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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 …

A Good Place to Be

Spring in Maine has finally sprung! After a long six months of winter, the sn*w is gone (save for a few areas on the shoulder of shady back roads) and the grass is greening up. I honestly had my doubts it would ever arrive haha. Of course, it has been quite cold, windy, and rainy, but at least there is no sn*w.
April 18 - the white crap just didn't want to leave!
After several excellent lessons this winter and early spring on Taylor Rose, I was finally able to get the horse trailer safely down our steep driveway to bring Ellie for lessons again. We took a lesson on the Wednesday of April school break and another one this past Saturday. 
April 22 - finally GONE!
Honestly, I wasn't expecting much after a winter of boring walking rides.  We didn't "do" anything significant in my mind from December through March.  But much to my surprise and delight, she has come out of a winter of boring walking rides a much stronger and more mature horse. Her walk and trot tempo has become amazingly steady and she was willing to hold herself together in the canter for a much more balanced and relaxed gait.  Instead of rushing and zooming and ignoring my half halts, her canter was a million times better and steady because she was not expecting me to hold her up.  We still have work to do on the upwards transition, but it is much more prompt and that matters more right now than her slightly going above the vertical. 
lunging in the barnyard
Beth had me trying a new technique with Ellie to help her unlock her shoulder/neck area. Some of the tension she carries there is simply because of her breeding (high headed Morgan) and some of it is simply how she evades the contact. I feel as though last year towards the end of the season we got into a vicious cycle of pulling against each other, and we all know that pulling on the reins simply isn't ever the answer.  I also like to use my left hand (when it is the outside rein) as an "emergency brake" and even when I think I am not hanging on it, I create tension in my arm that definitely passes down through the rein.
the sun has made a few brief appearances
When Ellie tightens her neck/shoulder area and braces just slightly upward, Beth had me lifting my inside hand "up and out" while keeping my elbow at my side.  Besides keeping the contact enough to not drop it, there was no pulling or "power" in my inside rein.  It was just moving up and out in a way to move and tilt the bit just so.  Ellie immediately released through her tense neck. It worked so well in the trot and canter and suddenly her back was there.  I just have to remember to not hang on my left rein when we are tracking right!

We have not been able to practice much of our lesson homework here at home, as the ring is so soggy. Usually by this point, it has been warm enough to dry things out, but the rain has been incessant and the few times it is not raining, it does not seem to want to get much above 50-55 degrees.  Ugggg.  So lots of driveway dressage (and barnyard dressage, where I have a mostly flat 20m. circle in front of the barn haha) and walking in the fields.  The fields are not drying up well either, though, but I am trying my best to be patient.  This week is looking soggy and cold again, but hopefully the jet stream will get itself worked out and the spring weather will improve!  
Ellie is ready for fly season with her new ducky fly sheet haha