Monday, 31 August 2015

Loving Your Job

The past few years have brought me a large number of transitions due to career choices. Previous to this blog, I had been working long term in forestry. I got entirely burnt out and embraced the layoffs when they came. I got a job at a barn, and went back to university in the afternoons to add a bunch of tech courses to the forestry ones. After two years of that, it was time to start working in my sorta-new field. That's when I started this blog and spent 3 or 4 years of my life travelling around, taking whatever work and contracts I could find that I felt would add to the resume. I had to put the horses on the back burner at times, but I wouldn't trade any of it. I'm happy with where all that hard work has got me and feel all the sacrifices were worth it.

Ginger left for the trainer's last week in preparation for her new job. She was apparently a good girl for the trip, and I think will enjoy being back in full time work with some defined expectations. I was home this past weekend for a visit and that's when it really hit me that I can't just drive over to the barn and visit her anymore. It's a bit of a tough adjustment, and she is on my mind all the time. Fingers crossed she finds her perfect person and job soon. Maybe then I will stop worrying about her quite so much :)

As mentioned, Bridget and I are going through a bit of a rough patch. As I've also mentioned numerous times, I didn't buy her to be the next big dressage/eventing pony so I shouldn't mind that things aren't working out perfectly. I have a ton of work to do myself and it's not like we are in a rush to be anywhere. In the back of my mind though of course I am wondering how to tell if she's really unhappy and not suited to her current work, or whether we're just going through a bit more baby pony drama/rider inadequacies. I look around the barn at all the horses that obviously love their jobs and it makes me feel a little depressed and wonder whether I am really doing right by Bridget. She's a pretty quiet and stoic little thing, so it's hard to tell what she's thinking half the time (besides wanting to avoid any sort of physical exertion, of course ;)


Anyone else gone through something similar? How did you tell whether your horse was suited for and happy in their work?






Friday, 28 August 2015

Blah

I had a not so bad ride Wednesday night. Bridget was thinking forward and although a little too heavy in the contact and hauling me around a bit, it was a refreshing change from our usual status quo of looking for any opportunity to stop. I finished off with some baby gymnastic grids, which were a mistake because they were increasingly super wiggly. Pony cares not about my increasingly direct rein aids or my spur meeting her side, the call of the arena wall is simply too strong to resist.

Last night, my goal was to work on straightness. I had lost some of the forward from the previous night so it was a pretty difficult proposition. My Monday night lesson mate was riding as well and wanted to practice running through our dressage tests for the show. They're just the entry level eventing tests and are simple enough. Walk, trot, canter, and some 20m circles in trot and canter. Since we had to dismantle some jumps and mark out an arena, it took a little time to get set up. Midge decided that time standing meant she was done and she was less than impressed to go back to work. Cue epic pony meltdown. Can't turn, can't go forward. Run into the wall rather than go where I ask. This is the side of Bridget that I find very frustrating - she knows that she's bigger than her rider and can basically ignore them if she so chooses. She's unfortunately learned running her rider into the wall/gate/misc objects in the arena makes them stop pressuring her to do things that are 'hard', even if it's only for a stride or two. Smart, yet evil. She's undeterred by spurs or crop or your increasing frustration when she's in a mood. She's lucky she's cute and that the naughty pony card is getting pulled less frequently these days.

Still, it's never a good thing when we are in disagreement so often, and I'm going to shell out some extra dollars for some trainer rides and possibly a one day a week ride on one of the more advanced horses. Previously when I asked EC her response was essentially that I'm doing just fine riding Bridget myself, and that I need to be patient, but I'm admittedly losing patience and don't want to get to the point where it's not fun. I think it will be a good thing for the both of us to have someone else ride once a week. Bridget can learn that others will have the same expectations of her, and I can have a little mental time out while someone else with a full patience bank rides the baby pony struggle bus.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Feeling Alright

