Despite some seriously killer humidity, I did in fact get to have a great lesson this week! We took lots of walk breaks, left the ring a couple times to catch a breeze, and drank lots of water, but we also worked pretty hard.
Our flat warmup was fairly basic- one fun exercise we did was standing straight up in our stirrups, bridging the reins in one hand, and then reaching our free hand all over the place (up in the air, touching toes, doing the backstroke, etc.). Throwback to pony camp, anyone? I’m definitely getting better at keeping my balance when we do this! Lots of extending-collecting transitions at the trot and canter as well. Despite the heat, Beastly was raring to go and very eagerly carried me into the lengthenings. Our collection is slowly improving, but she still very much prefers to stretch out and run around.
I was really really happy with our warmup over the baby crossrail- I sat deeper, waited with my shoulders, picked my hands up, and half-halted to the base. Very civilized! We then moved on to doing some small courses at 2’6″ish:
First up was the outside vertical to outside vertical, then down the diagonal line in a flowing 3. Everyone else had to leg up for that three (or put in 4), so you can safely assume that it was a slightly woahing 3 for us. After doing that, we went through again and added the diagonal oxer.
Next, we did 1-2 the other direction (clockwise), up the oxer, down the green outside, and up the stone wall (3). The other girls managed to pull some super impressive inside turns but I was trying to get a better balance through the corners without the Unicorn leaning on my hands as much- we took the long way around.
Then the jumps went up! Most were likely 2’9″-3’ish, but I swear that outside green vertical must’ve been closer to 3’3″. I’m a notoriously bad judge of jump height, but that definitely looked more sizable than our usual fare.
And then because I’m a weenie, I got tense. So Beastly got tense. And then I braced. Which made Beastly tense more. Which led to a whole lot of sloppiness. Trainer’s comment when faced with us snorting and prancing and galloping around the ring?
“OLIVIA GET HER BACK AND GET THAT LITTLE CANTER. WE WANT MY LITTLE PONY, FORGET THE DRAGONMARE.”
Welp. Officially been called out by my trainer.
So we went and tried it again, with one goal: breathe and soften. Lo and behold, as soon as I relaxed and let My Little Pony do her job, she gave me SUCH a softer ride! Certainly not perfect- we still got fast and unbalanced at times- but she was so much more responsive and definitely seemed happier.
The revelation that better riding leads to better rides never fails to blow my mind.
Trainer mentioned that for such an opinionated horse, it’s interesting that we can “catch more flies with honey” with Addy. I can get in a fight with her all day long, but she’s much happier and willing to please if she knows we’re on the same side.
We then proceeded to take some awesome selfies because I was feeling pretty full of myself and full of how cute my amazing pony is:
Getting closer and closer to HITS! I can’t wait to share this experience with my girl, and then report back to all you awesome people!
PS- It’s my INCREDIBLE father’s birthday!!!!! He’s the most supportive, interesting, entertaining, intelligent, loving, and all-around fantastic person I’ve ever had the privilege of being loved by (well, tied with my mom of course). Please join me in sending happy vibes his way today!