Here there be dragons...

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

The Bouncing Wheel of Death

Had a good laugh at work today. One of the guys did something that should've been unremarkable but was in-fact remarked on (I think it was that his shoelaces matched his shirt or something entirely random like that). So the comment was made about "oh yeah, he's just showing us all up" to which the immediate response in just the right tone was "it's what I do." hahaha well made me laugh anyways :)

Still have not even started Friday flash. Looking like it may be another midnight delivery. Ah well :)

Ok so on to the real reason for the blog. Awesome lesson today. Sienna continued her superstardom (yeah us!)

First question of the day "so what did you take away from last wknd?" -- ummmm how long've you got??? hahaha But I picked the most immediately relevant items (including "smarten up" hahaha which basically to me translates as pay attention and actually *ride* the horse, esp on the flat).

Flat work was good. Some work on me, some work on pony, end result was pretty solid. Some conversation on the concept of you do it, you do it right, or you do it again. Which is one all my students will be familiar with, but I admit I'm sometimes lazy about when goofing around on my own. Actually that's not even true, I always insist she do it right, but when I'm on my own what becomes acceptable as "right" might not technically be as good as it should *g* Basically it came down to "no goofing around". *sigh* So much for "have fun" eh?

Anyways then we moved on to (and here's a surprise) cavaletti. hahaha Which Si was a super-pro through (yeah practicing for 5 days straight!) hahaha our audience got a good laugh out of her attempts the first night. But now she's pretty well got the hang of it, so all went well there.

I had a pretty little course set up so I hoped around that a bit to warmup and again she was quiet and civilized about the whole process. So then ready to start working.

Well now some of you may have read my notes about Day 1 @ the symposium. Some of you may have read about the "advanced" exercise of a bounce on a circle the prelim/int guys were doing (for the non-eventers out there, think these horses are trained to the 3'6"-4' competition level). The exercise I did *not* teach my horse this week as I deemed it entirely too advanced for the superpony give that I can count on one hand the number of bounces we've done (although she *is* pretty good @ the wheel of death I will admit).

Yes so of course that's the exercise of the day. *sigh* And my coach makes some comment about his using somebody else's exercise as if this was poor form and I'm thinking yeah -- that's kinda the point of going to these things is it not? hahaha

So anyways - he sets up the bounce on the circle. And we're going away from home, on the difficult lead, on a 15m circle, at the canter, slightly reved because we'd just been chased by a tree.

hahaha ok minor insert here because I understand that last line might need some explanation *g* There's a fake tree in the middle of the ring that one of the other girls dragged in the other day to make her course more "scary". That day I had her put it on the ground so Sienna and I could jump it (somehow nobody else was willing to try that :). Anyways, needless to say it didn't last lying down very long after we left, so today it was decorating a jump. Well the jump it was decorating was being turned into a bounce and my coach accidently knocked the tree over as we were heading to a jump beside it (still warming up at that point). And that itself would've been ok except that then he felt the need to drag it somewhere, pick it up and shake it. hahaha and by now it's directly behind us -- this scary tree dancing around making noises. Needless to say Miss Si accelerated just a little. hahaha I am really looking forward to the days we can depart the XC start box @ speed! But for now, that's not really a skill we needed to master. And *that* was our last fence before starting this exercise. Sheesh.

Ok interlude over. Given the setting of: almost no bounce experience, difficult lead, away from home, 15m circle, at canter, and a *little* frazzled after the tree issue, was not perhaps the *best* approach ever for a green horse. N yeah, the first time she stopped. And you could just feel her total and complete confusion. Wasn't bad or malicious, just "I don't know what to do!" So we waited there while my coach dropped one side of the first vert and we could kinda climb over it and hop the 2nd one out. Ok, try again, this time in trot so she has more time to think about it, with that one side still down. Not pretty, but she did it :) Continue in canter, no problem. Not exactly bending hahahah (and by not exactly I mean not at all >;-P) but had the general bounce concept down. So it went back up to being a vertical and around and around and around the wheel we went. Eventually we got so that we were jumping it calmly, bending (and you thought keeping your bend over ONE fence was hard >;-P) and in stride. Woohoo! And I've never done that exercise before so was entertaining for me too. Not too often I get to try something I've never done before - glad I at least *saw* it done this wknd so I knew it was possible *g*

So then we change direction. And as most everybody who's ridden a horse more than oh once knows, this means you're starting over. But this time -- we're warmed up, going towards home, on the easy lead, and long since over the tree incident (first TB I've ever had w/ a good recovery time for emotional issues :). We had some steering issues this way and far more difficulty holding the bend. A couple times ended up jumping in and out of a 4' space (yikes!) and often straightened on the last 1/2 stride. But in the end we got it. And we got it perfectly. Like I'm talking textbook. Knees up around ears, beautiful bascule, dead centre, held the circle line all the way around, right bend, etc etc etc. I was pretty thrilled.

Discussed afterwards with my coach about the fact that she's only done bounces once or twice before in the summer, and basically (as I suspected) he thought she'd done a lot more of it. The response "oh, well she's pretty smart then". Classic. Reminds me of the first clinic I ever took Zel to where the day before we went we did our fist ever bounce and the 2nd exercise of the day was two bounces in a row *g* And then jumping fences on angles which she had never done. hahaha Si @ least has *that* skill down! But sometimes you just have to do it and see what happens. So far I've always gotten amazing results from that.

She was so good though. And I loved that she didn't get frazzled by it. Like w/ learning shoulder-in the other day -- a little confused, but willing to try and figure it out w/o any form of meltdown. I've started *many* greenbeans (let's be honest, it's pretty much all I do), and I've ridden my share of the super-spinny, the willing but over-enthusiastic, the drama queens, the a-little-slow-but-tries-hard, the entirely-too-smart (these are usually my favs for entertainment value, but they're also at times the most challenging), and everything else you can imagine. But I've never had one like this who just stops and thinks about it, and then goes about it like there's nothing to it. And part of me is wondering how much of it is her age (she's 5 n half, almost out of her teen years, whereas I usually back them @ 2 and start them at 3) and how much is her personality. Cause if it's age, I'm thinking nobody gets broke before the age of 5 *g* (yeah not really, cause most 5 yo's are too strong for me to want to be just starting! but good in theory). And if it's just personality I got super-lucky :) She's certainly not the smartest horse I've ridden (those who knew Zel and Sugar -- esp those who knew them when I was starting them! -- will understand that). She does have to stop and think about things. But once she gets it, she's about as honest and willing as they come. And I'm starting to think that's worth an awful lot. I'm willing to give her time to think if in the end I'm left with a horse who can and will jump anything in front of her confidently. Methinks that's worth the time in the beginning. I'm a little concerned I'm getting spoiled though! I won't know what to do with the next normal greenbean! hahaha


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