Sorry for the mini absence! I took a few vacation days to spend some time at home with G in the sunshine. It was wonderful, and much needed, although I'm pretty sure we ate about 10lbs of fresh salsa from the garden. Of course that was consumed with multiple tortilla chips, and I likely won't need to eat for the rest of the week :) The only less than great part of my week away was getting Ginger packed up for her big adventure and saying good bye to the best barn owners in the world. I won't lie, more than a few tears were shed! Life moves on and I know I'm making the best decisions I can, I just maybe don't like those decisions all that much!
Bridget has been busy eating all the things on her vacation too.
 Last night, I took the late ferry back to the area I work in, and then was up early this morning to do my morning of chores at the barn. I'm a bit of a zombie today. Bridget, however, seems to have enjoyed her time off and looks ready to go! She was galloping around this morning, bucking and rearing and doing pirouettes on her hind legs. Maybe I will have a fun ride tonight?

It's a bad angle (seriously ;) but one week off and it looks like she's gained 100 pounds lol
T minus 2 weeks until show day, we'd better get back to work!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Super Fun!

Jumping lesson Monday night! I'm still somewhat in disbelief...Bridget and I were in an actual jumping lesson?!

First off, a short person problem to deal with: my stirrup leathers don't go short enough and need an extra hole punched. Putting them up a couple of holes still resulted in unexpected awesomeness...my spurs can suddenly make contact with pony, and my lower leg doesn't slip back (as much, lol). Even on the flat, I think I will leave them a hole or two up from where I had them. I hate to admit this but I think S may have ridden in my saddle a few weeks ago and they got left way long. Further confession: I rarely ride with my feet actually in the irons, unless it's lesson day or we are trying to jump stuff.
Bridget is wondering what just happened to her.


Speaking of which, we had a jump lesson and we jumped stuff! At a canter! A whole course! We trotted to change leads and/or rebalance in the corners, I was freaking out inside, and it was wiggly and kind of ugly, but it still counts!

We started with a figure 8 over some trot poles, then switched them to canter poles, then added a little cross rail in between. Next, we added in an outside line of crossrails and a couple of verticals angling back across the center. So, we built things up gradually. Bridget and I had some ugly moments as far as steering went but EC is more of the "OK, moving on, next time try not to fall off" type of coach ( I exaggerate a bit here, of course. No one fell off. She's got great, useful input but as long as we are safe and not adversely affecting our horses she is more about pushing us and building confidence than getting it perfect every time)   The jumps were tiny, so our "ugly" issues were with steering. Bridget gets excited and feels like she knows where she's going and wants to cut in. Pony's giving us homework for next time!

I could feel Bridget getting really pumped up as the lesson progressed. I can't even believe I'm typing this, but the other part of my homework this week is to relax and slow her canter down between fences. Specifically, practice the little line we set up and get an actual 5 strides in the line set for 5, rather than the 4 we got both times through. Partly my fault, as I was caught by surprise and not expecting to have to ask pony to slow down ever in this lifetime. Also, I was under the impression pony would need a little 'more' to get the horse strides and was chasing her a little. Nope, apparently pony has a BIG canter hiding in there . Live and learn, so my homework is to find that nice bouncier canter for next time. 

Part of me is not confident about practicing this on my own, the other part feels like we'll be fine or else EC wouldn't set us loose unattended between lessons. Of course you can rest assured I'll be out there dressaging sans stirrups (and mile long reins most likely) too, so maybe she's thinking potentially smashing some poles is the lesser of the two evils? :)

Another text break brought to you by Bridget
Whatever the case, let it be known we survived our first real jumping lesson and didn't even make huge fools of ourselves. I actually had a ton of fun, and I'm super excited for our next lesson. Oh...and EC is going ahead and entering us in the cross rail division at the next show. I'm kinda nervous. Cross rails are obviously not intimidating, but pony's first show ever and my first one in 4 years or so is a little bit nervous making. It's not a super large show, but it is part of a provincial series and therefore a little more official than the normal local stuff. I have no expectations of anything as we are obviously not hunters, nor are we fast enough for jumpers, it's for the miles and the longer term goal of eventing. I just don't want to embarrass myself in front of my new horsey community! The dressage % day is the following weekend and I'm not so worried about that, by all accounts it's fairly casual and the judge the have hired is pretty encouraging.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Slow And Steady

