"Everybody has forgotten about showmanship. People don't look like rock stars any more. They just look like regular dudes off the street." Vince Neil
Oh, RC agrees. Or I would assume he agrees, based on the level of panache he chose to include in this weekend's free 4H showmanship clinic to help inspire and prep all of us lowly boarders for the upcoming horse show season.
The clinic was a great idea. Every horse could use a little fine tuning on the whole 'listening to the handler' thing while unmounted. Mine in particular, it would seem. I had RC's up most attention and respect for about the first five minutes of walk, halt, square and stand... rinse and repeat. After those first five minutes with RC looking like a mensa scholar ("Oh, I can stand. Watch how good I can stand. I'l even glue my ears forward and stare through you as if contemplating the true depth of the universe while waiting for my mint. ... Where's my damn mint?!?!?") things started to get... challenging.
Not that it bothers me. I know that RC has the attention span of a gnat, so he's going to wiggle and and squirm while we wait for the other 5 people to get critiqued on whatever exercise we're trying. It builds character to see how long I can get him to stand all squared up and perky while others are doin' their thing. Can we stand still for a minute before you start thinking about biting my arm? Can we put that front foot that you are tempted to paw with right back into the hoofprint you just left? Can we ignore that horse next to us getting shanked and running backwards at us.... WHAT?!?!?
OK, so we are obviously not the only ones with attention span issues. Evidently, I'm just more patient about it.
When it was our turn to try the trot to 'extended' trot (which, by the way, is in no way shape of form a true extended trot. It hardly qualifies as a working trot), we were ready. RC was just itching to get moving and I was just trying to get out of there and not to get run over when the next wave of shanking happened next to me. So, my first attempt at jog-extend-jog was sub par. I ran faster next to RC trying to urge him to actually use himself. At all. And he took exception and tried to bite me....
So I smacked his nose and yelled at him - while still jogging - and turned around to try it again.
On the next try for jog-extend-jog we headed down the rail, my elbow at the ready in case he wanted to become Mr. Chompers again. Obviously RC had dome some thinking in the time that it took to get him turned around. He trotted (conveniently forgetting the attempted bite), I hit him . So obviously trot was not the answer I was looking for.
Now RC is a lot of things. Clever is not one of those. He's quirky, annoying, simple, obedient, and usually unfazed by whatever now things I might throw his way. So his attempt at problem solving made me laugh...
I started at the walk a C, his ears pleasantly forward, even if his eyes were a little too wide for comfort then turned along the rail on the long side. I asked for the trot.... And he cantered. Slowly. On a loose lead rope. So I brought him back down to the walk before we reached B, and asked for the trot again. Canter.
Ah, what the hell.... I let him canter happily as I jogged the rest of the long side. He was so proud of himself that he was practically smiling. Hah. Figured out THAT exercise. Bet no one else figures out that they want a canter in hand! Suckers!