I was one of those "know-it-all horse trainer" cynics
who wasn't about to waste my good money on show-off clinics.
But then the gait of my beloved Fox Trotter started to worsen
so in desperation I attended a gaited exposition in person.
Liz Graves was in town, a very well known clinician
and I'd heard she was a gaited horse training magician.
So I inquired about it, then enrolled in her equine course
and loaded up and drove over with my blue papered horse.
My gaited riding skills, I knew, left a lot to be desired
and if I did it for a living I would sure as heck get fired.
But I was determined to see if my horse was worth his salt
or if there was a chance his choppy pace was all my fault.
Some participates brought stallions but most had gelding or mares.
Ms. Graves first divided all the riders and horse into pairs.
Then she had us individually ride in circles around the ring.
I could see her watching closely, analyzing every little thing.
As we rode she stressed the importance of a good saddle fit,
the mechanics of seat position and using the correct bit.
She told how she was totally against using gimmicks and weights
to get supposedly gaited horses to stay in their gaits.
As I circled the arena it didn't take too long
until she pointed out several things that I was doing wrong.
Then when she couldn't take any more of my lack of style
she asked me if I minded if she rode my horse for a while.
It was one of those poetry-in-motion type of rides.
My horse's head was collected and he started taking longer strides.
Liz sat straight in the saddle and put on a quite a display
of her brilliant equitation skills that I remember to this day.
The horse was like clay in her hands and she was like the potter.
In fact I barely recognized it was my very own Fox Trotter.
He looked so smooth and graceful, just like he was gliding
and I realized I had so much to learn about gaited horse riding.
I don't like humble pie and I hate to eat crow
but that day she showed me some things I really needed to know.
I was duly impressed and now I'm also one of those who raves
about the understanding and skill of this horse trainer, Liz Graves.