Pepper was quite busy during Joel’s last visit to SAFE, for not only was she my companion in the groundwork portion of the clinic, but she was also present in the colt start. Because she’d worked so hard in the days prior to our groundwork sessions, she was a little bit sore on her right side, but throughout the weekend we still managed to get quite a bit done tracking mostly to her left. 

Last clinic, we worked a lot on front quarters — me on keeping my angle, and Pep on being able to ‘make it’ in the movement. There are some horses who are able to fill in the gaps for people, and at this point, Pepper is not one of them. If I stopped my feet (which I am prone to do) or changed my angle even the slightest bit when asking for front quarters, whatever front quarters she did have would fall apart. However, we made some great strides (literally!) over the weekend, and she was able to successfully execute front quarters on more than one occasion. Her lack of balance in her feet means that she is also prone to falling forward, so backing her up after front quarters is important to ensure she rocks back on her hind, but by the end of the weekend she was anticipating being asked to back and rocking back on her own. 

We also worked on developing life, and we did reach a point where she was very responsive to what I was asking her. More often than not, I was able to ask her to move out with just my ‘good deal,’ meaning I did not have to pick up the pressure before she took me up on my offer. It is really delightful to have moments of feeling in sync with a horse, and I appreciate Pepper’s enduring patience with me as I develop my feel. 

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to work with the same horse two clinics in a row, for it offered me a broader picture of not only the areas both of us needed to work on, but also where we had improved. It is always a joy to get to learn and grow alongside Pepper, and I look forward to our continued partnership!