Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Love this Cali riding weather!
If there's any type of "perfect" riding weather out there, Northern California is certainly it! I have been very pleased with Ms. Mare the past few times I've ridden her. There was ONE day where if I hadn't slapped on my neck strap b/c I thought I was going to jump her around 3', she literally would have spooked/spun me off multiple times, but that day seems to have been an anomaly, thank goodness. A few weeks ago, she flatted up nicely and when I hopped her over the "wingless" box/gate/pole jump that was just ONE section higher than what she'd jumped before, that girl literally almost jumped me right off her back! She was about a foot over the 3' box, TWISTED in the air, AND drifted left about a foot, all at the same time. Whoa. Lol. I bravely tried it a few more times, and it was pretty bad every time, so lowered it back down the one level and she was fine. Silly girl!
Today was the first day she'd been ridden in a week, as it's actually RAINED (yay) in Nor Cal. The ring was still super wet, so I set up 3 9' canter poles up one long side, and set a single 2'6 vertical on the opposite long side. On the vertical, I laid poles ON the rail, framing out a chute on both sides. My goal was just to work on straight and simple today. She again flatted up really nicely. I did NOT put her in the roundpen, despite S's suggestion I do so. I could tell her frame of mind was pretty workmanlike as I tacked her up, so I "risked" it!
I didn't wear spurs today, and honestly I felt like I needed them! She was pretty quiet. Honestly, when I started out, she felt just a little short strided. She warmed up well, though, and I focused on lots of big loopy circles and lots of direction changes. I focused on feeling her stay straight from her hips thru her shoulders, and tried to work on keeping a nice consistent rhythm, especially over the poles. She was focused well. When I jumped the vertical, I just trotted over it, and halted straight. Sometimes I went over the poles, sometimes I didn't. When I cantered the vertical off the right lead, she was super! I cantered thru the 9' poles a few times, and she did great there. The problems began/ended off the left lead going over the vertical. That jump is set in her "booger" spot where she likes to hop and drag right, both before and after the jump. Sometimes she's so awful there, I can't even GET her to the jump because she's cantering sideways to the right.
Today I had a little bit of an epiphany, and when she began to fall right, I took it down a level. In the past, I may either leave that area, or get mad and start "beating her up" with my leg, or bridging my reins and trying to just out-muscle her (and we know how well THAT works!) Today, I just took a step back, and trotted her in a big circle. I could FEEL when she stiffened the jaw, bulged the shoulder, and began to drag. I kept my cool, and I worked SUPER hard to connect to that right rein, NOT forcing her, NOT kicking with my outside leg, just gentle, patient circling. I tried it at a canter when the trot felt good, and that was a bad, no go. I went back to trot, cantering SOME of the circle, back to trot, over and over until she just DID it. I then came out of the circle to the jump; she was quiet, she landed and tracked dead straight, halted well. What a good girl! I was very happy with her; I was pretty pleased with me, too :)
At eventing barn, I've been riding Kiara! I hadn't ridden her since her new owners took ownership, but it's working out that neither one could ride on Tues/Wed/Thurs for the time being, so I've gotten to ride her! I LOVE her, I've been having a GREAT time sitting on her ... I feel as at home on her as I do on Tiki :D She's just flat out awesome. Love my riding time!