After our good ride on Thursday, we had a not so great one Friday. New Barn is quite a busy place and there are times when sharing the arena becomes a bit difficult, particularly when there are a couple of people who are pretty aggressive about getting in your space. Great practice for crowded warm ups, but not the best for schooling your horse. Bridget unfortunately got a couple of stone cruises on our big adventure last weekend, and has been a little footsore, so we're stuck with arena rides for the time being.
The shape is getting better. More muscle + smaller belly :)

Saturday and Sunday I timed my visits early-ish in the mornings when I knew the place would be less crowded, and that was a success. While I know sharing an arena is a reality when you are showing and boarding, Bridget and I both do better when the place is less busy and I'm always disappointed when I drive in and the parking lot is full. I'm more focused and less self conscious, and pony is obviously less worried about her surroundings too.

I don't have any super exciting updates or breakthroughs riding wise this week, just some slow and steady progress. Those canter departs are slightly more reliable. The right lead is getting stronger.Walk/trot transitions are improving as far as balance. We're halting square more often than not. And, we're cantering little jumps. It's not pretty, but we're getting it done. I feel like the majority of the battle with Midge is just showing her she can do stuff - the refinements can come later. As always, she's not as brave or confident as her calm exterior would have you believe. She'd happily quit mid stride at any point so my legs are getting a super workout. My position most likely stinks, because adult legs plus spurs on pony body seems to equal heels up and leg too far back. Must remember to ask once, then use my whip to tap her so I can keep my leg softer. EC is hopeful that with increased fitness and confidence Midge will start taking me to the jumps. I'm not 100% sure of that as I do wonder how much of it is her being lazy and not that into it. Dressage needs all the forwards too though, so whether we continue jumping stuff or not we've got a bit of work to do. It's funny though, in the moment I'm super positive and happy with Midge. When I get home and start writing these posts or thinking further on things (also, fall into the trap of comparing where we're at with how others are doing) I start to feel a little discouraged. That probably says more about where I'm at personally than how our actual rides are going, so you may need to take some of my uncertainty with a grain of salt :) Progress, no matter how small, is something to be celebrated.
What Midge thinks of progress!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Fun Ride

Midge had Tuesday and Wednesday off due to me being too tired to head to the barn after work. My schedule isn't that bad, it's just poor planning on my part. Time to smarten up!

I went to the barn last night and it was super quiet. It's normally very busy, so it was a bit of a treat to have the place mostly to myself. Since I didn't feel rushed to make space for someone else, I spent some time in the cross ties tidying up Bridget's mane and tail. She's been a little neglected as far as spa days go, so it was nice to spoil her a little with an extended grooming session.

Silly pony faces
When I finally hopped on, for the first time in about forever Bridget stood and didn't move out until asked. Normally we have to play the game of putting her back where we started a couple of times and making her wait. For a lazy pony , she's surprisingly impatient sometimes! So, standing completely still after almost a year of correcting her is a win. I don't expect it will happen again any day soon, so it's posted here for posterity :)

We walked around for a bit to warm up, then I asked her to trot on a loose rein. I have no idea what sort of magic was occurring, but after a lap or two I realized something was odd...I wasn't having to remind the pony to trot at all. So unlike her! I increased the contact, and she braced against me. There's the pony I know. However, she softened fairly quickly and our spirals and first

pass of travers was actually very good for a baby pony. I think she sleeps on things she's learned, because it was light years ahead of what we had on Monday. Canter transition right was weird, because it was soft and light, and we essentially loped off like a western combo. I thought for sure she must be on her left (favoured) lead, because the amount of struggling was essentially zero. Nope, just a beautiful right lead canter. Is someone schooling my pony when I'm not looking? Seriously, I'm used to her leaping into the transition, then motorbiking and galloping when she's not sucking back or switching leads randomly. What a change! The only thing I can think of is that we very nearly wiped out in our lesson Monday night in a disagreement over slowing down and turning (ie not falling in the ditch that runs alongside the arena) so maybe, just maybe, she learned something from that and is trying harder to be a little careful with her feet and a little more willing to listen to her rider.
Looking fitter these days

Going to the left was great as well - none of that bulging and falling in that we had Monday. Canter was wonderful, the first time I've felt like she's been balanced and on the aids the majority of the time. We did a couple of laps and quit with a ton of praise rather than attempt to push for even more. 

