(skip down to the first picture if you're less interested in rambling and would prefer to see a crappy phone vid of P2 jumping...)
A late morning meeting got canceled so while I thought I was 15 minutes ahead of schedule getting to the barn to hitch up, S quickly ran up to my truck and informed me that while getting something out of the back of her car, one of her dogs stomped on the "lock" button and locked her keys in her car.
With her dogs.
No windows cracked.
We clearly weren't going anywhere until we freed her doggies so she scurried off to ask one of the barn guys if they could help. I'm not sure how she phrased it but I think they took her question to mean if they had "experience" breaking into cars and were mildly offended. whoops.
Anyway, we grabbed a crowbar from the shop and the stiffest wire we could and managed to pry the window enough to snake the wire down. Of course a wiggly, wobbly wire was just about the most excited thing her dogs could imagine (italian greyhounds) and they were not exactly helpful in the process.
Twenty minutes into the wire wiggling process I was starting to feel like we weren't getting anywhere and we were quickly becoming a laughing stock for the (large) construction crew that was 20 feet away and working on rebuilding the new farmhouse. Seriously. 20 dudes, and not one had a better idea/tool/strategy than watching me and S struggle with a crappy piece of tie wire.
After determining that the wire was too soft to "press" the button, we were literally at the point of affixing cheese to said wire and trying to coax the dogs into hitting the unlock button themselves, when one of the guys came up with a yard stick shoved it in the window and saved the day.
Thirty minutes behind schedule we got the mare shoved in the trailer and hit the road. The trainer we were meeting wasn't too concerned about timing aside from trying to get our school in before the jumps got put up too high, which was not something I was worried about. I was more worried about hauling an hour, sneaking into the warm up rings, hauling back an hour and making it to the barn for Gus' delayed spa-pedi.
Anyway, we got to the show grounds, parked inconspicuously in the back and snaked through the barns till we found our set up. Prairie was super quiet (like she usually is when she hauls alone) and didn't seemed phased by the hustle and bustle.
However she was not excited about the grooming stalls that were set up. She snorted and sniffed and refused to go in. when we finally did go in she looked like a cat getting a bath and was clearly not impressed with the situation whatsoever.
Much to my surprise though, the mare happily splashed through puddles and warmed up really nicely. If I didn't know the her, I'd assume she was 100% relaxed and swinging. But I do know the mare and I could see the occasional heavy checks to bring her back a bit.
I was super pleased with how Prair handled to traffic (everything form bucking broncos to zooming ponies) and she didn't seem overly distracted or spooky at all.
Over fences she wanted to rush a little bit, but once S started adding in the lines she came back and was great. Trainer lady has S start to think about moving up to the fences then adding for a deeper distance 3 strides out. My personal tendency is to just hold, hold, hold which results in a tiny, underpowered crappy canter and usually an even crappier distance. S suffers from that plague way less than I do, but until recently Prair wasn't very trustworthy jumping out of a bigger stride or longer distance... so it's a mental adjustment for us both.
The result of asking Prairie to move up and then back was a much rounder, softer, loftier jump. Dare I say she looked like a real hunter.
After about 20 minutes we headed for the big indoor where fences had been set to 3'3". The arena was pretty crowded. Probably six horses and ten big, well filled jumps. Prairie breathed a little fire walking in but settled well. I was certain the big spooky ring would freak her out but she stayed fairly manageable. The only time she wanted to scoot a bit was sneaking between jumps and the rail which I think was more of a claustrophobic response than anything. She was delightfully not affected by the traffic or horses freaking out around her.
S popped over some easy courses adding in the lines to get a tighter distance with ease. Dare I say that Prair almost looked like a big kid hunter. I was so hypnotized that I nearly forgot to snag any video but I finally came to right at the end of the ride and snagged a couple of clips.
First video is an outside line and diagonal. Fairly consistent aside from accidentally adding two in the last line instead of just one. Never would I have thought that would have been a problem we would have.. lol
They popped back through the diagonal one more time (only adding one stride) and called it a day.
I was super pleased with the ride and Prair finished calm and relaxed. At least five people approached me about the mare asking everything from "where did she come from" "who is that" and "is she for sale."
I still feel like we have a bit of polish to add before we make the step up to the A's but Prairie looked like she belonged and like she might actually hold her own - which was super encouraging and very rewarding to see.
When I think about how we were struggling with canter departs this time last year it's incredible to see how far she's come and how much more balanced and connected she is...