Haha, I didn't intend for a week to go by before coming out with the second installment of last week's blog post. I guess fortunately, there wouldn't have been one from this week anyway since it actually decided to RAIN all night long, YAY! That means Jade gets Wed off from me, and I technically could ride at eventing barn since they have an indoor, but I have a bunch of stuff that needs to get done around here, so I'm actually going to stay home today, oh the horrors!
So after leaving HRH Jade, I made my way 45 mins up the road to the eventing barn. After our weekly meeting with a facebook rep, I was allowed to saddle up my adorable little fluffy pony again, Puffin! He is so adorable. He's actually a fun little booger to ride, as well. I spent about 20 minutes with the shedding blade, working to remove some of the great "Spring Shed", then led him to the outdoor were I proceeded to mount using the block. Yep. I used the mounting block for a pony who's back I tower over. In my defense, he is extremely fat with no withers to speak of, so it's more of a step over sort of mounting. Trainer was teaching a lesson while I rode, and didn't have a whole lot to say on the flat with him, which for her is somewhat surprising as she usually can find no less than 5 things at once to correct me on ... while I'm walking! Lol, but Puffin is a kid's pony, so there's really no need to try and do much more than keep him straight, light, and forward as much as possible.
Then she told me to go jump the tiny 18" vertical. OK, no problem. What a cutie! B/c he is so small, I felt the urge to help him by jumping up his neck, so I definitely got my correction handed to me there. Trotted over it a few more times, and much better. I then cantered a pretty tall crossrail; like, the cups were at the equivalent of his belly. He hopped right over, cute as a button! Cantered a pretty big vertical, about 2'3, and it was perfect. His little legs are so short, trainer had to remind me to just wait on him and not get ahead, and I did. Cantered into a line of crossrails, and I just looped the reins and kicked and he was perfect!
I was pretty content at that point to stop and watch (pony was puffing like a train, anyway. Did I mention he's fat and hairy? And it was rapidly approaching 80 degrees?). I was observing trainer's head groom lessoning on a young, green Morgan/TB named Spellbound. I'd ridden him a few months ago, and he's super fun. She was supposed to show him at our schooling show in a few days, so it was jump around time! They were to trot over the liverpool. The liverpool is an actual, 4' wide liverpool, that you fill up with water, not just a tarp or something. There was a tiny amount of water in it, really, it was dry if I'm being completely honest! While trainer lectured her on using her stick and being effective, I just sat, watched, and patted my pony. After a few tries, she was able to successfully trot him over the jump, and I turned to leave the ring.
"Ok Jen, now the pony needs to go jump the liverpool!" Um, are you kidding? I've never jumped an actual liverpool before, especially not on a 13 hand pony! I made some comment about me being a "passive observer" as opposed to an "active participant", but I got my crop ready and trotted up after NOT being allowed to show him the jump. As I expected, he stopped pretty hard core, and ducked left and tried to run off. Trainer tried to block him with her body, but he was in full on run through mode. I had my stick out ... but had neglected to use it. I got yelled at for that, then presented again with another pretty hard stop, but at least this time I used it on his neck, on the left side. Finally, he leaped over. Trotted in again, and he jumped after a slight hesitation, then cantered it a few times and he was perfect. I should have gotten the job done the FIRST time, and not trot in thinking "He's gonna stop". It's probably self defeating.
My second ride (technically 3rd) of the afternoon was Pluto, trainer's former upper level dressage mount. He's now her main lesson horse dude, a real steady eddy, and big enough to accommodate most riders. I hadn't had the chance to ride him yet b/c he normally already has a lesson or 2 scheduled on Wed, but this week I'd gotten lucky. He's one of those horses that will go around like a schoolie for most people, but you can really ride him correctly and he'll become Mr. Dressage King. I was armed with my spurs this time, and went back out to the outdoor after covering myself with is white hair. I spent about 15 minutes trying to figure him out, and was feeling him be really stiff and reluctant to get round for me.
Trainer came out on her horse, and immediately began barking at me to STOP PULLING, and use my legs and seat to get him round. WAY easier said than done! I didn't even REALIZE I was pulling. Nevertheless, she was exactly right and when I put on twice as much leg, and half as much hand, he took a breath, lifted his back, and got on the bit. Amazing. Subtle is the way to get results, NOT try to pull him into a frame. After about 30 minutes, I'd gotten some pretty decent walk/trot. What was nice is for my canter work, the only correction I got was to lighten my seat a hair because I had him so collected he threw a few tempi changes for me in the beginning. After that, I was ok enough that trainer focused on her on ride while I finished up.
What a teacher! Pluto knows more than I probably EVER will, and taught me so much about how a big guy doesn't need muscle to get the most out of him. He gave me so much awareness of my body, and how light one must be in order to achieve true dressage harmony.
I spent Sunday at the barn volunteering at our first schooling show of the season. It was a CT, with extra showjumping and dressage tests thrown in. Super fun! I spent all day, doing a little score running, some score calculations, and a lot of filming. SO thankful to have found this barn, I'm learning more now than I have in the last 15 years.