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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Clinic 6/28/08

Today was my stadium jumping clinic with Steuart Pittman. It was misting on and off, but all in all the weather was fine. Dreamy was fantastic of course. Steuart really liked her. He was amazed at her age and the fact that she has only been under saddle for such a short amount of time. I made a joke about her having a young mind but an old body.....and he said he thought she had a young body (fluidity and range of motion) and an old mind. She was so calm and ready to work.

He also said she was a nice jumper, really used her knees and back, and often really gave each fence a good look. She never rushes, she just takes a good look and listens to me.....so nice compared to the hot Morgans I grew up riding. You had better be hanging on well when you were jumping a Morgan! LOL!

Steuart started all the fences low......the crossrails were probably 18" and the verticals were from 2 feet to 2 foot 6. He even did a spread, which I have never done with her. Oh and we did a rolltop too, which she has never done. It was the "scary" fence.....LOL.....but she just went over it like nothing. She did everything perfectly really. :D He asked about her confidence level before we started and I said she was better than last year but I would still not call her "bold". Well she proved me wrong by being very bold to each fence! I even got some nice canter from her, before and after fences. She did a combination where she trotted in to the first fence (rolltop) and then cantered 4 strides to a gate. It was LOVELY! We did a couple different courses and all went well.

Then he decided to raise the fences. Hmmm.....it was almost like it was "too easy" and we were doing so well there was really nothing to work on. The larger fences were harder for her, because she had to use her hind end more......and it still needs strengthening. I WISH I had hills to work her on, as that would REALLY help. Anyway she did OK over the higher fences, and we even did the spread at about 2'9" and 4 feet across. Holy cow she jumped that thing! Now when the jumps were higher he said she was hurling herself over them, rather than rocking back and using her hind end. Yup, that is exactly what I am working on, getting her to use her hind end by strengthening it. And then when she "hurled" herself, it made me lose stability and my lower leg would swing back. UGGG. So while he said my equitation was great and I had good balance, when Dreamy started hurling, I got sloppy.

So we worked over a larger vertical a couple times and he had me thinking about staying more upright and widening my hands.....it was hard and while I only got it once, I do understand what he was teaching me and can try it at home.

Steuart agreed that Dreamy was happy and very good at her job......when the fences were under 2'6". When we raised them, it showed the weakness in her hind. BUT.....for being not yet strong in her hind end, as well as being green over fences, and not to mention the fact that I have no desire to take her past 2'6" at her age........she was perfect and I am a very happy rider! He kept forgetting she was 17 and that I do not want to compete at the higher levels with her. My dream is Beginner Novice....LOL! Now if she were 5 years old right now, SURE I would have loftier goals. But I want to be realistic in my goals with her. And I know I will go higher in dressage than jumping with her....simply because it is less wear and tear on her legs.

So all in all, a very good day. Worth the $$? Well.....most of what he told me was stuff I already knew, BUT it was good to have someone of his level to solidify what I already knew and what I was already doing with Dreamy. It is always worth getting someone's knowledgeable opinion. I did learn how to handle the "hurling" by sitting up.

Geez, two lessons in one week! I love this! I wish I could take a jumping lesson once a month........I wonder if I could swing that. :D It would only be July, August and Sept really. I would at least like to take another lesson with someone before Nationals. It is just hard to find someone to take jumping lessons with. I DO NOT want to ride with a hunter instructor. I have no problems with hunters but I do not want to be taught/expected to lay on her neck. I am not looking to sit pretty and let the horse do the work. I want to be able to be SAFE on XC and my personal opinion is that the current "popular" hunter form is NOT safe for XC.

So the search is on.........I wonder if it would be easier to do a clinic each month rather than a lesson. Because let's face it, I MUCH rather do the dressage lessons on a regular basis. Time will tell.

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