What a treat for you, Dear Reader: two professional Powerpoint diagrams two days in a row!!
Yesterday’s lesson was exactly what I needed: a reminder that even though we couldn’t do Very Hard Things on Monday, there’s plenty that we’re still good at and we’ve come so SO far together.
After a lovely afternoon thunderstorm rolled through, we warmed up in the outdoor ring. The rain kept the dust down and it was beautiful soft afternoon sunshine as the sun began to set. As I was walking around to get ready, I had one of those “how lucky am I?” moments. Answer: fortunate beyond belief.
Addy is always very short-stepped in the outdoor ring and dislikes going into the corners, so I focused on holding my leg strongly and pushing her exactly where I wanted her. Once I sat deeper in the saddle our circles got much more civilized. At one point a piece of machinery nearby backfired twice (sounded like a gunshot!) and Addy twitched and continued on. Love this spook-proof pony. We also did lots and lots of no-stirrup work at the trot and canter with Trainer laughing gleefully and yelling, “I love no stirrup work, it makes me sleep better at night to make you do it!” No joke, she was downright giddy.
We popped over a crossrail in the outdoor a couple times to warm up, then headed inside to play. Here’s our course!
We warmed up over the quarter line towards home G-C a couple times. We trotted in and cantered out, so Trainer wanted us to do it in 4 strides. The first time through was great, the second was a very gappy three because I got complacent, and then we schooled through 2 more times to reinforce the 4. It’s awesome that she moves up for me, but I need to keep that leg tight and half-halt as soon as we land to remind her that a short, powerful stride to the base is our friend.
Then on to our course! We did A-B-C-D-E-F-G. Isn’t it funny how alphabetical that is? Almost like I planned it that way. So outside red 2’9″-3’ish vertical, then down the diagonal swedish oxer at 2’6″ish. Up the broken pink to yellow plank in a bending four (both 2’3″-2’6″ish), down the outside zebra-gate at 2’9″, and back up the swedish the other direction broken to the stone wall (2’3″ish) in a direct three. Nothing too big or scary for us, though the zebra gate was brand new.
Our first jump was very nice even though it was one of the bigger ones on course and out of a long approach. We’ve done this approach often enough that I know how to leg up and hold for our distance, and Addy rarely wiggles to this anymore. Coming down the swedish was actually ridiculous- we took a totally huge flier over it. Good pony for saving my butt when I thought we had another stride in there. In all honesty, I should’ve held stronger for that closer distance. Lesson learned. Our first time through we got a little gappy into the pink, so I had to sit deep and WOAH for the four, but we salvaged that and jumped out well. We came around to the zebra and I got complacent, which meant that Pretty Pony ducked out. New scary jump plus lack of commitment from the lady upstairs? She wasn’t feeling it. So I circled and came at that sucker with so much gumption! She went just fine after that. We were a little strung out to the swedish in the other direction though the distance was decent, and held for the broken three out.
We went back through and tried this again, and I changed a couple things. I still got a bit of a gap into the oxer, which got us a bit strung out for the first broken. I committed HARD to the zebra fence and we got that very comfortably, and finished up more packaged and controlled for the final broken.
Trainer had me go back and just do the long approach to the oxer to the broken four. I kept my leg on more strongly and held to the base, which set us up really nicely through the corner on landing. It made it a lot easier to get more powerful- not faster or longer, just more powerful- out of the turn to the pink, so our distance set us up for a nice bouncy four out.
One side note: Addy was absolutely jumping out of her skin over every single one of these jumps. I don’t know why she was leaping so high, but she cleared everything by a solid foot. DragonMare was NOT going to touch those rails! It made it a little more difficult to keep my balance, but on the bright side I can’t think 3’6″ would be scary anymore. We’re already jumping 3’6″ over 2’6″ jumps, how different can it be to actually have the rail there?
I was very happy to hear Trainer tell me that she was happy with how I schooled Pretty Girl. She told me that as Addy has gotten fit and as I’m asking for more and more from Addy she’s giving me a more challenging ride, and Trainer is very happy that I’m keeping up and riding actively. Then she added that when we nail a course it’s because I was thinking and making the right decisions. When we were doing crossrails and tiny jumps Addy was very auto-pilot and made all the decisions for us- which is honestly why I started leasing her. But as I’m pushing her buttons she’s giving me more to work with, and it’s getting more difficult to contain all of it. It is seriously So. Much Fun. I would much rather work hard to package and push and play with this girl and do all the fun things we do instead of having a point-and-shoot beginner’s horse. I never think of Addy as a difficult horse to ride since I’m so used to her, so it was really nice to hear Trainer say that she liked how I rode her. I have miles and miles to work on and improve, but it’s so awesome to have an encouraging trainer and the DragonMare to point me on my way!
We didn’t do anything crazy- the jumps weren’t huge and the courses were simple- but it reminded me that a few short months ago I could barely release over a crossrail, and I would’ve never been able to package Addy up for the corners and different stridings. We’re going to continue to work really hard on getting her more sensitive to my leg so we can get those turns, but I’m going to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’re going to train hard and improve and have so much fun doing it!
PS- One of the juniors at the barn took some GORGEOUS pictures on her fancy camera while we were warming up, and I’d love to share. I’m just waiting on the OK from her, so hopefully in the next few days I’ll have a post for you that’s almost exclusively pretty pics of the Beastly Unicorn!
PPS- I also got Addy a fancy new show pad for our trip to Loch Moy on the 16th. I felt really bad that I had treated myself to TS breeches and got her the cheapo $30 fake fleece pad. I snagged the Shire fleecey pad when Dover was having a sale, and was very happy when I used it during our lesson yesterday.
PPPS- Last one I promise. I told Owner Lady that I want a saddle just like hers since it’s so supremely comfortably and fits both me and Addy really well, and she may sell hers to me! It needs some re-stitching, but it would be great if I could snag it! It’s a 17.5″ M. Toulouse and feels like sitting on a cloud with my legs placed just right. I’m in love with it. Now I keep texting her that she deserves to treat herself with a saddle upgrade and does she really want to go through the hassle of consignment when she already has a willing buyer?? Keep your fingers crossed for me!
When have you had a moment where you looked back and realized your progress? What’s been your proudest horsey moment lately?