AND ... I finally got to sit on the 4 star horse, woop woop! Granted, the 4* horse was a trail ride followed by 45 minutes of walking, but STILL. My butt sat on a horse bound for the Rolex CCI**** next year. How lucky can a girl get??
So, I'm so thankful for the opportunity just to be able to experience that upper level feel and movement. My old hunter trainer said her daughter didn't get to be the amazing rider she is today by riding the "bad" ones, as so many people say. She got to where she is by having the chance to ride NICE horses, that taught her what a "nice" horse should feel like.
I've been riding lots of ponies; Puffin the puff ball Icelandic, Kiara (not so much since she got purchased. BOO for me, but yay for her new owner!), and Kimmie (the gray Connemara).
When I rode Kimmie, it took me about 5 minutes to get her round, soft, and in front of my leg. The previous 3 times I rode her, I EXHAUSTED myself TRYING to get her forward and round, and achieved maybe half a lap of actually having her engaged and her back up. This last time, it was quick and simple, and she stayed nicely between the hand and the leg for most of my 40 minute ride. The pony Puffin is mostly about WORKING him. He's pretty fat, but he's super athletic. I love to jump him around, and trainer is working with me on doing as little as possible. I tend to want to "help" him by jumping up his neck, and we all know how that works out.
I took a lesson with honorary little sis Nicole on Rusty, and it was super fantastic. I jumped around on a horse I'd never ridden, and it was just NICE to be able to focus mostly on ME, and fixing the myriad of bad habits I've developed over the years. Rusty is another Pluto; an ex upper level horse of trainer's that is now a super lovely lesson horse that I don't get to ride hardly at all b/c she has to use him for her other students! A year ago, I would have politely declined to jump around, focusing instead on flatwork, but I'm finally being brave and going for it!
I rode a SUPER nice older BTDT hunter named Partner last week. He's another big, gray Trakehner, and though he has a bit of a spook to him, it was a lovely lesson. Our first jump was almost enough to zap my confidence b/c he apparently HATES to trot jumps, and it was a horribly awkward and painful jump, but I took a deep breath, pushed back the fallen down brim of my helmet, pushed my heels down, and persevered until I was able to canter back and forth through a line perfectly. He's just BIG, and I don't feel all that comfortable on a BIG horse. Flat, yes. Jump? Not so much. But it ended great, I'm happy. :)
Overall, I'm SO happy with the progress I'm making, and trainer treats me like any other part of the team. I get to ride her 'fancy ponies' (for which she actually THANKED me, what??), I get to ride the nice sale horses, and I have my fun little pony project, which I'm loving. Even though I miss my sweet, sassy little muffin man like crazy, it warms my heart to see him out competing with his new child at N, finishing on his dressage score like a good boy. She's thinking of moving up to T this Fall, and I can't wait to hear all about it! I'm lucky that I can still keep up with him, and I'm lucky the sale worked out and his new home is every bit as good as his old one was :) I am very grateful for the situation I'm in now, and looking forward to continuing to improve and to sit on more fancy ponies :)