Here there be dragons...

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

Superpony achieves the previously impossible...

Had a jump school today. Weather delayed my coach long enough that we were properly warmed up by the time he got there, so that was a promising beginning. So he's setting fences as I'm flatting and inwardly just started to cringe. By the second fence I knew what he was building -- one of my fav exercises with Zel, but when we tried it with Sienna a few months ago, we failed horrendously. Was just so far beyond her abilities, even at the simplest level; what Zel had done so easily she was completely incapable of. Not fun.

The week after that rather disastrous attempt my coach had shown up with intent to school some of the pieces in hopes of improving said disaster -- but I was in a different place that day and asked some questions that led to an entirely different (and arguably more useful) lesson. And by the week after that my coach had moved on too *big sigh of relief*.

So I'm watching him set this up thinking "here we go again" but sobeit. The big issue for us here is the first gymnastic is on the centre line -- which means you both start and finish w/ a half 10m circle. W/u fence was np of course -- it's always the same and Si gets it now. Landing was a little dodgy the first couple times, but we got it together. Was very impressed the one time we were debating over which way to go on landing - left/right/left tempis. hahaha they were more motorcycle style than anything you'd ever see in the dressage ring, but they were clean and calm which are both things Miss Sienna isn't known for so I was happy at that (my coach was not as amused :).

2nd fence goes up on the center-line and the two angles get added in. Still no problem, we're trotting in and our first jump is past X so it's all good. Lots of time to get straightened out *g* Landing left took a couple tries but soon we had it so we could land and go either way and canter through the corner to the diagonal (to put this section in perspective, last time we tried this, leads were not bad but not terribly consistent, and we never managed to make the turn in the canter; sometimes didn't even make the turn at all). Then same exercise with the approach in canter. Frig. That horrendous turn that caused all kinds of trouble last time. But at least we have half a ring to get straight so can cheat (uh, I mean recover! that's it :)

Well she did it. It wasn't entirely brill, but she made the turn onto the line and held it without any real drama or concern. Thereby proving strength, coordination and balance have all improved significantly. This was where we had failed horrendously last time -- the exercise never got past that point. In fact if we're honest it never got TO that point. N so I was good to end there, but I could see from the standards that my coach had grander plans.

Sure enough, the next two fences in the gymnastic are put into play (the end result being pole, bounce, one stride, two stride; there was also a ground pole in the middle of the one-stride, and the two was an oxer. All the fences were <2'9 though, so nothing scary. Well nothing scary except the turns!). So the first time we were allowed to trot it (thankfully!) She definitely looked at the bounce ("Where did THAT come from??? I'm supposed to have time to think here!") Which, esp w/ the pole in front of it, meant that as you come off the 10m turn the pole is there. There is no time to overshoot and get straight -- thereby removing my cheating ability. Booo. But she did the whole thing and kept her little brain fully involved. Same thing off the harder rein which was a little more frazzled, but we survived.

And then... "Do it in canter." I definitely had a moment's hesitation before picking up that gait. Easy way first (I'm not new here :). Forget any doubts about her ability to turn, straighten and jump, and just do it. Ride the horse you want her to be. So I gave myself the entire long side to get through my mini mental games and to get her canter established (speed/balance/impulsion -- we used to only have speed. Too much of it!) And she did it. The turn wasn't perfectly balanced -- there was definitely some leaning involved, but really I was still pretty impressed. We made the turn bang on with enough impulsion that the gymnastic was a complete non issue and enough brain that we could get through that and keep going to the diagonal. I was thrilled. And ready to leave it.

But no, we have to do it the other way. Now to put this in perspective, I have *never* been able to make that tight a turn to the right in the canter. Not on the flat. Certainly not when she'd have to jump anything. And as was noted, you turn and the jump is THERE. There's no space for correction. Well I have to admit we overshot it a little bit, but I was able to apply my cheating techniques for good -- we jumped the bounce on an angle right to left which put us right dead centre for the rest of the gymnastic. And she did it honestly and without getting frazzled by it (she doesn't usually care for bounces so I wasn't sure what she'd think off angling one off a tight turn). And the rest of the exercise was textbook. Seriously. Amazing canter through the other (equally tight but easier due to walls turn) and the single fence on the angle perfectly on stride with no galloping away towards home. hahaha.

So that still needs some work, but really, the difference between this time and the last time was astonishing. I was sooooo excited. Another 6 mths and it might become one of my favs again *g* Sooooo proud of the superpony. N really, I think she was feeling pretty proud of herself too!


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