shoved the syringe in his mouth and sat there with jowls full of paste, pouting at me.

After about five minutes he started losing hold of his pout and syrupy supplement slime started dripping out of his mouth. It was so gross and I have so little tolerance for mucus that he was giving me the gags. He's such an ass we can't go anywhere.

Despite all that, he walked right on the trailer.My barn owner hauls a lot more than I do, and she's familiar with the route down to CC's. Since she wanted to audit, I had her along with me which was a huge help and did a lot to assuage my nerves. I think Spicy enjoyed having his 'food mom' there, too! The drive was uneventful and Spicy was flat footed on arrival. Richard kitted Spicy out in his gear and began the clinic. Ten minutes in, between asking questions and busily typing notes on my phone, I looked at my horse. Like, really looked at him.

We were at a strange farm he had never been to. A stranger, albeit a professional, was handling him and he was responding like a normal animal to pressure and not thrashing around like a demented dolphin. His expression was keen and curious but his eye was soft. He was listening to the clinician and working.

I feel like such a sap, but I started to cry.

I was prepared for Spicy to be... not great. Everyone was. CC had warned the clinician that he can live up to his name, and I cautioned he can be super reactive. I had ace in the trailer and I was ready to throw my clinic fee away on having a professional dressage rider walk my feral animal around the indoor for an hour.

Another trailer pulled up and the horses stomped off like elephants. One of the horses was a mare and she neighed loudly on the other side of the window letting everyone know that the queen had arrived. I gripped the wall of the indoor waiting for the blowup that never came. Sure, he periscoped the new trailer hard, jigging and being distracted. But after mere minutes, with Richard gently reminding him of the task at hand, he sighed and got back to work.

My horse. Getting upset. Shrugging it off and going back to work.

When Spicy realized his back was composed of vertebrae and not a single piece of plywood, he started trotting with beautiful tempo and loft to his step.

"I didn't know he had that in him," I mused, looking at my anxious idiot parading around like a warmblood.

"I did," CC replied. In that moment I felt both a little embarrassed and humbled. I was so busy thinking of what he couldn't do right and what he did do wrong that I hadn't allowed myself a breath to wonder what he could be when we worked through all our issues. Part of it may have been I didn't allow myself to hope that far. In that moment I craved the almost childlike optimism I used to get with horses: that we can do anything.

Many times in my lessons, CC has told me that I probably won't compete Spicy a lot. What he has to offer me is way more valuable than that, and it's that he's the most treasured, beneficial teacher I think I'll ever have. He is always able to surprise me, and he makes me surprise myself. I still have so much to learn, before I can see past what's in front of me to what it will be if I believe in us.


  1. I fucking love this. What a treat to know that your work with him is paying off. <3

    1. ironically, he was an unholy twat last night and kept exploding into the canter for no reason so it was nice to reread this post this morning and be like "oh yeah... he was a good dog I guess I won't make him into dog food (yet)"

    2. Man I feel like half the time if I didn't have a blog I would easily lose focus of all the good that came before and just wallow in the struggle of the now.

  2. I too got all the feels from this. ❤️❤️❤️

  3. aw i'm so glad that he's showing you these wonderful moments <3 it's a lot of work but it's worth it!


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