Of course I took her over some little crossrails before finishing. Little pony was feeling it and WAY over jumping them and more than happy to canter out. I told her she'll need a better rider than me if she keeps that up , but I think she was having fun because she didn't listen to my pleas for mercy ;) We quit before I made too big of a fool of myself. All in all, only about a 20-30 minute ride, and one of the best I've had on her.

Since I have time to ponder such things, I'm thinking our ride was so good because she was carrying very little tension.  As to why she was so relaxed and happy, I think:

-the barn was really quiet. No one else in the arena. She's still worried about other horses in there with her I think .

-she had a couple of days off. I think she can get a bit tired and fed up if I school her too often.

-we had a productive lesson on Monday. I think she goes back to the barn and figures things out between rides.

-she got her feet trimmed. Her toes were on the flat and longish side behind and were getting a little bruised and sore. Farrier trimmed them up to accommodate/fix that and I think Bridget is happier. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Lesson Recap

Since Midge and I are officially prepping for a mini show season this fall, the focus last night was on establishing a baseline for where we're currently at and then setting the necessary homework to be prepared for our first dressage show. Surprisingly, 'more forward' wasn't on our list! EC was really happy with our trot work, saying the tempo is just right and that Midge is really starting to have a nice cadence and carries herself from behind more often than not. Only homework there is to add a bit more contact and just generally ask for slightly 'more' - the suggested exercise was the ever useful spiral where I'm to keep the same speed as we spiral in, asking for her to step 'bigger' and more under herself.  I'm to remember to keep my reins super even and my hands together and level as soon as she is going well - no nitpicking and 'helping'.

If anyone actually keeps tabs on my boring lesson recaps, you'll remember previous homework has been leg yields and the start of travers. Travers is still pretty shaky - Midge is like "I cannot possibly have my head even slightly bent in the direction of travel", because she really wants to pop that shoulder, but we get a stride here and there and having her haunches in is at least not an issue. There of course is a method to that madness, and that is that we can ask for our canter from that position and have a decent chance at a balanced transition. I'm so pleased that we had 3 really nice right lead canter departs, but there were probably three others where I lost the shoulder and either got the wrong lead or no canter at all. We ended on a good one and switched directions, again the exercise being travers on the wall to canter large around the arena, spiraling in to a 20 m circle, then back to trot. Midge is much stronger to the left so physically she had no issues with that. I however, had serious issues keeping her straight, both in the transition and down the long sides. She was really drifting right and dragging me along. EC laughed and gave us trot/canter transitions as homework. No surprises there, but what is funny is that Midge has gone from "can't bend right!" to "can't bend left". Proof I've been doing my homework, also proof that I've been neglecting the rest.

We were all much happier with Midge's work ethic last night, but of course many jokes were still made at her expense. EC remarked Bridget would like to just stand around and be a couch, which of course made me laugh as I refer to her often on here as my mobile couch. I do get the feeling she really likes Ms Bridget though. When I mentioned I had bought Bridget as an opposite to counteract Ginger's silliness, and likely should have got something more in the middle of the two, EC was quite positive about Bridget. She feels like we can work with what's there and that there's hope for us - the fitter Midge gets (hopefully) the more honest she'll be about moving out nicely. She's a decent enough mover we can have some fun with dressage even if the eventing thing doesn't work out. On that note, though, we do have a jumping lesson next week and she would like for us to enter the crossrails division at the next hunter/jumper show (in less than a month - eek!) for the experience.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Doubting

