Today I actually pulled out the jump tack for the first time since the June show.. well, not my jump tack since the CWD is still lost in cyber-saddle-space, but Jump Tack nonetheless.
The temp was a tolerable 82 and I spent all morning hydrating and telling myself that people run marathons in about a million times worse weather so I needed to suck it up.
Turns out I felt fine about the sun, but Prairie did not get the memo. She was pretty sure that her 2 week vacay was supposed to be the start of summer vacation and not a brief hiatus before going back to work.
In spite of her extremely grumpy mare face she looked dashingly adorable in her new purple pad.
She warmed up great. Lazy, but great. I opted to leave my spurs off and try to just use my leg like a real human which was made all the more challenging by Prair's feigned heatstroke.
S set a 6 stride line and we started cantering over the poles fluctuating between a going 6 or a holding 7. Prair was pretty gosh darn adjustable. Slightly more forward heading home, but all in all as responsive as she's ever been with a big, long outside line.
Eventually the poles turned into cross rails and we worked both leads again alternating between the 6 strides and holding for 7. I was having more issues than normal trying to keep her super straight inside the line which was a little frustrating. I tried counter bend, I tried a deeper track, and shallower track, opening reins, everything. Still the mare was just wiggly. Sometimes I think her wiggles come from me holding her face and her energy having to sort of squirt out the side, but today I felt like (most of the time) I was able to soften and release nicely on both sides of the fences.
Finally we made little baby courses out of the line. Something like, asking for 6 strides going away, then rolling back to the first X, then around the whole ring and asking for 7 strides coming home and rolling back again to the far fence.
Easy stuff, but still really made me get the mare back and focus her for each line or rollback.
Our biggest challenge was trying to hold our lead in the rollbacks and not swap before the fence. Prair is getting so much better at her changes (so, so, so much better) that she is wanted to anticipate and as soon as she crosses a diagonal line she offers the change and even fights a counter canter.
I don't want to get after her for offering the changes, but I do want her to listen! This means if I roll back on the left lead and am holding a left bend with her haunches OUT, I do not want her to get all pogo-sticky and swap to the right lead until after the fence.
Things were better when I really sat down and clarified that I was trying to hold a lead as opposed to just hinting at it and staying up out of the tack.
By the end Prair was a little more tuned in and not trying to fight me on the issue which was good enough to quit on for me.
It was a great lesson. I felt like the exercise was productive, Prair was... not perfect but very rideable and very trainable and the sunshine didn't melt me into a puddle. Not much more to ask for other than that!
Sadly I'm gone for the next few days over the 4th, but it's probably good for S to get a few rides back on the mare anyway. We'll be home in time to play some more this weekend.
Also, the results of the Boot-Shopping-Spree should be arriving by Friday as well. Get ready for some serious tack 'ho comparisons!