Before a big event, it’s important for things to go right.  Preparation is key, right?  Right.

Thats why the week before the big clinic that Isley and I had been invited to, I wanted everything to go perfect.  Nina was to ride him Monday and Tuesday, and Thursday I would have a lesson before hauling to the clinic Friday.  It was perfect – He’d get schooled by Nina early in the week, rest up on Wednesday, and then we would have a prep session Thursday.

The disaster started Monday – due to an unforeseen tragedy in the barn family, The training ride was cancelled.  Tuesday was another training ride, but because it had been so suddenly hot, Isley was both tense and very quickly tired.  There was all kinds of commotion at the barn with construction and trailers pulling in and out, so

Isley got a lot of exasperated looks from me after his ride.

he was unsettled nearly the whole ride.  Nina attempted to shake him out of it and use the tension to introduce him to walk-canter transitions, but he did not get the concept and she got a grand total of – 0.  It was not the worst day, but by no stretch of the imagination was it the most successful.   I decided to give him another day off Wednesday since had been so tired and a little cranky Tuesday, and I didn’t want him to have a heavy week right before the clinic.

Thursday is when it all went south.  Upon arriving at the barn, I noticed that they were painting the outside of the round pen.  I tacked him up as usual, not thinking anything of it.  When I went to lead him to the round pen, I was told there was no lunging, as they didn’t want dust in the paint.  Due to his explosive nature, we do not ride Isley without lunging first.  There is a strict no lunging allowed rule in the arena, so I was at a loss.  When Nina arrived I told her the predicament.  Was I going to get on him without lunging – after a day off no less, or was I going to go to the clinic without having ridden my horse all week?  I made the choice to ride.  Immediately his tension from not being lunged was evident.  Outside factors kept worsening the situation – the painter came back from his lunch break, and started re-mixing the paint with an egg beater style contraption, a worker started pressure washing the inside of the barn, a horse trailer pulled in and someone drove a tractor out of it.  Isley never spooked, but ground his teeth and became evasive of the contact through his shoulders, he started popping his shoulder to one side or the other, refusing to bend, and wiggling down the long sides. Without working him to the point of exhaustion, we did our best to get him schooled, but it was apparent that it was not an ideal start to the weekend.

My goal for the clinic was set – Don’t fall off.