I arrived at Susan's barn after missing her driveway. I've learned that my trailer hauling skills are improving in increments... getting a bit better each time I have to put it somewhere complicated.
Things I liked on first impression...
-grass was well mowed & cared for
-no wild accumulation of tractor-junk anywhere
-she was dressed to ride, except for the sneaker-shoes
Things I didn't like on first impression...
-her stalls were a mess, filled with poop atop of rubber mats
-her tackroom was overly cluttered with too many saddles & empty feed sacks
-the poop stunk
I saddled Romeo, while she talked to me about the basics. I pretended not to notice while she analyzed my saddle pad, my saddle, my girth, the breastcollar, and even the bit I used. I pretended not to pay attention while she fussed with my saddle, checking for proper fit. I even pretended I didn't see her check the curb chain for proper adjustment.
She led us to a smallish square pen, one side at a slight angle towards the barn. I again pretended not to notice while she watched me lightly climb on my horse. The little things... I figured.. "she's making sure I can safely at least mount.... She doesn't know what I do know or don't know." I agreed in my mind on the way there I would pretend I didn't know diddly squat, and let her tell me all about every little thing there was to tell me.
She asked that we walk forward, and halt. Her "halt" is on thigh pressure, which I'm still not entirely sure Romeo can feel through the saddle tree. We walked and walked and walked, and halted a dozen or more times. We then weaved in and out of three cones, with a long story about pole-bending, and barrel racing (my guess is she looked at my barrel saddle & assumed that was my aspiration.. not knowing I bought the saddle for security & comfort only).
After almost a half hour, we picked up a trot. "Finally", I thought in my head "I get to ride". The trot sessions were short, but beautiful. In a few moments of tense panic, I did lean a bit forward, but otherwise, I did good.
Things I did well...
+soft hands, so I'm told
+paid attention, and looked happy to be in the saddle
Things I needed to improve
-Legs in front of me, allowing the saddle fenders to fall naturally, rather than pulling them back to where dressage-legs would go
-Halt with thighs
-Pull up on the bit, rather than back for changes
-Work less, and allow Romeo to do the work
A good hour overall. Her horses were nice, and sweet enough in their stalls. I didn't like seeing that much poop in the stalls, though. YUCK!