Long suffering husband just inadvertently made me cry. We were talking about how badly I want to be a good rider and how I feel like I'm really failing. How discouraged I'm feeling with where Midge is at, and how hard I'm taking the decision to sell Ginger. He's like "I know how bad you want it...I see how hard you work and how dedicated you are. You're great!" What can I say? I love him, he's the best. But then: "That last lesson I watched I couldn't believe how much you had to get after Bridget just to canter those poles, but you smacked her and really made her go!" Wait, say what?! I know his comment was meant in a kind, "you're great because you can get even Bridget to do stuff" way, but all I could think was that THAT was his take home from my lesson? That I'm a winner for getting my horse to canter via a whip? That riding Bridget looks that difficult? Since I knew I was being silly, I thanked him for being so supportive and attempted to change the topic :) Not to be deterred, he continued on with "Bridget can be really tough...she was SO bad that lesson" And then I cried. Because it was actually the best lesson I'd had on her in quite some time and even EC was complimentary of the change as far as the cooperation and forward button went. Even so, I was unhappy with it and G had just inadvertently pointed out the things gnawing away at insecure old me.

He attempted to salvage the situation by saying "Hey, don't worry, when Ginger sells we'll go shopping for something you can event and have fun with. Remember, we just got Bridget because she was safe and nice and would be a good trail horse for you. It's not the end if the world if she isn't good at jumping" And of course I just cried harder because oh-my-god-I-suck-so-bad I would only ruin New Horse too. And because obviously Ginger isn't replaceable.

And finally, I cried some more because I felt bad that dear, sweet G has to put up with a crazy horse girl like me. And then a little more because it's selfish to be all emotional over something so minor when other people have real reasons to be sad. So I cried a little for them too.

Maybe you have to know me in real life to really find this story funny - I am one if the most practical and level people out there. G is sometimes is offended I don't get more obviously emotional about real life issues. So, let this story serve as (more) proof that horses make people crazy!

Here's a bonus pic of Bridget being weird and getting sort of stuck upside down while rolling. A hazard when your back is a table top I guess :) Ginger is intrigued as normally she is the weird one:


Saturday, 8 August 2015

Adventurin'

Apologies in advance for the lack of recent images...my iphone is getting old and smashed up so it's 50/50 whether my photos will turn out or end up looking like we live inside a rain cloud. I need a new phone. In seemingly unrelated news, my favorite tack store is having a huge sale this month. Any bets where my disposable income this month is going?  ;)

So, the barrel race. I got to the barn bright and early this morning and got cute pony looking domesticated again. Normally we would trailer in, but EC had some other commitments so we had to trail ride over to the equestrian club grounds. A huge part of my real life job is interpreting aerial and satellite imagery, so I might have taken an advance look at the area and made myself a little map. What my computer couldn't really tell me is just how technical those trails are. Oh my goodness, eventers are a hard core bunch! Honestly, there is very little that frightens me on a trail, particularly if I'm on Bridget. There were spots on these trails though where I was really unsure. We have a steep trail at home everyone calls "suicide hill". The one we rode today made that look like a beginner  hill. It also ended in a fairly sketchy creek crossing (logs jumbled up and lots of flat,slippery rock). That was sort of the theme of the ride...lots of logs, steep drop offs and banks, and lots of water crossings. The forests are gorgeous and the area is nice enough, but if I was hiking I'd be seriously wondering if I could get a horse through them. It seems that they were labelled as "difficult" mountain biking trails for a reason! At any rate, Bridget is a gem and we survived. It took about an hour to get to the club grounds in total, with about 30 minutes of that what I would consider accessible only for really solid and experienced horses.

The kids immediately started prepping for the races, but a nice man that rides at our barn invited us along for more trail exploring. Another girl who was quite familiar with the area offered to give is a tour of the better trails. After the interesting expedition on the way over I half considered staying put, but she said these were nicer trails and she could show me where there were some x country jumps. OK then, game on! 

As promised, the trails leading away from the other side of the grounds were much nicer for horses. We rode for about half an hour on a mix of gravel roads and got to the perimeter of a golf course. Bridget wasn't overly happy about being in the line of fire behind the driving range, but I figured the odds were good no one was going to hit one that far and over the fence. From the golf course, a short trail took us up to a road with a bunch of logs placed along the sides to jump. Bridget and I trotted into the first one, which looked inviting even though it was on an uphill. The closer we got, the bigger it seemed to get, and of course once we were right on top of it I realized it was quite large for us and also twice as wide as I thought - there was a second log stacked in behind! Bridget was game though and got us safely over. After that, I stuck to the tiny stuff and we happily trotted through. I don't think our little adventure would be EC approved, particularly the first log! Our homework was canter poles, and since Bridget can have a faulty forward button I am supposed to canter any and all things so she gets the idea jumping = canter and forward, not an excuse to slow down and look. 

