Here there be dragons...

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

Day Three: Pick a number, any number :)

Are we more than half way through already?   Boooo - going WAY too fast!

So today we started out with our practice ride(s).  The girls are getting much better about *riding* (as opposed to going around and around the merry-go-round :); which required some minor reminding of arena rules but I was still really happy to see them venturing off the track.   

For my part, I was half intending to jump today.  I was reasonably certain I'd jump Athena, and the other two I had tentatively in the plans but on the "we'll see how it goes" category.   So I started with Jack who was on the ball today.  Right from the start he was in front of my leg and carrying himself, so I was pretty thrilled about that.   He also tensed in the scary corner, but didn't actually deviate from his line at all -- serious progress.   He was just trying with everything he had.  Which led me to feel he deserved a break from dressage :)   So I jumped him a bit -- he's very different from the horses I'm used to jumping.  To understate it *g*   Kinda like going from a Ferrari to a Mac truck.  Both have power - but they handle it differently!  So the jump exercise I'd set up involved a bending line.   And we jumped in with a beautiful lead change over the first fence, an easy 5 strides to a perfect distance, and out over the 2nd one with yet another beautiful lead change.   Sweet.   So I jumped him around a bit more playing with altering the bending line and the striding a bit and working on a wheel of death a bit.   And he was a superstar.  Did knock one rail, but after that figured out to get his feet out of the way and we were good to go.   So overall I was pretty happy with Jacksaurus today.  Gave him a big hug before I went to dismount and discovered my arms don't reach all the way around his neck >;-P  hahaha my new deciding factor for if a horse is too big for me to ride comfortably *g*

Next up was Charlie, who Chelsea had done an awesome job of warming up for me.  March break is spoiling me >;-P   He was moving forward and off the leg.  Beautiful!  So I did a little canter warmup and then jumped him around, and was amazed at how rideable he was.   Keep in mind - I teach riders on this horse all the time, but yesterday was the first time I've ever jumped him.  My schoolies jump so often in lessons, I don't want to stress them on top of that so I only ever jump them if I need to fix a problem -- and that doesn't happen often.  So I was expecting a mass-charge to the fence, but no he very quietly hopped over and cantered away.  hmmmm ok well how bout if we canter in?  Still no change.   Alright, well how about connecting a few fences into a course?   Did the bending line in 5, exactly the same as Jack.  Admittedly I didn't have time to read the paper between fences like I did with Jack, but still in rhythm and balanced and no franticness (yes that's a word!).   He does have a serious SPRING to his jump.  hahaha you can see where the power is.  But he also seems to not know entirely what to do with his feet, so he's going to spend the next few weeks doing tons of tiny fences to figure that out and then I think he'll be a little superstar.  And still the best attitude ever - he just keeps trying.

But omg what a difference in ride from Jack to Charlie.  Massive draft cross that's slow off the ground, to zippy little TB whose feet move faster than he can keep up with!   Was sort of interesting to have that much time to *think* when I was jumping Jack -- want to break down the phases?  Jump in slow motion!  hahaha but then going from that to Charlie...   Better sharpen up fast *g*

So then just to mix it up a little more, the girls took the boys to put them away and get ready for their jump lesson while I got on Athena.   Flatted her and she was a little tough but not bad and she softened pretty quickly.  Continued our daily work on canter adjustability (it's getting *much* better but still has a LONG way to go before we're competition ready).   Pretty good so jumped her around...   If you merged Charlie and Jack...  No - even then you wouldn't have Athena!  hahaha she's fast (Charlie) and super-willing (both -- can you tell I buy my horses in big part based on attitude?), but very downhill and unbalanced (two issues neither of the other two have), big and strong (Jack).  She also has Charlie's lack of body awareness -- she seems not always sure where her feet are.   However, she's also the one I've been working pretty consistently with so...   Jump her around a bit and she was being very sloppy.  hmmmm ok, let's make the jumps a little more respectable..  Crank the height up to solid PT/T range - which we haven't jumped in AGES since we've been working on total basics.  And she sharpened up into an absolute superstar.  She only tried to tank me once and even then she was back within three strides.  I was a little stunned :)  And pretty excited.   And she too did the line in a steady 5 with all lead changes.   Sweet.

So I was pretty stoked and was cooling out my horse and goofing around a bit when I noticed the girls in the viewing lounge -- sweet!  They're ready to go, we're set...  Wait...  Their horses were still in the field?!?!?  Love the view from the top of a horse :)   Mentioned that they might want to go get them since their lesson was going to start in about 10 mins >;-P  hahaha credit to them, they got them in and tacked up in record time!

Athena got a nice drink and a carrot and turned out to play with her pony and I went back in to teach the girls to do the same exercise I'd just schooled.  So all warmed up -- Rebecca with her first ride on Apollo -- and had some good ideas what should be included in said warm-up so that's good.   Then I had Olivia and Chelsea dismount and walk the line they were going to ride (Rebecca got a pass simply because Apollo's not a huge fan of people mounting).  How many strides?   Got answers of 10 and 8 respectively.   Now, given enough experience, you *could* put that many strides in by bending the line WAY out :)   I didn't tell them what I expected to see -- just let them go try it.   By committing to a number they'd remember one way or another...   So Olivia went first, and swung way out, and got EIGHT strides with Nick.  hahaha awesome.  Not way off for a first time ever walking a non-gymnastic line; combining her ride with Chelsea's answer provided perfection *g*.  Lissy did it in a trot/canter combination on the first try, and on Chelsea's second I think did it in 5 (I might be mis-remembering that though - if so, sorry Chelsea!)   Apollo did it beautifully in 6 -- complete with both lead changes!   Actually all of them were being pretty accurate with their leads.  So we discussed a bit about under what circumstances you might choose which line -- I challenged them all to get 5, which they did.  Woohoo!  Nick was just about perfect.  Then all to get 8.  Lissy got to seven, but as they were seven *nice* strides (after several tries!) we deemed that a good start.  Olivia and Nick rode it like pros - both the 5 and the 8.   And Rebecca got it with Apollo too -- snuck in that last stride with a handstand, but they *did* get it in.  And Apollo was super-proud of himself!   We're going to miss Rebecca tomorrow when she's back at her grown-up job...

So all the horses got cooled out and let outside and all the riders got lunch :)   And it was sooooo nice eating outside in the warmth and the sun, watching the horses grazing (or sleeping!) in the distance and throwing rocks for Sasha.   Ummm yes, you read that right.  It's one of her favourite games.  Yeah I don't understand it either, but it amuses her and an excited puppy is an entertaining puppy so we played her game.   Our lunchtime discussion today followed up on the goal setting from Monday and then added to it by creating a training plan.  How, exactly, are those goals going to be achieved.   So they have a template to work with and homework for tonight :)   I was pretty impressed with the goals though -- they seemed very appropriate and the general  "immediate, short, long" term concept entirely grasped.

After lunch the girls each took care of their horse's stall and then brought them back in to tack up for dressage.   Today was their first time riding a real dressage test.  Aileen kindly volunteered her time and came out to scribe for me, so they could actually get their test the same way they would in competition.  Both girls put in a solid accurate test.  I was *really* impressed.  There were some details that need some work -- the occasional mis-remembering of the test, our friend Nick could go a little more forward, Lissy could use slightly cleaner transitions.   But overall I was very happy with it.  Nick's circles were perfectly round and Lissy was even on the bit for parts of it.   Woohoo!   And, of course, we were outside!  Which just makes it that much better.  On a warm sunny day.  Better still :)

A final grooming and dinner for the horses and then time to go home.  


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