Stay, he told me. You can pet me.
I drove up to the barn the morning of the second day and backed up to my trailer. I decided that I wasn't willing to sit in the rain for another day and not get to work with my horse.
Lou's twin sister, Catherine, walked up. Both sisters have that great English accent that makes you feel like you are in an Emily Dickinson poem.
"Are you leaving?"
"Probably," I said.
"But aren't you going to work with your horse?"
"I don't know," I said, miserably. "He's so saddle sore, Kathleen said we'd 'see' if I could work. I really don't want to sit in the rain and watch. I'm just not that way."
She grinned a bit. That's precisely what she'd been doing - she was going to attend the other half of the clinic and ride. But for now, she was just watching. "I guess I'm just that way. I can watch these things all the time."
I sighed. "If I came here with that in mind, then I'd be all for it. But it's just not what I paid for. I didn't pay to audit. I came because I need help with what I'm doing. If all I'm going to get is that my horse's saddle doesn't fit, then I might as well go home."
Her eyes grew wide. And I knew what that meant. Kathleen was walking behind me, and undoubtedly overheard my entire bratty spiel.
Great. Just great.
I finished hooking up my trailer and unpacked my rain clothes. I'd be up after the first rider - if I was going to be up at all. At least today I'd be dry. I headed back to a quiet place behind a far barn to do some yoga and get rid my crappy mood. Maybe I could avoid sticking my boot further in my mouth.
A few hours later I stepped into the round pen as the rain started. It had been clear up until that moment, something we all noted. I was beginning to feel a bit like Eeyore and his rain cloud. But at least I had my horse. We tried a shim pad on Cibolo and got the new saddle I'd ordered from ebay set on him - it was the least of all three evils I had with me. Cibolo was still tender, but much improved. I was glad to be there, but wasn't sure what I could do.
"Show me what you usually do," Kathleen said.
"Well, I see if I have his attention," I said, showing the few checks I run through with Cibolo. Lowering the head. Backing on a touch. She asked me lunge him on the line. I sent him out at a trot.
"He knows how to do all that," she observed. As he was trotting around she asked "Can you get him to walk?"
I stopped. I wasn't sure. Every round pen session focused on getting up from a walk, not staying in one. I wasn't sure if I even had a signal for a walk.
I took him off the line and we worked for the next hour on the holes in my round penning. I found a walk, it was ugly, but we got there. Most importantly in those rain filled circles I found the critical thing I came for, I felt it as I was sending him around. It was the correct intensity, the way to up the pressure without emotions rising. The steady push. The relentlessness without the irritation. The tougher energy by getting stronger, not darker.
I also found that when footing gets sketchy, Cibolo gets out of balance, almost like he isn't sure how to handle it. The times he's balked seemed to make sense now - they were times when his footing has been different and he's felt insecure. I could see it right there in the sloppy mud. I found myself pushing him throgh those sketchy places, pushing him through to experience it, to get over it.
I found the way to bring him down, all the way down, saw the missing transition.
"Often times people who have come from the training style you have (read: Parelli) can't get their horses to walk."
I laughed. There is something ironic that Parelli doesn't focus on walking. In fact everyone I've heard says that the horse isn't really engaged at a walk or a trot. They want you to get them up in that round pen, then get them to come in to you.
"Master the walk," said Kathleen. "First, master the walk."
I had plenty to work on now. After I put Cibolo back I unhooked my trailer. I'd be staying. And by the end of the day I'd have learned even more.