Long story short, by the time we got back to the club grounds we'd been in the saddle 2.5 hours already and opted to just head home. We avoided one of the creeks and went over a large metal decked bridge. That's a new one for Bridget. It was quite loud and echo-y and I think she scared herself a little nearing the end of it. You know how it goes, they get worried and scramble/trot a little and then the bridge gets louder and scarier...poor Midge!
Sketchy trail and creek seemed just as hairy on the way home, which is saying something, I guess. At least now I have some more trails to explore, and the nice man I mentioned wants to come with me to explore some more routes. Bridget could use some trail boot camp to increase her fitness. She wasn't hot or sweaty when we got home, but I could feel her hind end especially was getting pretty tired from all the steep grades.

I drove back over to watch some of the barrel racing and drill team demos. It looked like a lot of fun and had me wishing for a more forward horse. I'm glad I didn't end up entering, as it was a pretty competitive class. Midge is a fabulous little mare, but today, even in a group of cantering horses, she's like "oh hey, let's stop and eat something instead" followed by "ugghhhh this is so haaarrrdddd, I hate life" (complete with pinned ears and angry mare faces at my spurs). To give her her due, our friends today consisted of one Arabian pony and 4 upper level eventers. Sorry Midge, they all much more athletic than you and it's hardly fair to ask you to keep up. I do love that she thinks angry mare faces will make them wait for her or not pass her :)

I'm discouraged we are a year in and still don't have an enthusiastic canter, particularly as we are surrounded by all the baby OTTBs and eventer bred horses that are bred to move and have zero difficulties cantering around and jumping little things, even with minimal miles under saddle. I'm forever grateful for what Ms Bridget is good at though, today's trail ride being a prime example of that. Fingers crossed we can make a lower level eventer out of her yet, but if not, I like her and she makes me laugh, and that counts for a lot!

I think she can have tomorrow off, then we have a jumping lesson Monday night!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Timeline

This year hasn't turned out at all like I had originally hoped/planned for. Lots of great things have happened in the past few months, but the horse thing has kind of been put slightly on the back burner as a result. Story of my life! I'm starting to feel like we have a path moving forward, so here's a mini outline of some planned horsey outings and events over the next month or so:

Every Monday: Lesson time! I'm hoping to move to twice weekly come fall, as Mondays are a shared jumping lesson and I'd like a dressage one as well.

This weekend: Barrel race and trail ride. Although this is a fundraiser event and there are fun classes mixed with the serious ones, I've been informed we can't 'compete' (in quotes because I lol at the idea of us being competitive) without western tack and attire. Are they scared someone will show them up in an english saddle?;) Since my western saddle is currently residing with Ginger and as a barn we have one pony and one horse sized saddle to share, we'll have to sit on the sidelines. We're still going along as a barn to participate in the trail ride and cheer on those competing. It will be good for Midge to get out to the show grounds for a day anyway - we'll look at it like a practice run.
We'll finally have company on this trail!

Sometime between mid to end of August: Ginger moves to  trainer friend in the city for training/sale. I already gave my notice at the horsey paradise barn and it was a very sad day.

September 12/13: Open show and hunter/jumper day. Planning to attend should Midge be ready - even if it's some walk/trot classes and cross rails.

September 22: Dressage percent day. Definitely going to this.


There are also a few other things floating around, like monthly cross country schooling dates, a dressage clinic, and a fall hunt. We'll be attending any and all events that my schedule allows.

As far as eventing, that's looking like a prospect for next spring...the other girls at the barn have all qualified for their respective championships and there isn't anything else on the barn calendar until those occur in the fall. I'm fine with that since moving created a big setback for us both and I don't think we're quite ready. Midge and I are both fairly new to this thing and I'd rather go back to basics and feel confident and over prepared rather than under prepared and unsure!

