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Gifted Memorial Fund for Adult Amateurs Recipient: Carol Mundschenk (Region 2)

I was so very fortunate to receive the Gifted Fund grant from TDF. In my initial plan as written in the grant application I had planned to ride two horses in two hours, spend another hour discussing the rides with my trainer, then spend time with her as she taught.  What really happened was that I rode two horses in three hours. My trainer and I would discuss insights, observations, and the mechanics of the cues during the three hours. My trainer took notes then I took notes when I had completed both rides. The afternoon with me observing her teaching did not occur. I felt that, after riding for three hours, I was no longer at my best.  (I'm not a spring chicken!)  

My expectations for the week were surpassed because I was able to ride a horse at a higher level and was able to perform shoulder-in, haunches-in, counter canter and some canter half passes.  The rides with the other horse provided me with insights about how easily and quietly I could cue the horse to get these movements. This horse made me realize how busy I was with cues. I would then ride my horse trying to emulate the same cues and, low and behold, my horse responded without so much activity on my part.  

I feel that this experience has taught me that I don't have to work so hard when I ride. I learned that my horse is capable of more than I thought he was and even more sensitive than I gave him credit. I think he will be grateful going forward that I am quieter and less busy (at least that is my goal with each ride).

I also gained many insights into my riding, not only being busy, but I overthink instead of just riding. I learned that I don't always have to use leg; my seat and weight can be adequate aids.  

We had difficulties with saddles going to the left or right. On my horse it's to the left, but my saddle needs to be reflocked and there wasn't time to get that done when it was discovered just the week before the training. The saddle on the other horse would shift to the right. We are still trying to figure that one out, but I think I just don't stay seated in the middle. I will have to work on that.

The beauty of this concentrated training is that I worked with my trainer, so I can continue working with my trainer. I will continue to work on myself to become a better rider. This training allowed me so much more time with my trainer allowing me to ask more questions and make observations throughout the training. The luxury of time was a gift.

I want to thank TDF, the Gifted Fund selection committee and the TDF Board of Directors for this wonderful gift. It was a fantastic experience and worth every minute for the insights, observations and the ability to ride upper-level movements.  I believe I am headed in the right direction. This experience was truly a gift to me. Thank you!