I've done a lot of thinking about what the future holds for me and Royal. Even though we didn't pull off a Disney movie finish, I still felt like it was an extremely successful weekend. I really want to keep going with eventing, even if we never get a ribbon.
The question become, how do I mesh competition training and Parelli? So far, the official Parelli line has been that you don't do anything even remotely related to competing until you graduate Level 4. This is the equivalent of mastering 3rd Level dressage and be able to do flying lead changes bridleless and canter half-passes while ground driving and trailer loading at liberty, when it all comes down to it. I think it's patently ridiculous to require that before doing BN and Novice eventing. To achieve Level 4 with Royal, I would either have to go down to the Centers, which is becoming more and more unobtainable to the non-Parelli-Professional, or continue toiling away for what will probably be another 4-8 years. Neither option is appealing, so I'm not doing either.
This summer I did a sort of half-and-half. We did lots of competition-type training, but with a lot of Parelli techniques, and always with Parelli philosophy. Confidence is number one, reward the slightest try, and always keep things fun. I feel like our relationship vastly improved this summer. Instead of chipping away at tasks, I had lots of specific small goals surrounding the shows and travels. Things like jumping ditches, going through water, various jump heights, beginnings of dressage, getting my new trailer, etc. I really don't think I would have done any of that if I hadn't been so focused on competing. I've also begun to see what Royal is truly capable of. I always knew he was special, but he has really risen to the occasion this year. So, I feel it was a really good decision.
But, it's been a quiet couple of weeks. I've been busy with school, volunteering at the Humane Society, work, and this weekend I audited a Karen Rohlf clinic. It was cold and windy, but so worth it. She had so many useful simulations and concepts that I'm still bouncing around in my head. She creates a very good bridge between Parelli and dressage, and I think it will further add more to my and Royal's journey. Hopefully I'll be able to ride with her next year.
I've been having some short and quiet sessions with Royal. Just online or liberty session, although today we tried to do some riding today. But it was cold and rainy, and I didn't feel like Royal was really connected to me. This sort of thing seems to happen about once a month, for whatever reason. He was really distracted and not "all there" so we just had a lots of undemanding time and retreat. Eventually he came out of his shell and we had a short ride, just doing passenger lessons and circles at the walk. After which, he returned to his usual goofy self and tried to eat some paper.