I know, I know... Total teaser post. But I ran out of time at work (umm.... to blog?) and I wanted to at least throw up a small update.
For Christmas I got The Boy a really nice camera. It's small, but it's powerful and neither of us have figured out exactly how to use it. Hence, we figured that bringing it down to Prairie would be a great "test" to get used to filming video AND taking good pics.
As you can imagine, I was rather excited to have the fancy-new-camera trained on the new mare, but not even 15 minutes into our journey down to see her I asked "hey, can I take a look at the camera.. what bag is it in?"
Silence. Bad "oops-I-forgot-to-pack-that" silence. Darn it. So we were relegated to iphone photos and video, which leaves a lot to be desired, but fortunately there aren't a lot of FABULOUS details to be capturing so I guess it turned out for the best.
Also, The Boy forgot to pack his toothbrush, which I figure was punishment enough for failing on the photo front.
Back to the Rides:
Friday we got there a bit later than anticipated, so J had the mare all tacked up and ready to go when we walked in the door. I gave the mare a pat, she gave me a quizzical "who are you" look but then willingly followed me off to the ring.
We started by just walking the ring a few times, I didn't exactly give her a full loose rein (remembering he series of mini-freakouts from before). J immediately started coaching me on Prairie's desire to get fixated on things outside the ring and turn into a total drama llama (a la Mr. Tucker). J called that move Prairie's "Loch Ness Monster" (revealing the pet name "nessie"... sigh).
Not rocket science, but when llama-ing, or ness-ing or whatever we want to call it, Miss Mare needs to be put to work.
Bent, moved, shifted, halted, kicked, something.
When that happens, it's like her simple dinosaur/llama/loch ness brain forgets what she's worried about and comes back to you pretty quickly.
good. to. know.
In fact, it seems that the busier you keep her, the more comfortable and confident she is. This is not a radical discovery, but it does mean that some of my Pia-defenses don't serve me well with Prairie... which took me a bit to reprogram.
Once we got that sorted out, it was really only me who was causing problems. J's Kieffer that I was riding in put me a bit in the back seat, but that was definitely not the biggest issue for the ride. I mentioned my claw of a left hand (still sore, btw), and my tight back. Not surprisingly whenever I loosened my back and loosened my hands, the mare didn't bolt or take advantage of me.. she just stayed where she was and softened as if to sigh and tell me "thank you for not clamping down on me". Got it... something to work on.
The hard thing was that in order to keep this big tall drink of water balanced, I have to constantly ask her to be doing something. Therefore we worked lots of transitions, changes of direction, leg yields and leg yields on the rail/circle. Just to keep Prairie moving her body and shifting around. That seems to be the best way to keep her under herself and listening. Too much of the "same" without asking for something new got us into trouble. The long, low, plowing kind of trouble.
Here's the first short video... We're warming up with a leg yield down the rail. I'm stiff and not helping her out, but I really do have to give Prairie credit for still stepping under herself and staying really light to my aids (no spurs, no whip!). You also see one of her "distracted" moments, where she wants to freeze and llama up...
She's a ditz. But she's cute!
Okay, second video - trot work. Figure-eights. Lots of figure-eights... This is where I felt like a moron. The video doesn't even begin to show how all over the place I was feeling. I was having a hard time getting her into my outside rein (left claw to blame me thinks) and every time I changed the bend I felt like I was losing her hind end. My ultimate solution was to just minimize her gaits and energy until I felt like I was stable.. which is not exactly a long term solution. We had some okay moments. And when she was in my outside rein, and relaxing her back - it. was. awesome. It's just that we weren't accomplishing that task for a majority of the ride.
There were more leg yields at the trot, some brief canter circles and more transitions, but The Boy got cold and retreated to the truck (I can't blame him, it was chilly).
Saturday, our ride was more of the same, except with 4 other riders in the ring. I felt like I was on a runaway train and honestly, was fairly certain we were going to hit someone. Prairie is never "running away" with you, but when she's not confined in your aids... she' sorta hard to maneuver.
Regardless, I came away from the weekend impressed with the mare, happy for her patience, and really, really frustrated with my body. She's so big it exaggerates my timing issues and total lack of inner thigh strength... thigh master anyone?
Sidenote - the navy plaid looks awesome on her. Feeling very good about the matching sheet purchase. Pretty lady.