In further 'exciting' news, there's an off chance one of my previous horses might return home to us this fall as she's been outgrown and needs to move down a level jumping wise. She's still more than capable of anything I'd be brave enough to tackle, so I'm trying to be excited rather than panic over all those $$$ floating away....anyone want a part lease on a lovely mare?

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Long Weekend, Lessons, Plus Smashing and Water Fighting

I have been riding regularly but for a while there nothing noteworthy was happening, neither bad nor good. We were just being boring and doing our homework of getting B quicker off my aids and me more focused on keeping her straight and not letting her wiggle around and bend her neck to look inside/outside. Luckily, we can do that on the trail as well, so what could have been an incredibly boring couple of weeks between lessons was only moderately painful.


I got word we were having a baby jump lesson Monday night, so on Friday I got ambitious and trotted a few x's. That didn't go so well. It was hot and B was lazy and I was left hoping EC wasn't disturbed in her house by the sounds of crashing poles and falling standards - both the actual jump standards and my own riding ones, such as they are.
via google images

Yesterday was a provincial holiday, so that meant long weekend fun, and I took Saturday and Sunday off from riding and went with G to explore some new parks and hiking trails and just generally chill out.  

This little hidden bay is basically in my backyard. The water is so clear that I felt safe enough to swim without worrying about sharks/orcas/random sea creatures :) I think when we buy something here we'll try to stay close to this area - it's got a neat vacation-y vibe and is pretty friendly for hiking/biking too.  I like the protected little bays vs the open ocean. The actual moorage area is full of giant yachts, so I can't wait to pull out my little $20 inflatable boat and 'sail' around ;)


After that much needed R&R that turned into about a million hiking miles, it was time for the much anticipated riding lesson. It was really, really hot out and I'm pretty sure I was the sweatiest person ever about 5 minutes into our warm up. G came along, but quickly got distracted by having a water fight with EC's 8 year old son. Nice that he found someone his own age to play with ;)

Once again, we focused on straightness and consistency. EC was really happy with how much more responsive Bridget was to my aids, and we had some moments where things really felt like they came together, particularly in the trot. Life really is so much easier when your horse is forward and you have steering! After about 20 minutes of playing with the trot, EC set up about 4 grids of poles for us to trot through (2 sets of 4-5 poles on each of the long sides). Again, much emphasis on straightness, and I was to alternate going through the entire 'line' with leg yielding around every second grid. Surprisingly, that wasn't so hard. 

Next up, EC switched the spacing so the second grid on each side were canter poles. The idea being we trot through the first grid, ask for canter over the last pole and canter through the second grid. The girds were spaced about 4 Bridget canter strides apart and I admit to thinking there was no possible way I could get a transition in one stride, let alone a straight enough transition to hold a decent line through the second set. Bridget shocked me by totally stepping up and getting it done. EC is a smart woman - those poles were an excellent way for both pony and I to focus on where we needed to be and when, rather than our normal hit or miss or rush-y canter transitions. 

After that, we moved on to a shorter interval between the grids. (2 strides) Here it kind of fell apart a little. We were both tired, and the location of the grid was directly past the gate, right where B likes to sort of hestitate because gates are magnetic. We got it done after a few tries and called it a day. I was totally done - pony requires a lot of putting together and leg right now and it's a huge workout in the heat. I was surprised I lasted the entire hour, to be honest! While I was dying in the heat, G had managed to flood out the barn with his new buddy and we walked back into a full fledged barn water fight. Even Bridget didn't seem to mind getting caught in the crossfire and much fun was had by all.

Tired ears

Homework for next week:

- Keep focusing on straightness. Even on the trail, pick a point and ride to it. Don't let her weave her way there.

- Two point. Without my seat driving, particularly in the transitions, pony wants to quit. Need to get her more used to idea that she can still go forward!

-Leg yields. Continue with them, with focus on straight and accurate to whatever point I pick. Will help with canter straightness/leads. Ideally we want to have same lateral response in canter as we currently have in trot.

-Canter poles/ x's. Practice the exercises from this lesson. Anything smaller than her belly should just be ridden as canter strides - focus on positive, forward ride in and out and quality of canter.

-Jumper show mid Sept if ready, dressage show third week of Sept.