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My college friend and awesome horseperson came to visit a couple weeks ago. She’s both a great rider and a great photographer, which meant her visit was the perfect opportunity to step back and get a sense of where Tebow is in his training exactly. I see him every day, so the transformation can get lost on me. We have breakthroughs and aha moments, and I think we’re getting somewhere, and my trainer’s feedback is overwhelmingly positive, but I doubt myself.

But no! He’s actually consistently going super well. And I haven’t screwed him up or made him unrideable or made him horribly quirky. It was very, very reassuring.

Tebow and friend getting acquainted.

Tebow and friend getting acquainted.

He got right to work for her and they did fantastic together. I know when I ride him, I think he’s adorable and wonderful and perfect, but it’s nice to know I haven’t totally lost the plot and he really is all of those things.

My friend warmed him up while I set fences (and took a boatload of pictures because I rarely get to see him from the ground and I was a little overwhelmed by just how nice he looked). I’m trying to hold back on the number of pictures I’m sharing in this post for the sake of brevity, but… I’m not a very brief person. So sorry.

Tebow can't help that he's a total stud.

Tebow can’t help that he’s a total stud.

Then I hopped on and played over some jumps, mostly to demonstrate his sanity before friend took her turn. Her personal horse has had the same type of lameness issues Domino has been dealing with, so she hasn’t had much opportunity to jump recently.

Oxer out of a two-stride with me. Cute babe.

Oxer out of a two-stride with me. Cute babe.

Tebow was his usual reliable self. We had a breakthrough after Seneca and finally figured out rhythm over fences: instead of running downhill and blowing through the aids, he now very consistently will keep a quiet, easy pace. A harder question might cause him to rush a little, but he’ll come right back with a half-halt.

The trick? If he starts to ignore my steadying aids, we halt. It was awkward for about 1.5 lessons, then the lightbulb went off. Now if I half-halt, he slows down and waits for me to explain what I want from him. It’s awesome. I feel like I’m riding an outstanding schoolmaster, not a reasonably green six-year old.

Suitably convinced of Tebow’s sanity and senses of self-preservation over fences, my friend took her turn. Again, incredibly adorable together.

Fun! Playing with the coop between the grass and sand jumping arenas.

Fun! Playing with the coop between the grass and sand jumping arenas.

I can’t get over how great it was to watch them together. Tebow was his good, reliable self. He listened to her, and he did what he does best: he grew her confidence. I think that skill alone makes him the best possible eventing partner. It took all of two warm-up crossrails for my friend to figure out that Tebow is basically a jumping saint. Point, shoot, smile, and enjoy. I’d lowered the jumps for her while she figured him out, but by the end she’d had me put up the back rail on the oxer out of the two-stride line and they went through it so nicely.

Superstars!

Superstars!

The whole experience made me so happy with where Tebow is and the role I’ve played in getting him there. He really is a nice horse, and while I think most of my ‘training’ with him has been more about not messing up a horse who was born with a fabulous brain, rather than any sort of amazing riding or teaching by me… it’s still awfully nice to know that I seem to be managing that quite well.

Up next: Domino! Yes, he exists and I still love him to death. Friend and I have a not-so-adventurous trail ride adventure.

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