Considering that I am now in possession of an injured wrist, a finger that got smashed and is now swollen and impressively bruised, and a very sore back, one would be inclined to think that I had a terrible weekend. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sunday, Sparky and I tagged along with Honorary Big Sister Jen and Tiki to go XC schooling at Calimar Farm and meet up with The $700 Pony (of The $700 Pony fame) and her staff, Marisa. Calimar is a very inviting, nice facility with a beautiful water complex. The owners are wonderfully nice, as well, which makes it all the better. Now some of you may recall that I wasn't sure if I was going to take Star or Sparky. I guess subconciously I always knew that I was taking Sparky - when I left Jen a message on Saturday night, I said something about giving Sparky a bath Sunday morning; but this was before I "decided" to take Sparky!
We arrived at Calimar and proceeded to unload the horses. Well, Tiki, anyway. Sparky decided that he was having pretty much none of this "backing of the straight load trailer" stuff. After trying to convince him otherwise (and getting my finger smashed in the process, hence the swelling and impressive bruising), I decided to use Sparky's driving ability to my advantage. A leadrope on either side, and Sparky was convinced to back off the trailer, just as if he were backing under harness. Brilliant. I was pretty proud of myself for that one.
We started our warm-up in the stadium field. W-T-C both directions, with extra emphasis on the right lead, which he picked up with no problem. Near the end, Sparky had a pretty nice right lead canter. Hopped over some crossrails and applied "the George Morris Method to Schooling Scary Obstacles*" (hence forward referred to as the George Morris Method) to a jump of blue barrels lying on their side. No problem either direction. Then I decided to try a couple more of the stadium jumps - a red and white vertical with a red gate and a pretty decent (for Sparky)-sized blue and white oxer. Sparky hopped over them like it was no big deal.
We then moved on to jump out into the XC field over the Lincoln logs. The Lincoln logs jump was our "oh-my -gosh-wow-that-was-amazing-I-can't-believe-we-did-it!" jump the last time Sparky and I schooled at Calimar. It was pretty much the biggest thing he had ever jumped (certainly the biggest solid jump), and no one was quite sure that he would do it. When he did, we were amazed, and I was giddy beyond belief and absolutely thrilled with my pony. Coming up to it this time, I found myself thinking that it looked small... and Sparky went right over!
Jen and Marisa put their ponies over the hanging log, and I was thinking that Sparky and I would take a pass on it for the day. But then we got closer to it, and it didn't look as big as I'd thought. So I decided we'd give it try. No problem - up and (way) over! Over the little-ish log on the ground, and over to the ditches. Of course, with all the rain we had earlier in the week, there was actual water running through them. Sparky managed to put on his big-boy pants and go over the little one a few times, but wasn't ever comfortable with the bigger one. I had two options: A) Push the issue, and go over it, or B) Forget about it. Since I knew that his insecurity stemmed only from the water, and because he's done that same ditch with no problem without water, I decided that if I was going to fry his brain, I would do it on something more worthwhile. So we walked up to the edge of it, called it good, and went over the little ditch a couple more times.
Jen led the way to the next grouping of jumps - another kinda funny looking log, a biggish bank, and a bridge. Sparky and I did approached each jump individually first. The log was pretty much a no-brainer. The bank up was a bit harder for him - he literally almost climbed up it the first time. And then we came to the bridge. I wasn't sure it was going to happen - it looked HUGE. A few false starts, I was pretty well reconciled that it was just too big, and it wasn't happening. But then, after one "last" attempt, employing the George Morris Method, I felt Sparky actually offer to try and jump. So we approached once more, and over he went. Came back the other way, and he actually trotted right up to it and went over with no hesitation. We then followed Jen's lead, and strung the three jumps together both directions (omitting the bank down - I wanted to do a smaller bank down first). While Jen and Marisa played around some more, Sparky and I tried our hand at the train made of barrels. Sparky had no problem with it, and the log next to it was cake.
Up next were the ramped "wavy logs" that I was never able to convince Sparky to go over the last time we were at Calimar. He did that with no problem, while Jen did a big red coop next to it. Sparky and I took a pass on the coop. It was easily bigger than anything he'd ever jumped, and it didn't seem like the ideal jump for introducing more height. We then proceeded to the water complex. Sparky went right in, and also jumped down a little bank into the water and back out up a little bank with no problem. I knew I wanted to try the cabin right by the water wheel, but the sound of the water wheel can be distracting, so I decided to try another cabin first. The dog-run cabin looked pretty okay, so we did that. Coming back the other direction, though, Sparky decided that now it looked pretty scary. As I was working with him on it, Jen yelled over, "Nicole, this one's smaller!" I replied, "He already did this one the other way!" A little more schooling (again with the George Morris Method), and Sparky went over. We then moved on to the cabin by the water wheel. Silly me for thinking he would be distracted; he went right over! We then played a little more in the water complex, jumping in from a slightly bigger bank, and eventually out the biggest plain bank.
By this time, Sparky was getting pretty tired and was pretty close to the end of what his brain could handle for the day. We all headed back towards the beginning. Jen was determined that to get back out, she was going to jump the bench that always rattles her. The $700 Pony did it first, and then Jen followed with Tiki. It was pretty good... but I know Jen well enough to know that sometimes she has to be pushed just a little bit more... so I told her she had to come back over. Which also meant that she would have to jump it back out again. And she did, with no problem at all. The $700 Pony followed. Now, I had planned on jumping back out over the Lincoln logs... but looking at the bench, it really didn't look *too* bad. So I decided that Sparky and I would just jump out over that. Again, he went right over. What a good boy!
Gave my Napolean Dynamite lots of pats and praise and hopped off. I absolutely could not be more proud of him - he did absolutely everything I asked, and even jumped almost all of the same things as the "big horses." He might get this figured out, yet!
PS - For those of you wondering about the where the wrist works in: I injured it on Saturday helping a girl take off a boot. Yes, you just read that right.