So much riding this week!
Sunday and Monday were homework days, and then Tuesday and Wednesday were both supposed to be lesson days (ended up just being Tuesday). Owner Lady is out of town this week and I’m leaving to visit home tonight, so Addy will get a nice rest for a few days.
In my homework rides I kept the focus on working hard, not working long. Some more trot poles, getting our sitting trot nice and powerful, and asking her to round to the bit a little more. Similar to last week, just reinforcing those lessons.
Tuesday’s lesson! There were just two of us in the ring (not my usual lesson buddy, but an adorable junior on her equally adorable greenie) so we got lots of attention. Plenty of no-stirrup work at the trot with big circles and lots of changes of rein. I was a little worried because the farrier had just been by and Addy’s left hind was slightly stocked up- which it does on occasion- but she didn’t take a single step wrong. Sturdy Girl is sturdy.
I focused really hard on pushing my inside leg to outside rein, and Addy responded by giving me that beautiful roundness and bend through her body. She’s started to build the muscles to carry herself in better balance, so I’m going to ask for that self-carriage more often. Her little nose sticking out is very cute, but I can get a much more sensitive response if I have her really tuned up on the bit. Also, medal classes.
Our canter work was nice and calm- I’ve started to have the tendency to collapse my right side a little no matter what direction I’m going, so I tried to sit up really straight and evenly. The consistent work lately meant that Pretty Pony was very happy to lope around and collect when asked. We even got some canter-trot transitions that weren’t super giraffe-like! She’s starting to realize that slowing down isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For jumping, we did gymnastics again (yay!!). Started off with a little one-stride, then built it to a one-stride-one-stride, then added a bounce at the end. The second one-stride was a little short so we had to woah slightly through, but that’s nothing new for us. Addy was great about staying nice and straight through the whole thing, and staying straight to the end afterwards. We kept the jumps fairly low for the greenie, and my assignment was to work on keeping my shoulders straight and tall.
I did go through without stirrups again, and then my sneaky trainer set the oxer close to 3′ for the next time I went through. So now I can say I jumped 3′ without stirrups! Addy got lots of pats for taking care of me and staying between me and the ground.
We had a great conversation about bits also, and I’ll share what she told me. I told her that our first course at shows usually requires a lot of leg as she’s peeking at the new jumps, but after that I lose my brakes. It doesn’t feel dangerous, but any adjustability goes right out the window. I can’t do a darn thing about her stride so it doesn’t even matter if I see a distance. We agreed that a harsher bit wasn’t the answer, because we don’t want her backing off the bit at all. Instead we’re going to try a couple different types of leverage bits. That way things can continue as usual until I need the extra strength, and then I can engage the second rein and get her attention. We’re also going to give the figure-8 bridle a try and see how that changes how she responds.
On to Wednesday! (Yes I am pretty tired from riding 4 days in a row. Addy is still going strong like the beast that she is.) Our barn is at the Loudoun Benefit Show at the Upperville show grounds all week, and yesterday ended up being super long for them. Instead of a lesson, D’Arcy and I took the girls out for a little trail ride around one of the bridle paths nearby.
Yes, I voluntarily went on a trail ride!
This was a really fun mental break for us to get out of the ring and mosey about. She’s been giving me such a good effort during the last few days and I don’t want her to get stale at all. We trotted and cantered a little bit, but it was mostly walked around on a loose rein and enjoyed the breeze. I asked her to round up a bit at the walk a couple times to keep her muscles engaged and she gave that to me very softly.
It was so funny, both of the mares really wanted to be in front. Addy is bigger than Gracie and naturally has a bigger step, so we tended to be walking faster, but then Gracie would come trotting up as if she was saying “wait for me!!” I’m glad that they’re horsey BFFs since it meant D’Arcy and I could ride right next to each other without worrying about the girls.
Sadly that was my last ride until next Wednesday. I’m flying home to RI tonight to go to my almost-sister’s bridal shower and bachelorette party, meet my beautiful niece, celebrate my brother’s birthday, and spend time with family. I’m ridiculously excited!
I’m hopefully going to finish up a post to share while I’m gone, but may be too distracted by pink fruity drinks and baby snuggles (not at the same time, obvi) to get that done. If that’s the case, I’ll touch base with you all next week! Hope you have an absolutely fantastic weekend!
What do you and your horse like to do for a mental break? Any thoughts on our bit experiments?