Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

Ok so my mini rant of the day -- I've so had enough of this whole sunburn idea. The hugest blister I've ever seen (like half my leg) which was absolutely disgusting when it popped and now hurts almost as much as the original burn, and all the rest is just wickedly itchy. Discovered the last time I was really sunburnt was in Australia -- which'd be 2000. Made it 9 years -- now I'm going for 20 :) Am a little curious why bruises didn't seem to burn... Thought that was interesting...

On a way more fun note (stolen from GRS blog) -- had a great ride today. One of those ones that starts out pretty dodgy and just gets better and better :)

Ok now have to preface this w/ "the rules" -- these are not the fun rules that my students try really hard to abide by ( for those who aren't familiar w/ these). The rules according to my dressage coach are minimum of 20 mins of connected, really through, dressage type work every day. As in no slack off w/u by galloping around the field before jumping. Not unreasonable and I have to acknowledge she has several very good points in her argument for this... So combine that with the fact that I do generally make an effort to follow advice I've paid for, we're making a point to include this in every ride (although sometimes the 20 mins is *after* jumping - not sure if that's bending the rules or not? hmmmm just so much easier to accomplish when she's warmed up, forward, and using her back -- and the fastest way to accomplish all of the above is to jump :). Anyways -- the rules according to my jump coach are "only gymnastics, lots of gymnastics, and always at a trot" -- again building strength, coordination and confidence. And helping to fix the long and flat issue that is so prevalent in our course work (not that we're doing courses of course cause we're following the rules and only doing gymnastics >;-P)

So I get on and Miss Sienna is spinny -- could be cause it's 10deg cooler than yesterday, could be cause I usually ride in the aft (read "after turnout"), could be cause I asked her to work before breakfast (NOT in the contract!), or maybe she was just feeling good. Regardless there were definitely a few wheeeee moments :) But she settled, and being dedicated we diligently followed the new regime we did our 20 mins or so of "real" dressage and treadmill type work building muscle, strength, etc etc and mostly trying to get solid enough so as to not be laughed out of the dressage ring. N she got back into the rhythm reasonably quickly so I was pleased w/ that. Still a long way from where I'd like us to be, but at least putting a solid effort in and got an amazing right canter transition. Those of you familiar w/ ottbs will understand why this is a BIG deal. hahaha it's the little things in life eh?

Now having decided to get w/ the system such as it were, I came out before I rode and set up a very nice gymnastic. 3 trot poles (thereby insuring I won't be tempted to cheat and canter in), then a series of 4 verticals each one stride apart. Txt-book distances (which she conveniently can meet no problem) I had the first and last one up and all the rest as poles on the ground (jump coach is big on "set the gymnastics from the last one first so the horse always knows what's coming"). So having warmed up over an X on the other side of the ring, and jumped the last fence of the gymnastic a few times in completely calm and unexciting fashion we decided to do the line. Trot over the trot-poles, no problem. First fence, no problem, then FLY to the end of the ring w/ a mini burp over the last fence. hmmmm not *exactly* what I was going for. Try again but this time we canter the trot poles (a feat of athleticism I was *not* looking for. So much for no cheating. Sheesh!) and tear off to the end of the ring. Ok, change of plan. Make final fence bigger and put third one up too. Now we @ least have a reasonable speed-bump in there. hahaha trot in, jump first fence calmly, fly over first pole, jump next fence huge and bounce over the last one. ummmmm yeah. There was definitely supposed to be a stride in there.

Ok time to reassess -- what things make horse fly through gymnastics? One -- worried, unsure, brain fell out ear, flee response. Two, rider ahead of motion. Very much afraid we probably had *both* scenarios. So I go back to our wonderful dressage (yeah EXTRA treadmill time -- do I get bonus points?) and re-find her brain. On the plus side, she came back soooo much faster. In the past if there's been a meltdown (usually caused by external activity) there's been no recovering, so this was hugely better. Then we dressaged our way over our little w/u fence a few times till that was quiet and easy again as it had been in our w/u. Ok horse has brain reinstalled, rider has acknowledged her contribution to disaster, go try again.

Still fast, but much better. Ok fine -- get off and put up last fence. Now we have three trot poles to 4 fences each one stride apart which go up in height progressively 2'3, 2'6, 2'9, 3'. And 3' is about the highest Sienna's been intentionally asked to jump. She's getting more comfortable w/ it, but it's def high enough that she still thinks about it. So first attempt w/ all four we start w/ the drunken-filly routine, and then when she realizes she has to go straight, we fly. hahaha ok well at least we're through. N didn't even come close to touching anything. Another dressage interlude and try once more focusing entirely on quiet rhythm (along w/ no stupid rider errors!). Just about perfect. I was stunned and grinning ear to ear. hahaha then I had a nice long debate w/ myself about "leave it on a good note" vs "prove it wasn't a fluke". Well two more perfect runs later (complete w/ being balanced enough to calmly halt on a straight line afterwards!) and we ended it there. But man did she ever have amazing form once we got the rhythm under control. Wow. Although I have to admit I would prefer to refrain from bouncing one-strides in the future *g*

So overall I was really happy w/ the morning -- both w/ myself for smartening up (about friggin time!) and w/ super-pony for figuring out the challenge :) hahaha this of course means next time I get on she'll be completely ignorant and I'll hit the ground at least once. But we all know that's how the game is played.

Oh and if you ever want to feel like a beginner -- try mounting on the off side! hahaha for those who never do so anyways. Used to do that all the time as a kid but haven't in oh a decade or so. Horse is so one-sided though that I'm trying to do everything I can to balance it. Well lets just say it wasn't my most graceful maneuver ever!

As of 9:00 tonight I'm on vacation! Woohoo :) Of course I have 2 horse shows in my "week off" and a zillion other things to do, but I'm hoping to get to sleep in at least once or twice :)


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