So, Alanna of Pony Expressdid this a few weeks ago, and the second I saw her video I knew I had to try it for myself. I procured some jingle bells, and on the first day I tried – a picturesque snowy day in which I intended to try outside with maximum mood – I got into a small car accident on the way to the barn. Sigh.
The next day, I was determined. I warmed him up, then did a little desensitizing – mostly shook them in his face and then praised him for getting a touch bug-eyed but not actually spooky – and then away we went! He did so great. He was even forward. (Though, obviously, more tense than I would like for a proper dressage ride.) The barn manager was watching and decreed I have to ride with them for the next few weeks. I might just do that! I was grinning ear to ear the whole time. I had forgotten how much fun it was to do something silly and new. I love this horse so much.
I kind of lost track of time while shopping and only saw the second half of Phillip Dutton’s clinic on using ringwork to prepare for cross country, but what I saw was really terrific.
I had sat through nearly all of Julie Goodnight’s clinic earlier that day on the canter, and was really disappointed at the amount of time she spent covering extreme basics (like…what a canter looks like, and how you have a right and left lead, and how to cue the canter. yeah. that was the first HOUR) so I was thrilled to see that Dutton had a group of extremely capable riders and was kicking their butts.
He worked with individual riders, setting up broad exercises but then addressing each horse and rider pair’s challenges as they worked through it. These were NOT easy exercises – think one stride extreme slices, and one stride right angles, and big wide corners. He had them up and out of their saddles and in a true cross-country gallop to approach some jumps. It was really cool to see, and to see the riders and the horses improve in just a few minutes.
Okay, I’ll confess. I haven’t watched Downton Abbey since the second-to-last episode of season 3, allowing me to preserve the illusion that a certain favorite character is alive and well and happily where he belongs. At one time I was as rabid a fan as it gets. Season 1 got me through my master’s thesis: for every 10 pages written, I got to watch an episode.
So when I heard that season 5 featured Lady Mary Crawley riding in a point to point race…! Well. I scoured the internet for footage, and found this lovely little video. Enjoy!
Still in Maine (have to talk the florist out of $5k of exotic flowers today, gulp) but the barn manager sent me some awesome videos.
Tristan is the barn’s default babysitter, and is currently teaching a yearling by UB-40 manners. It’s below zero and the turnouts are a solid sheet of ice, so they’re getting short turnouts in the indoor. The barn manager is letting them run around a little as long as Tristan doesn’t go overboard, and as you can see, he’s feeling much better!
So there I am, on my fourth piece of banana bread and third cup of tea of the day (don’t judge) and I’m taking a short mental break. I click on this video, because I love the Stuff Riders Say series. This should be good, right?
So I know it’s almost July, but let’s review my June goal:
Unfortunately I already know that most of June will be a wasteland due to a massive work event at the end of the month. The goal for this month is to keep my head above water: stick to a schedule and keep him fit.
Possible events for riding or volunteering: East Hill Farm Schooling Dressage (no dates yet), Vermont Morgan Heritage Days (June 14-15)
I was right. June was a total timesuck, wasteland, minefield – pick your metaphor. I got maybe a half dozen rides in the entire month.
The good news? Putting him into training for that month was one of the best horse-related decisions I’ve ever made. Hurrah and huzzah for that! He kept in work and fitness, and not only that, he made huge, HUGE improvements.
In fact, I have proof. I was able to get out last night to watch the last of his training rides and I have two short videos: the first of his first canter stretch during warmup, the second of a canter further along in the ride that shows some of what his next step is: more sit, more lift through the shoulders.
Finally, I saw this note and had to laugh. Only in Vermont would we still be worried about it being below 50 overnight. (I camped for most of last week for my work event, and on Friday night it was 38 degrees. Yep. You read that right. SO COLD.)
Here’s to more horse riding and blogging for the rest of 2014!