Of course as soon as I started lamenting the fact that Prair and I haven't so much as peeked down the center line, let alone trot down it, I refreshed my search for little baby schooling shows and found one lone, last possible event that we could sneak in next weekend.
We actually tried to go to this schooling show last year, but wildfires were horrible and the air quality was so poor that the event got canceled. It just so happens that their show (scheduled for this Saturday) was still open for entries so without much thought I popped a form in the mail and committed myself to First Level 2 and a Prix Caprilli test for funsies. I did just email the organizer because when I google "Prix Caprilli Test 1" I get about six different tests all with that title... So um yeah. I need help there. For those who haven't seen one, here's one example of a Prix Cap test.
I'm pretty sure we'll just be going over cross rails, but I just love the concept of having fences incorporated into a dressage test. I guess in theory Hunters is judging your rhythm, form, relaxation, etc so it's not dissimilar from that, but fun, yes no?
Saturday, I got a text from S that Prair was a complete and total moron under saddle. Spooky, tense, rushed, nothing productive. She apparently followed that up by running like a lunatic in her pasture until she was lathered in sweat which was then followed up by behaving like an idiot in the wash stall (washing off said lather) and whacking her head into an overhead beam.
That apparently quieted the gerbils but WOW. We couldn't actually remember the last time she behaved like that (at home anyway), which is a testament to how far she's come. Maybe she's in heat? who knows.
I do know that when I tacked up on Sunday for my lesson there was no hint of the marewolf behaviors. Prair stood nicely, snoozed while I groomed her and we had an epically lovely ride.
S had one vertical set up at X on the center line. We worked on our straightness to/over/after the jump as well as our changes - specifically more straightness while getting them... then turning.
We jumped out of our collected, working, and lengthened canters all without stress or rushing and figure-eighting back and forth. I do think Prair is more confident through the turns in her hind shoes, I felt like I could carry significantly more pace through the turns than before. In fact I had to concentrate on not holding her back to our previous "skid out" point and letting her still power through and use her butt like she should.
There was one magical jump where we were in our "big" canter, heading home, I took a long spot (previous cringe worthy moment), we landed, I asked for our tricky change to the right lead... we got it, rebalanced for the corned and worked around it without any fuss or motorcycling or anything.
Pretty much every aspect of that ride was a no-go for us last year. No large step to fences, long spots were suicide, jumping home was a disaster and there was no such thing as a lead change or a balanced corner after a fence.
It was such a tangible improvement I was thrilled. The whole ride was just enjoyable. Plenty to school and focus and work on, but none of it felt potentially explosive or tense. It was a pretty perfect Saturday afternoon at the barn.
Other updates include poor Gus. Gus was slated for his normal acupuncture on Friday, but he jogged out significantly more lame than he usually is. S reported he was better than normal or normal (for gus) in his lessons during the week, so the lameness was new and unexplained. My vet spent the better part of an hour working with us, we did a gazillion blocks on the leg starting low and working our way up first block laterally, then blocking medially. Nothing gave us a conclusive "ah ha" insight, and while there were moments where Gus would jog almost sound, if we repeated it the head bobbing would return.
He's since improved (yesterday he was almost normal for Gus), but I've decided to spend some cash and get a really good ultrasonographer to take a peek at his problem leg. Our only hint of what's going on is a report from a vet (who I don't love) who did an ultrasound on him almost two years ago. I think it's time for fresh pictures and a better understanding of what his structures look like. I'm also very curious if we're dealing with old lesions and old scar tissue or if it looks like any recent damage is being done...
So that's our week. Prair and I are going to see if we can still wear dressage outfits. Gus gets a photoshoot (of sorts) and we will do our best to enjoy the waning weeks of summer...