Well, it hasn't been TERRIBLY exciting in the land of riding ... CA has actually had RAIN which means that Jade's barn has been out. Not to mention the fact that my back has been feeling HORRIBLE. I've needed a chiro ever since I came to CA, but there were several problems with that. The first being a lack of $$, and the 2nd being the fact that chiros are hard to find. You have no idea if one will work for you until you try them out, but since they have the ability to seriously mess you up, it tends to scare you off from trying.
Anyway, I took the plunge, ponied up the money, and got my back all fixed up, so at least that part's taken care of! Last week, I only rode at eventing barn, and I got to ride my precious Kiara again. She is the best, I just LOVE her! If I was in a position to buy something, she would be mine in a heartbeat. Rode in the dressage tack, and she felt wonderful. Trainer's assistant was in the ring with me, and she gave me a few tips with her that worked great. She feels a little bit stiff through the bridle normally, and last week she felt so much more adjustable and soft. I'm feeling so much better with sitting back and being in a correct dressage seat; trainer's finally rubbing off on me :)
Today I rode Jade first and had made the decision to put her in my ghetto draw reins. At first I thought she wasn't a good candidate for draw reins because she can get behind the bit when she wants to. But something I've noticed is eventing trainer has put every single horse in her training program in some type of gadget some of the time. Often, they're ridden "naked", but often they have SOMETHING to help with head set. These horses are hands down the most consistent, correct, and pleasant horses I've ever sat on, so the gadgets obviously do some good (when I've ridden, they've all been naked).
Jade hasn't been ridden much in the last few weeks; S went on vacation, my back wimped out, and the rains fell, so I was prepared for battle today. Good thing, because she was in the mood to pick a fight! Let me just say ... the draw reins worked GREAT! As per usual, I kept them on the loose side warming up, but even when I tightened them up slightly, I did NOT use them to 'pull' her head down. She goes with her head down; the problem I have with her is she will blow through the contact and completely lose her connection. Today, we kept the connection. She was quite mareish today, squealing to her friends in protest of work. I could feel her tenseness, and I KNOW she would have blown up several times. She tried to violently fling her head and pitch a fit, but I kept my leg on, maintained the contact, and she had to settle in. A few times she tried to slam on the breaks and not go forward, so I loosened up and pushed her forward. It only took about 10 minutes for her to actually settle in super :) She's smart enough to know when she's fighting a losing battle, so she really hunkered down and worked hard. Yes, she still tried to fling the head. Yes, she still felt a tad explosive, and she hollered during the entire ride, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
Our biggest issue jumping so far has been keeping straight. It's worse tracking left; she blows off my right leg and pops that right shoulder and drags me to the rail. When jumping she will try to pop that right shoulder and drift, so I had set a small crossrail with a takeoff/landing chute set with poles. It was 100% uneventful! I trotted her back and forth 4 times and she was absolutely perfect every time, so I left that alone!
I then decided to push my luck and work the canter ... left lead. I had SEVERAL very good transitions. She tried to do the violent head fling, but she couldn't, so then she tried to blow my right leg and drag me,so I counter bent her, and then she just STOPPED. I got after her REALLY good with my right leg and made her move off it. I then got a great transition and she cantered nicely, so I praised her and reversed. Cantered off on the right lead and she gave me the nicest, softest, and most perfect canter I've ever gotten from her. Held it for about half a lap, got a perfect downward transition, and let her be finished. Good girl!
Today, I rode the smallest pony I've sat on since I was about 17. I'd be shocked if he's an inch over 13.2; a little chestnut roly-poly thing that's as wide as he is tall named Puffin. What a sweetie! He's a former lesson horse from trainer's old Napa barn, and they're looking to sell him as a kid's pony, but apparently he's developed some stinky pony moves. Maybe I just got lucky, but he was absolutely perfect for me :) The only thing I noticed about him that's different than every other horse of hers I've ridden is that he was VERY stiff in the neck; totally typical schoolie feel. I did lots and lots of bends and changes of direction, circles, etc. He's surprisingly responsive to the leg; I didn't wear spurs and even though I carried my crop, he was great. He leg yields well, and he did try to bend when I asked him for it. He has a perfect little canter button, and I had no trouble whatsoever with him. Yet another great ride at the eventing barn!
So, all is good in horsey land! There is a combined test schooling show next Sunday I'm volunteering at; maybe the next one I can actually ride in it :) The spring weather and the time change has been so amazing. CA has the most perfect weather, I just LOVE it!