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CNER United States Pony Club Dressage Rally - May 11, 2019

Our very first ever PC rally was this past Saturday at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, MA. It kind of cracks me up that I joined PC for the express purpose of access to more jumping instruction opportunities, and my first mounted experience is a dressage rally hahaha.  

But honestly, it was so much fun.  Maybe it is because I am so used to showing alone or maybe because I love the show prep and set up just as much (if not more) than the actual riding, but competing in a PC rally is now one of my most favorite experiences.  And I cannot wait to do more!  I think the only thing different for this show was having to label EVERYTHING with my name.  Otherwise, my show prep was just the same as normal.

Sadly, our original team of four riders ended up dwindling to just two, as one young rider ended up sick with a 103 fever and a barn was quarantined because of a horse with EHV-4 so none of the PC members from that large boarding barn could attend. Therefore, my remaining teammate and I were split …

Spring Tune Ups

It may be officially spring on the calendar, but there is plenty of sn*w on the ground here in Maine!  And a bit of mud, since it has started to s l o w l y melt and rain a bit.  Phew!  I swear, there is still two feet of the white stuff covering the ground at my farm.  Small areas of grass are slowly appearing, but most of the farm is buried.

That said, I have been doing my best to commit to a spring conditioning schedule now that daylight savings time has arrived.  It has been MUCH easier to get into a decent routine with the sun setting later and all of us finally feeling better!
March 18
Of course, it is pretty boring right now, since the footing makes it so that we can only walk around the snowy field.  When the ice on the driveway finally melted, I was able to incorporate walking up and down the hill.  But I will say, all this walking has definitely helped Ellie understand connection and reaching for the bit more than anything else.  Yeah, I would have liked to have spent the winter in an indoor honing different and more complex skills, but she has finally decided to believe me that the outside rein is allowed to turn her and when I give on the inside rein she can reach for the contact.  So that is a nice benefit haha.  

And she has definitely started to come into herself more, as I can see how much she has grown up since last winter.  It is subtle, but she is just calmer overall and sure of herself.  She is still spooky at the end of the driveway haha, but that might never go away.  She is a little firecracker, after all. But the build-up of walking and now trotting has given her a good base of fitness to start the year.

so much excitement on this March conditioning log hahahahaha
usually I just jot down the minutes I rode on the barn calendar,
but this is the official PONY CLUB way to record one's conditioning ;-)
I also finally was able to take more lessons on the sweet schoolmaster mare, Taylor.  She is such a good teacher and truly makes me ride correctly to get what I am asking for.  My own fitness is just starting to come back, not only having most of the winter off but battling pneumonia in February really knocked me down.  Taylor is teaching me to not nag with my legs, but instead expect a response when I ask.  For the past sixteen years, I have ridden uneducated Standardbreds and now Ellie, so riding a fully trained horse has made me realize how much I am allowing my horses to ignore my aids.

I am also making headway with my body's desire to overreact and muddle the canter transition, which I blame on years of riding my Standardbreds and stressing over the canter haha.  I know in my brain to half halt and simply move my outside leg back, but my body just leans forward and I flail around with both legs and it is the most convoluted aid of all time.  *sigh*  The good news is that Taylor is like WTAF when I do that and just sort of trots a little faster, and I finally mastered all our canter transitions last weekend by riding them CORRECTLY.  Beth wanted me to play with flying changes and I was like yeah, maybe I should just practice riding my canter transitions hahaha.  Poor Taylor is a saint for putting up with me.  It has made me realized WHY Ellie is so uptight about cantering, as I am literally giving her the most mixed signals of all time.  While I do not regret the time I spent retraining Standardbreds under saddle, I do realize that it created a TON of rider issues for me.

March 23
Another part of our spring tune-up routine included me finally sitting down and getting through the USEF Safe Sport modules.  In all honesty, for me, it was not that bad at all.  I am a mandated reporter anyway, as a teacher, so much of the information was nothing new to me.  But it is still a good reminder of what to watch out for and what to do when you know something is wrong in your gut but you are unsure how to respond.  It took about an hour and a half to answer the questions, do the short readings, and watch the videos.  

I know there was a lot of backlash about this training, but I do plan to do a USDF rated show this year, so I did have to complete it if I want to show.  To me, it was just another thing to do along with sending in my membership forms and dues.

March 30
I also started taking Pilates at a studio about 25 minutes away!  This was a January goal that got pushed back to March due to illnesses, but I am so glad to have started this!  The instructor is a lot of fun and while I am just going once a week, I have definitely started to notice a difference in my posture, a huge decrease in my nagging back/neck pain, and definitely a good start on my core muscles.  Having a child at age 36 meant my core REALLY disappeared and I did not bounce back like I did at age 25 when I had my first kiddo, so this is something I have wanted to try but never made the time.  

We have a Tik Maynard clinic the first weekend of May and I am aiming to ride in a Pony Club dressage rally in mid-May, so I think we are well on our way!  

If all of this friggin sn*w would just melt!  😂


TeresaA said…
The snow just needs to go. I think you are doing well. It won’t be long before you are in full swing.
Amy M said…
OH my goodness did you describe cueing a canter on a standardbred so WELL. It's part of my issues too. I think when I took Gwyn for a lesson in November and the instructor just told me to sit and slide my outside leg back for the canter and it WORKED with Gwyn I was in shock. I'm also used to a huge fanfare and flailing limbs while they try to not pace.
Laura said…
I hear ya on the sn*w melting! Sounds like we have about the same amount as you guys, give or take!
Martidoll said…
Boo snow go away!! That is an order :) Wow sounds like you are at it and ready to get going with Ms Ellie. I can't wait to hear about the Tik clinic. How exciting!! I am glad you are better so scary to be that sick!!
I'm surprised you still have so much snow. Most of ours has melted EXCEPT for the arena. That's completely snowed over.
Sara said…
Good for you getting out there for the walking hacks in the snow. My motivation isn’t that good.
It has been a long winter and I am ready! :-)
Yup, I think I can retrain my brain haha, but it hasn't been an easy process! :-)
Uggg, I am so over it! LOL
I am trying so hard to get motivated despite the YUCK out there on the ground haha. I am super excited about the Tik clinic and feel lucky he is coming to a farm about 40 mins away, which is pretty much next door when you live in rural Maine haha.
Oh, of course the arena isn't melted hahaha! Mine finally all gave way to mud, so now to wait for it to dry up. But there is finally hope!
Hahaha well, it was either walking hacks or nothing, so to keep myself sane I had to do something. ;-)
Liz Stout said…
Oohh a Tik Maynard clinic! That's super exciting. I can't wait to hear about it.
YES! I am hoping it is as good as I think it will be haha.