It happens every few months, where the notion of tacking up and rolling the dice on what the P's will give me just sounds... arduous.
This morning I was scheduled for a 10:30 lesson with Prairie. A muddy, wet, soggy Prairie who hasn't been ridden since Friday (and not by me in a week). Add to that a slight cold that's trying to blossom into full blown snotty-sore-throatness. And I was 99% committed to asking S to take the ride while I watched.
I did manage to squeeze myself into breeches and tall boots (to look like I intended to ride if nothing else..) before leaving the house in case S couldn't, or my fistful of cough drops magically recalled my drive to ride.
Maybe it actually was the cough drops, or maybe it was just going through the motions, but once the mare was groomed (ish, there's only so much mud one can get out without a steam cleaner) and tacked I was feeling pretty good about legging up.
Now, lunging Prairie is a crap shoot. She's good on the lunge, and doesn't pull, or buck or fart around. But the scurrying around in a circle can either get some of the frisky out, or totally escalate the gerbils to full panic. Especially in the canter, she can let herself get a wee bit off balance and then it's just a hop, skip and a scoot to total meltdown.
Ergo, 10 minutes of lunging can actually do more harm than good in terms of quieting her brontosaurus brain.
Lucky for me there was no scooting so the 10 minutes of trot work and a wee bit of cantering seemed to take the edge off.
Also, the pelham that I've been schooling in a couple times a week has been requisitioned by it's actual owner which meant that I had the plain KK snaffle back on the bridle. Not the twist. Not the elevator bit. The plain, chunky happy snaffle. (hmm).
Turns out, the mare was pretty good! If anything she was a bit dull - both to my legs and my hands. I kept getting suckered into holding up her front end but S had me halt, and do our slow rein back to unlock and re-soften which helped quite a bit.
The idea is to figure eight back and forth, going both directions with lots of opportunity to sit back and lift through the turns. Good exercise for both of us since I can't possibly get away with relying on my inside rein, and Prairie didn't have time to get strung out or disengaged.. Brilliant really.
After about 10 minutes of trotting the figure eights, S asked us to add a canter transition after the angled pole, then return to the trot before turning back up the center line. This made me really half halt over the poles and emphasized the need from Prair to be in my outside rein as we turned back to the rail. Otherwise there was no shot of getting a halfway decent step into the canter, or having the balance to come back down 3 strides later.
The mare was... fabulous.
Then, about 50% of the time we would keep our canter and do a full 20m circle over both the angled poles, then return to the trot, back up the center line, change directions and canter the poles on the other lead. Prairie put in a good show on this. She didn't have any rage blackouts regarding the canter poles and even managed to add strides which prevented a strung out bounding stride. Magical.
Again. All still a bit dead to my leg and hand, but a hell of a lot better than her being overly sensitive, or loopy or scooty.
Finished up with some stirrup-less torture for me and called it a day.
Can you believe it? 3 days off, no martingale, a super soft bit and a happy, reasonable mare? I am shocked. shocked I say.
As is usually the case, I'm so glad I made myself ride. It was productive, energizing and totally rewarding. I don't know what causes the no-ride-funks, but every time as soon as I swing back up in the irons I'm pleased as punch to be there and not quite sure what I was avoiding.
Mares. They never give you what you're expecting...
As for Pia, she's with S today hopefully repeating their cavaletti work. So it's looking like a good day for our GPA! we might even achieve that elusive 2.0!
Tomorrow I'm stuck in meetings all day, but Thursday I get to hitch up the new truck (!!) and take both mares back to Summer Camp for a day of toe trimming. P1 is due and my regular farrier (who I don't really use since I do P2's feet myself..) looked at Pia's cute short, round feet with Natural Balance shoes on front and thought I was intentionally crippling her.
Since her heels are just starting to really widen and we finally have her back in a size 2 shoe I really don't want to impede her progress with a bad trim or different strategy. Instead, we're off to see Cowboy Man so he can reset her fronts and give me some feedback on Prairie's feet as well.
When he saw Prairie a month ago, he was really pleased with her feet and only commented that perhaps I could work on her bars a bit. I totally confess that I am terrified to take a knife to the bottom of a foot so I'd like that first session to be supervised. Seems more than prudent.
Fun field trip coming up!