When we arrived Thursday night I tacked Midge up and went for a quick hack around the grounds. The other horses were pretty wild and needed to stay in the ring, but Midge was a good girl so got to go splash in one of the water jumps and wander about the fields. It's a huge place, but sadly the footing in much of it was not the best this year - the unrelenting wet of the coast has wet has apparently reached even the near desert of the interior of the province.
|Still a beautiful place, just a bit grey and mucky.|
Midge being Midge, she settled into her little pole corral, ate her dinner, and made not a peep all night. I had an early morning lesson time, and Midge was so chill I needed help convincing her to get out of bed :)
|Not that into it|
Our lesson group was interesting. I had done the intro clinic last year, so signed up for starter/pre entry (I think that equates to Beginner Novice in the US). Since the clicicians do tend to have you school stuff above the level you signed up for, I was a little worried when I saw I'd been added to an Entry (Novice-ish) group, but I figured I would have to be brave and that it would be a good learning opportunity.
On the actual day, it seemed like our group was really inexperienced and struggling. We didn't actually get out of the arena, and I admit to being a little unhappy...in the hour and a half ride, Midge and I did maybe 10-15 min of warmup, and maybe another 15 of running through various jump exercises. The rest was standing around waiting and watching others work through stuff. I probably sound like a bad person, because obviously we've all been that person in the lesson and the instructor really had no choice but to focus on them for safety reasons. BUT I paid a lot of money and drove a long way for xc schooling, so I was disappointed.
Luckily, I had scheduled our pace clinic directly after so we still had a chance to get out for a gallop. Midge, having used no energy in the previous 90 minutes, suddenly woke up, realized she was outside the arena, and went a little wild. About halfway through our first lap, she randomly sucked back, I leaned forward and kicked...and she took offense, got her head down, bucked a few times, and bolted. And so I fell off. HARD. It hurt. I got back on, went two more times with some minor antics, and had some fun. Midge started to find a bit of a rhythm and was actually pulling most of the way. Fun pony, although naughty.
I'll end here with two separate questions I'd love to hear your thoughts on:
1. What do you do if you don't feel your clinic or lesson group is a good fit? Say something? Trust their judgement and just hope it's an off day?
2. Riding silly antics. I've been told to slip the reins to help avoid being pulled out of a secure position. Then kick forward. "They can't play if they're moving forward fast enough" I've also been told to sit deep, stay tall and strong, and no matter what, keep the horse's head up. The problem I'm having with option 1 is that most athletic horses are perfectly capable of continuing the silliness at speed. With option 2, an incredible amount of upper body strength is needed...particularly if your pony enjoys letting loose going down hills ;) What's your approach?