Getting off work for a half day could have easily turned out to be the best part of my day. Echo could have been a complete nightmare refusing to load on trailer, been a mess to tack up, spooked at unknown horses, and lost her mind over a new arena. However she did none of these things, instead she was perfect, maybe too perfect.
I got to barn about 12:35 and headed over to find Lauren after a quick hello to both horses. Plan was to be loaded and ready to leave at 1:15 so I took Echo to the arena to groom since our wash stalls were both in use. She was a little confused by her early afternoon attention but wasn't about to refuse it. Lauren went off to hook the trailer up, I finished grooming MareFace and took her out toward the trailer in perfect timing since Lauren had just finished hooking everything up.
Now I half expected Echo to not load in her normal well behaved fashion. Her last trailer experience was rather horrifying. After having her front hooves on the ramp and taking approximately 30 seconds to sniff the trailer divider, she walked right on and munched on hay while we secured her for the short trip. On the road, no problems so far, and on time.
Arrived to Team CEO, unloaded just as uneventfully as loading, took her into the grass and after letting her look around for a minute or two, tacked her up. We walked her over to the arena, the 'scariest' thing was a bush by a creaking gate. I say scary because Echo's nostrils flared once... She definitely was looking around, taking in all the new sights and sounds but was far from reacting to anything she saw. Got to the arena, which is huge with all weather footing, giant windows, and fans I was in heaven to get out of the sun and be able to watch the lesson. On a 90+ degree day I was worried about the heat but it was much cooler in the arena. Lauren got on and started introducing MareFace to the arena. Other than a quick WTF moment at the coiled up hose, which lasted about 90 seconds, she didn't blink twice at a thing.
Lesson started - some more warm up so the instructor could see what she was like on the ground and get a feel for her since this was their first introduction. She w/t/c both directions with doing trot transitions at the canter to switch leads. Lauren got some pointers on exercises to do with Echo at home and then it was time for jumping. After all the circles and new exercises, Echo was tired but still willing.
Considering this was her third time going over any jumps, the general consensus was she was great. Just before the first cross rail, someone came through the arena with their dog. Echo's mind was completely elsewhere going 'over' the first jump, and it shows in the video below. The second time, she was more focused but the dog was over by me and she still seemed to be concerned that the dog was around or that I was giving something other than her attention. Regardless, she knocked a rail pretty hard the second time over which seemed to refocus her because the third time she was perfect going over. Next jump to try was the pink/purple straight rail, Echo's first time going over anything not a cross rail. She got lazy going up to it and knocked it by not picking her feet up high enough. Definitely getting more tired. Tried it again - knocked it with her hind. Third time was the charm and she went over without problem. Finally was time to try the green/yellow rail which she went over without touching a rail and it was followed up by one last successful hop over the cross rail.
Finally to finish off the day the instructor had her do a series of three jumps in a row which by that time Echo was officially tired and lazy. Still, she jumped all three without touching a rail.
After all was said and done, I fully understand now why Lauren takes 30 minute lessons. They both looked exhausted. We walked back to the trailer, untacked and gave MareFace a well deserved cold hose off. We walked her around a few more minutes and then loaded back up just as effortlessly as when we came and drove back to our barn after a quick Diet Coke pit stop. The confusion on Echo's face when she got off the trailer and was back home was priceless. I've never seen her more confused. The concept of leaving and getting to come back home may take a while to set in but with her now weekly off-farm lessons and her first show coming up in July I'm sure she'll get use to it!