Last week (before I escaped to the East Coast for a few days) I snuck in a quick field trip with S for our semi-monthly lessons at another farm. I opted to have S ride Prair and I took Gus (GUS!) for my own lesson. I cannot even begin to tell you how flipping cute the two black beasts look next to each other in the trailer. But I guess I have to tell you since I totally failed to take pictures
They looked cute. Real Cute.
Anyway, both the kids hauled great, Gus got to steal some hay out of a borrowed stall while S and Prairie had their go and I watched as much as I could before tacking up.
S and Prair looked amazing. When I think back to October when we first started hauling to this place for lessons, we were struggling (hard) with trot/canter transitions. Which made it all the more fabulous to watch the pair float around the ring, wither balloons fully inflated in a soft, relaxed frame.
They did get drilled hard on a few things and we picked up some nice exercises That Prairie seemed to enjoy. The first was on the flat, 20m circle at the trot with a counter bend. When Prair softens (nicely), she gets to straighten and lengthen her frame and stride for a circle, then shorten back up for more counterbend. The counterbend helped unlock her jaw and neck, but the combo with the long/low/long when she was good really loosened up her back and got her working over it nicely.
Over fences my favorite little takeaway was putting a pole out two strides after a fence. The goal was to lighten Prairie's landings a bit, but the traditional placing pole one stride out seemed to rush Prair a bit and make her frantic. Two strides out seemed to be less claustrophobic for her, but still asked her to sit back a touch and lift.
It got even more interesting as we condensed the pole to a short-two-strides. Brilliant.
As for me I pulled The Gus out and got him all ready. He was (obviously) adorable and drew rave reviews from the much fancier Hunters in the barn. I mitigated their compliments with explanations of his chronic injuries but Gus was happy to accept the praise without contingencies.
Since we didn't want to beat up on Gus too much, the lesson just beat up on me. I know S has been working in some Eq fixes but omg. I'm pretty sure George Morris possessed the body of our cute little instructor for that hour because holy hell. I nearly died.
Aside from the first few minutes I never had my stirrups. At a few points I had a stirrup (one, singular, uno) but never both. I was stirrup-less and riding with one hand pretty much the entire time. The other hand was (clearly) behind my back. Naturally. why not!?
Gus was a good boy and tolerated my fumbling and bumbling and not so subtle curses from his back with grace. I did push him out into a more forward stride than he typically gets to go in, but it seemed to work well. He seemed more even and more comfortable with a bit more RPM's in his motor.
I was far from even or comfortable, but we worked on some nit-picky equitation stuff that was valuable and helpful for me getting my seat back. What I wouldn't give for the position I had when I was 14...
It was a fun (if painful) outing and we all piled back into the truck/trailer a bit sweatier and a lot less energetic than we had come.
There's another B show this weekend at our favorite schooling grounds so I think Prair is going back to defend her Pre-Green crown. I was going to take Gus and put in a flat class on him and let one of S's students take him in the Walk/Trot but we ended up deciding to give him a bit more time just hacking around home and get another trim in on his feet first.
I will also be riding Prair, it's just unclear if I'll take her in the Adult division on Sat, or do the Modified or Pre-Adult division on Sunday. If Prair is a super good girl for S in her Pre-Greens I don't want to run her into the ground with another 3' division... so I might just hold off till Sunday...
Mostly though lots of S's younger students are going and so we'll have a serious contingency in the walk/trot and cross-pole divisions. Cannot Wait. So adorable.