Saturday Supermom came up for a visit which means two things 1) I had an excuse to go to my favorite mexican place on a lunch date and 2) I actually have some new pictures of Miss Pia. Both are very exciting things.
I started the morning on P1, who - as promised is being great under saddle. Aside from feeling like a small pony and me posting a million miles an hour, she was super enjoyable to ride. She was forward, incredibly light in the bridle and very positive about her lateral work and canter work. I've gotten so used to deliberately steering Prairie around every turn and every corner that it is a nice surprise to get on something smaller and feel like she's an agile little moped instead of a big bendy-bus.
|P1 - back in action|
Then, we put P1 away and grabbed P2. S was going to hop on first and work on some flying changes since I had struggled with them a bit the day before in my lesson. But there was another horse in the ring which is all it takes to make Prairie a bit tense, which in turn is all it takes to make nailing her changes nearly impossible. Prair really tried though, and when I got on she was still focused and willing to trot around for a few minutes before I excused myself in the name of fajitas.
Sunday was our excursion to a H/J barn about an hour north for one of their schooling days. The idea was that a full course would be set up and for $25 you had the privilege of some warm up time and four rounds over some nice jumps in a new location.
Prairie walked off the trailer totally quiet and fabulously, which continues to reinforce the benefits of hauling her alone - she relies on me for moral support as opposed to her trailer mate whom she inevitably bonds with during the ride... We checked in, tacked up and went to go wait for our turn in the ring.
But - to the mare's credit she held it together and while I could feel scoots brewing, she never actually squirreled out from underneath me (bit improvement).
When the other group cleared out we cantered around briefly in both directions then got to work. After 5 minutes I felt Prairie soften and relax and I felt the brain gerbils settle down for a nap. We popped over a few warm up fences on a figure eight and I was pleased to see that not only was Prairie not scooting off after each fence, but she was calm enough that I could soften in every sense of the word about 3 strides out from each fence. That's something that has just started happening at home - and I was over the moon that we were able to carry it forward in a new place.
S quickly put a course together for us, raised the top rails back up to about 2'6"-3' and off we went.
- Prairie got her leads over the fences 80% of the time
- When she missed her leads, she offered a change about 40% of the time
- When we nailed our distance Prairie stayed in a super steady rhythm before and after each fence
- When I buried her to a fence she still (happily) popped over it
- When we left long, instead of a rage-blackout-scoot, we were just a little unbalanced and could recover without a halt.
- For the first time I felt Prairie "lock on" to jumps as we approached. So cool.
- I felt Prairie back off to a couple jumps the first time we took them, but just a hint of leg and she was forward and honest over them
- There were no scoots but we were hardly in a relaxed, easy hunter frame - there's still some tension
- for some reason when we're inside a line Prairie gets REALLY wiggly like she's trying to figure out what's going on, I need to support her more
- In an attempt to keep her packaged, I felt myself fall back on hold-hold-holding her to the base which resulted in a few jumps from a near stand still as I added multiple strides before takeoff...
- My equitation is less than stunning, though I will argue that it's moderately effective in the sense that I kept Prairie balanced and contained, didn't get jumped out of the tack or jab the mare in her mouth.
All in all I was thrilled with our progress. We got around the courses much smoother than our last show in October, and I can tell that Prairie's balance and use of her body is totally new and improved. Mostly I could tell the mare was enjoying herself instead of totally just stressing out - and that made it a really rewarding ride.
Poor S was trying to coach me while taking some video, which makes for less than perfect, already crappy iphone video, but at least there's some record:
I think I could summarize it by saying that I would have been thrilled with our ride if we were at home - so to be able to say that about an outing to a totally new facility with a lot of distracting sights and sounds is awesome.
Our leads still aren't there, but they'll come - and when they do - watch out Working Hunters we're going to blow it up.
The only sub par aspect of the weekend was spending a couple hours picking Scratches off both mares' hind legs. Ew and Gross is all I can say, but we live in Washington and there is mud for days in Washington and I won't coop horses up in stalls