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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 …

Just Another Canter.....

Today Dreamy and I did some jumping and I did some work in my half seat in preparation for this weekend's clinic. We are riding with Steuart Pittman, an Advanced level event rider from Maryland. I am SO EXCITED and a teeny bit nervous. :D

So yeah my legs are a bit sore from the stirrups being SO HIGH compared to when I am in my dressage saddle. And my knees are achy from balancing myself over my center of gravity during my trot half seat intervals.

Dreamy was a good girl. I think overall it was a good ride, actually. She was easy to warm up and then we did our walk/trot/walk transitions from last night's lesson. She was 60/40 on her leaning coming down to the walk and 100 on her upwards. No hopping into the trot! I am sure the leaning is partly my fault, but I also think she has a harder time working here at home compared to the nice flat sand ring where we have our lessons.

I did some canter work before we started jumping. In my mind, I figured I would see what I got for canter, then jump a bit, and then go back and work on the canter more. WELLLLLL......surprise of all surprises! Dreamy picked up both leads correctly and EXACTLY when I asked. HUH! I started to the left and really focused on counterbending her and keeping her straight. And she completely caught me off guard by shifting her weight back and stepping/hopping right into the left canter! :D :D :D It was so darn coo to feel her use her hindquarters like that! YAY! So I tried it 2 more times and she did it correctly ONCE AGAIN. I changed rein and tried the right canter.....SAME THING! I nearly got off right then and there, only 20 mins into my ride! LOL!!!!

So I made a fuss over her and gave her a good scratch. We walked around on a long rein for a while. Then I fixed my stirrups and did the crossrail, gate, and bounce. She was forward and attentive. My leg kept slipping back, which is one of the things I need to work on this weekend. GRRRR....I am so mad at myself for allowing my equitation to get so crappy! I got some nice canters after each fence and even maintained it once between fences. That was a huge improvement! :)

We walked around again and then started some trotting in half seat. I worked until I thought my legs were going to burn right off. And then another walk break and more trotting....this time I wanted her to just relax into the bit and give me a nice energetic trot. OK to the right, but leaning like a madwoman to the left. UGGGG, exactly the same old stuff. And then hops into the canter. OK, I had to really concentrate on what Judy said last night when this happened....and remember to keep breathing and stay calm. I knew I could work her through this. I put her on a 20 m circle rather than the larger 40 m and it seemed to help. I focused on suppling, then release.........suppling, then release.........and eventually we got this nice forward trot with steady contact! Once I got that steady connection for a full 2 circles, I came back to the walk and praised! :)

Because it was waaaay earlier than my normal rides (usually I have to ride after 7:30 and get done between anywhere between 8:15-8:45) I took Dreamy down the dirt road to cool out. Sparky was snoozing in the barn aisle, so she did not even realize we had left. I am proud of my old girl for becoming so calm about Dreamy being out of her pasture. :D Dreamy did her big old walk down the road and back. It was cool and shady in the woods, so it was nice. I miss not having time to get out of the ring more often. It is just too unsafe to go out after 7:30, because while it is still light out, it is rather dark on the dirt road which is very wooded.

We did encounter a mud did a little water charm school. Dreamy is NOT afraid of water, but when there is a puddle on the side of the road, she much rather just keep her toes dry and go around it. She does not get excited or jumpy or anything. Actually she is completely calm about water. Just does amazing feats of body contortion to avoid having to get her hooves actually in the puddle.

We went from the typical "I-am-contorting-my-body-in-a-pretzel-to-keep-out-of-the-water" horse to "Oh all right MOM, if you are going to be that insistent! " I made her do it about 30 times, just back and forth through the puddle. Finally I got a bunch of straight body movements through the center of the puddle. GOOD HORSE! And we walked home. :)