The next time, I was able to use my 12-foot line, and have in wrapped around once while I whacked everything in sight, and Royal gave me his should-totally-be-patented look I call "Polite Concern." This is where his expression seems to say something along the lines of "I don't know what you're doing or why you're doing it, but I'll just stand here and stare at you until you stop doing it, and we can return to sanity, please." Ha! Joke's on you Royal! I'll never return to sanity, because I was never there in the first place.
Then came the incident where I almost Royal and myself shot. We were trotting down the road, when a car going the other way stopped and rolled down its window. We stopped and the nice driver told us that there was a trail that went down to the river. Despite the fact that I'm horrible with verbal directions, we wandered off in search of the trail. Well, I was a doofus and we turned too early and wound up wandering past the "NO TRESPASSING" sign right up to someone's house. It didn't look like anyone was home, so I tried to make a quick exit, but then I heard a voice asking "Can I help you?'
I could see where it was coming from, so we turned around and I weakly asked "Um... can we get to the river from here?" "Nope." "Oh. Sorry. Bye." And we walked away. Quickly, but hopefully not quick enough to arouse suspicion. And we went home. I didn't even try looking for the trail again. Maybe later.
Maybe we weren't escaping from booby-trap-boulders, and the guy probably didn't have his gun out (women on horse don't exactly strike terror into the hearts of the citizens of rural Minnesota) but hey. Gotta start somewhere.
We've also been working on standing still for braiding. Royal was gracious enough to let me do this while he (mostly) stood still.
I left the tails long so I could cut them and get his mane a good length, and I'll probably do more braids in the future (I did 12 this time, but will probably do 15+ in the future.) So now his mane his about 5 inches long, and I'll be neatening it up it up over the next few days. It's thick as ever, but a lot more manageable now.
We've also been working with ditches. One of the pastures has a big divot similar to a competition, but Royal never took it seriously, and still jumped the ditch at Steepleview awkwardly enough to mess up one of his hind boots. With Roebke's Run fast approaching, we need to be more comfortable with ditches. So I started thinking, what do the competition ditches have that our ditch doesn't? Then it hit me: rails. Our ditch is, for lack of better descriptor, too natural. So I needed to better imitate a competition ditch, which was easy enough to do with the toys I have.
The poles really worked. Royal went from "Yeah, yeah, whatever" to "OMG KILLER MONSTER DITCH." The program is simple: when I go get him from the pasture, we'll play for a bit, then I'll ask him to jump the ditch. So far it's working. The first time, it took him a while to jump the ditch in a calm manner. It's quite a bit wider than most ditches at events, so he really has to reach for it. But after the third time, he jumped it calmly after only a couple of sideways star jumps.
3 weeks until Roebke's Run! We're entered in the Beginner Novice Horse division. So excited!