Friday, August 21, 2015

The Kottas Experience: Day 2, Redemption

After Day 1 I came to several important realizations: Arthur was basically saying all the same things my trainer says, this was not new material and I know this stuff. Arthur wasn't going to give me any step by step instructions on how to ride, I already know how to ride and I needed to actually ride my horse so he could give me some useful feedback. Most importantly, I realized I didn't really give a rat's ass what Arthur or the auditors thought about me or my horse, they're only here for three days. I was just going to go out there, ride my horse and have fun.

The whole " will never ride past First Level" statement from Day 1 actually didn't bother me that much. Arthur Kottas doesn't know me or my horse and I had honestly presented some spectacularly shitty work on Day 1. It's no different from a judge or a railbird watching one crappy ride: they don't know you, they don't know your horse. They can only judge what they're seeing right now. I know I can ride past First Level, because my horse has shown at Third Level and is ridden and trained exclusively by me. So, what I needed to do was just ride my horse the way I know how to ride my horse and to hell with the rest of it. 

It doesn't hurt that I'm pretty stubborn and contrary. 

Now, I will say I made one mistake again: I brought Spider with me for the whole day. (Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?)  Spider was even worse on Day 2, the running and screaming started as soon as I put him in his paddock. Since the clinic hadn't started yet, Arthur wandered over and said, "Isn't that your horse? He's so stressed. Why is he so stressed? He has a lovely paddock and is surrounded by other horses." I had to be like, "Yeah, he's.... uh... special....".

I didn't let Spider's stress level get to me on Day 2, though. Instead, I took him out of the paddock, walked him around and just hung out with him for most of the day. The second day of a clinic is always less chaotic, so I was able to do that for him. Yes, I missed auditing a lot of the clinic, but my horse, no matter how clingy, needy and generally crazy he might be, is more important to me than auditing any clinic.

I also remembered to take my pills and I washed them down with a beer. Better living through chemistry, right?

When our turn to ride came, I went in and rode the crap out of my horse. I now knew Arthur's style, that he was just going to call off exercises and critique, so I just rode the hell out of those exercises. Spider started out tense and resistant, but I kept calm and focused on my horse and my riding. Instead of getting flustered if I didn't understand something or messed up, I just asked if I could try it again. And guess what? He let me have do-overs! I only heard, "Your riding is bad." once, and it was in some canter work where my riding was actually bad. I had failed to set Spider up for the transition properly, and that's straight up bad riding.

At one point Arthur said, "Ah! You can do this!". Sweet Redemption! Arthur even said at the end, "He started out very shitty, but you ended well." Yes, that's right, my horse inspired Arthur Kottas to call him "shitty"! (He was talking about his temperament, not his overall quality. Spider threw a couple temper tantrums at the beginning.)

And then we all had a BBQ that may or may not have involved stolen corn and I went home and went to bed to prepare for Day 3.......

Oh! And to answer redheadlins' question about the rodeo from Day 1, Arthur loved the rodeo! He videoed everything and asked a ton of questions about the different events, which I answered as best I could considering I haven't been involved with rodeo stuff in 20 years. Between the four of us DQs who went with him, we managed to come up with fairly decent answers to most of his questions (I think). He especially liked the bull and bronc riding, but thought all the events were great. Honestly, it was at this point that I realized that I didn't need to be a fancy DQ on a push-button horse to ride for Arthur Kottas. A guy that likes bronc riding that much is probably going to be cool with me kicking the shit out of my horse in a clinic.


  1. Still cracks me up that he went to the rodeo. Glad day two was better!

  2. Oh Spider... my horse acted like a complete asshole when we got to my last (ill fated) clinic. He screamed and ran himself ragged until well into the third day we were there.

    I knew you two were going to get it together. Hosting and riding was kind of a tall order!

    Can't wait to hear about day three. :D

  3. You won the head game! Great report and riding.

    Also, thanks for the Lost meme.

  4. Good job on day 2, coming back after a not-so-fun day 1 is challenging and you did awesome :)

  5. sweet sweet redemption!!! also i need a t-shirt that says this lol: "Better living through chemistry, right?"

  6. I learned years ago, to ride my horse my way in a clinic, no matter who the trainer was. If I was wrong, so be it, but the only way to progress is do the best riding you can and let the trainer tell you what needs fixing. Glad you went out on Day 2 with a new attitude and showed what a good rider you can be. Hoping Day 3 was even better.

    One of my friends audited and said the clinic was great. Didn't get to talk to her too much about specifics, but I don know she signed up with you and really liked Arthur.

    Glad he enjoyed the rodeo. Must have been quite a new experience for him if he's never been to one before. What fun.


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