It's the first time ever that Des has managed two clinics in a row, (he's usually recovering from split ends or something similar) and now there was the pressure to show progress. However, in the months since the last clinic I had actually scrubbed everything we were working on, and gone right back to square 0.01.
I ditched 4 reins and 2 bits and returned to the snaffle, and had done nothing other than work on getting the foundations as good as I could. I left all lateral work or fancy stuff and worked on walking in straight lines and bending with softness and not much else.
I returned to riding on one rein at a time, with one leg aid at a time, really clearing up seat and weight aids. I plugged away at addressing every brace, resistance or misunderstanding as it showed up. And as Des can move at the speed of light in any given direction at any time, this can be harder than it sounds. I needed Sarah cheering me on over the gate on a number of occasions.
It was, to be honest, a bleeding nightmare. I realised how much my horse had been filling in for me, that I had been fudging things and 'getting by' rather than having him totally and utterly clear about what the aids mean. Each aid, totally isolated from anything else which allowed him to guess or anticipate the meaning.
So, having been through this slightly torturous time, and coming out the other side with a horse that felt softer, happier, and more with me than I have ever experienced I was somewhat hoping we might get to rest on our laurels for a little while once we were back in front of Mr Karl. Clearly, obviously, not.
With this new foundation of basics finally in place we could skip straight to the next library of things I haven't got sorted, or have been avoiding, or hoping would come out in the wash. There is no space for ego if you actually want to iron out your kinks.
My conclusion - if you want to get good at something, it's really, really hard. You have to live largely in a world of discomfort (to ensure your horse doesn't). Bugger.
I think this chap is saying the same thing. But, better.