Well, it's good to be back. I LOVE cruises, but it's always nice to be back in the land of decent sized showers ... and soft beds ... and cellphone/internet access! Today is our first day home, and so far have spent it getting the house picked up, clothes washed, and going to collect our fuzzy dogs and sugar glider. The dogs are so glad to be home, lol! What a ruckus. Haven't been to the barn yet; it's been pop up thunderstorms and rain showers so far today. Will go out tomorrow and ride a few and clean some stalls. Won't be riding Tiki; my friend Nicole hopped on him for me Wednesday, and reported that he has a missing shoe ... that won't be replaced until Tuesday:( So, he gets an extra day off!
Well, all I have to report is my final ride before leaving out Friday. Thursday, I set up some gymnastics. I had wanted a few oxers, but we just don't have but 3 sets of standards; so a few oxers is literally that; 2. Ended up doing quiet 1 strides as well, rather than 2 strides. I set a trot pole to a crossrail; 1 stride to the cav stack, low; 1 stride to a plain vertical; 1 stride to the barrel vertical (the barrel is SORT of an oxer, right??). The cav stack when it's low is about 2'3. Set the vert and the barrel at 2'6. He warmed up great, felt very soft and forward in my hand. I was carrying my crop, STILL trying to just get comfortable with it again. Worked some lovely transitions, and purposely avoided letting him get too close to the gymnastics. Cantered a pole to warm up, then trotted into the gymnastic stone cold; didn't let him look at it at all first. Yeah, no. As he trotted into the crossrail, he sucked back majorly. Rather than USE MY CROP, I sort of froze and held on. Jumped UP over the crossrail, and was so far away from the stack, it was sheerly self preservation that he ran out. I did use my crop at that point, for the runout. Gave in, and stood him in front of the crossrail ... then the stack ... then the vert. Gave him another pop behind my leg before coming in again. This one was better. He still backed off a little coming in, but I used my spur, clucked, and he clocked through no problem. Did it twice more, turning right then left afterwards, and it was perfect.
Hopped off and raised to barrel to 3', and the vert to 2'9. Came through again, and he knocked down the vert, but jumped out nicely over the barrel. Reset the jump, then came through twice more, REALLY concentrating on MY position, and me helping him as much as possible. Those 2 times felt GREAT. The distances were perfect; just a teeny bit tight to help him rock back and really rotate his shoulder and use his back. It was hot, and he felt a little tired, but I'd had a plan and I was determined to stick to it. Raised the barrel to 3'6, and the vert to 3'3, and the stack to 3'. I was a little nervous about the height hike so abruptly, but it was too hot and too hard to go more gradually. Took a deep breath, very gently tapped with the crop , and trotted in. Crossrail (perfect), closed my leg to stack (perfect), clucked and leg to vert (perfect), clucked again and REALLY closed my leg to barrel (perfect). He cracked his back pretty hard over the barrel; it was scary with all that daylight between the barrel and the pole, lol! Now, the famous one. more. time. Any of y'all know that have been reading my blog from the beginning know that it's the one. more. time. that always gets me. I've quit before on him going through perfect once, but I felt strongly that I wanted to reinforce and go through again now that he's gained some experience and some maturity. Of course, it wasn't perfect.
Crossrail (perfect), stack (little left drift), vert (BIG left drift), runout at barrel. This is where eyes on the ground would have helped. If I'd corrected him at the stack, all would have been fine. Since I was focused on helping him and staying out of his way, I missed the drift until it was too late. Gave 3 good smacks behind my left leg, and came through with more support this time. Felt a little hesitation at the vert, so I clucked hard, sat UP, and used my spur. Grabbed a BIG handfull of mane with the left hand, and he went. Jumped the SNOT out of the barrel, WOW. If I hadn't had my stirrups tied to the girth, I would have probably gotten seriously jumped out of the tack, haha! Overall, it did feel pretty good, so I let him quit. That was definitely the hardest gymnastic he's ever done; and the 2 strides probably would have been easier, but the quiet one really made him use himself and work hard. I was very proud; he was GREAT. Gave him a bath and a kiss, and now I'm just waiting to see him tomorrow! Jeff Cook clinic in 2 weeks and counting (YIKES)!