Here there be dragons...

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Lucinda Green Clinic - Day 2

So. Much. Fun.

Very tempted to just leave the post at that line.  Summarizes fairly well I think :)   But I suspect people might be less-than-thrilled with me for it.  But that being said, I'm known for only writing about day 1 of clinics so even just three words is improvement right?

hahaha ok so on with it.  XC am dawned cold but, thankfully, dry!  Got to the farm with lots of time to feed and water Athena and let her digest before her ride.  She was clearly tired after yesterday given that my somewhat psyc weaver was standing quietly.  Looked good on her *g*

Went to the indoor to w/u.  Knowing that she was tired and had 2-hours of xc ahead of her, our w/u consisted of a reasonable length walk, lots of leg yields, and a fairly short trot set which showed me that she was moving remarkably well and not stiff or sore at all from yesterday.  Sweet!   The other riders seemed much of the same mind as only one was really working in the w/u -- the rest were more wandering...  Fair enough :)

Followed Lucinda out to xc.  She had us do a quick w/u on our own over fences again with instructions to jump some little fences until we felt our horses were leaving the ground and then come back.  No ditches or banks.  No more than 5 mins.  So we all went our own ways -- there were only a handful of jumps that met that criteria, but everybody was sharing nicely *g*  And soon we were all ready to play.

We were originally going to start with some ditch work, but the ditch on that side of the property ended up being a little too intense, so we switched gears and went to play on the bank instead.  We walked up and down, stopping on a straight line as per yesterday.  And then the skinnies came out.  hahaha  bending lines of course with three-foot skinnies balanced on caveletti blocks.  All sorts of combos: log, skinny, bank, skinny and back again.  And every variation you can think of.   Athena tried her little heart out.   You could see she was a little overwhelmed by the idea, but she held her line and figured out what to do with her feet.  It occasionally took us a bit to get the halt at the end, but she did manage to navigate all the questions.   For a horse who really started experiencing skinnies yesterday, I was pretty impressed!

Then it *was* time to go to the ditch.  We had already discovered that two of the more experienced horses really weren't feeling ditches today, so Lucinda asked if any of us could get our horses over.  The other two riders seemed pretty hesitant to commit to it, so I told her I thought we probably could :)   The only ditches she's ever done were at Grandview and they were super-inviting which this one was not entirely, but she's tried everything I've ever asked her so I had high hopes.  One of the other riders threw in his vote for "the little black mare" being the one most likely to succeed, so away we went.  Nice forward walk.  Slip the reins and stay back.  Athena's head goes all the way down INTO the ditch.  And then...  she gamely hopped over it!  hahaha I was so proud of her!   And then we did it a couple dozen more times giving leads to everybody else till she was bored :)   Woohoo!

The ditch got built up into a coffin (using show-jump fences) which she was a little stickier at, but she did it.  Then we worked on a half-coffin by angling fence A and then jumping the wider half of the ditch on an angle.  That she did quite well, but admittedly because she was last to go and was rather frantic to catch the other horses galloping up the hill away from her towards home!   But hey, whatever works right? :) We also got to do it the other way with the ditch first to the vert which she found comparitively easy.

Next step was to move to the *actual* coffin which was far more substantial than anything I've jumped with her xc yet.  Admittedly not saying much since she's only really jumped entry fences and the occasional pt jump, but still.  Walked her over the ditch and cantered out over B.  A little iffy because she's still *really* unsure about jumping out of the walk, so turned around and went the other way at a trot to far more success.  Then Lucinda offered us the chance to school the full coffin.  I was the only one who hesitated a second which drew a puzzled look -- understandably since my super-pony clearly has a good heart and no ditch issues -- so I felt the need to clarify it wasn't the jumps that concerned me -- it was cantering down the hill!  Coordination and balance in the canter aren't our strong suit :(   And really most of what we'd done both yesterday and today so far had been out of a trot.

So Lucinda suggested just cantering down the hill since clearly she needed practice and either skipping the jumps all together or if I felt things were going well to take the B and C elements.

How long have you been reading my blog?  I'm guessing most of you will know exactly what ended up happening *g*  We cantered down the hill, me fighting her all the way for some semblance of balance and rhythm, and... well...  the A element was in the way of B and C...  So of course we jumped all three.   I'm only wimpy till we start moving :)  Once we start going, my brain switches into xc mode and we're good to go.  Pretty it was not.  Effective it was.  There was no way I was going over that ditch without her *g*  She jumped A long and then got frazzled but thanks to the "emergency rein contact" from yesterday when I had to slip the reins over A we were still good to go for old-school pony-club "just keep kicking" methodology which got us over the ditch.   But of course she way over-jumped it giving a wicked chip to C.  *sigh*  Ugly.  Lucinda seemed fairly amused by the whole thing "you know I only *said* do B and C" and just as I was about to apologize for adding in w/o permission she follows up with "but I LOVE that you did all three."  And as I'm all happy with that "very brave of you to attempt that with that canter!   It's a good thing you can keep your balance in the middle of your horse."  hahaha yeah ok -- methinks that was a not-so-subtle hint I'd crossed the line from bravery to stupidity there.  *sigh*  But despite its ugliness I was still super proud not only that she got through it, but that she jumped out confidently even from a tricky spot.  And she landed *really* proud of herself.  So pretty stoked about that.

Next step - Weldon's Wall.  That's right -- a vertical fence with a ditch in front of it.  A ditch they generally don't see till the last stride.  Oh good.  So we all did the little one -- Athena hesitated slightly but jumped it cleanly on the first try :)  Then we were given the option of the little one again or the big one.  Funny how this time the option wasn't really directed at me.   If you're not sure which one we picked, read the above paragraph.  She FLEW over it.  Only thing is, she was once again *very* much focused on catching the horse in front of her, *not* on what she was doing.  A little terrifying as that is not the type of fence you want an out-of-control pace to.  *sigh*  She did clear it beautifully and in stride.  I'm not convinced she even saw the ditch though so less-useful as a schooling exercise.  After that it was determined that she should not follow anybody   Not that it mattered as the rest of the exercises we ended up doing all involved turns so it was never again a case of catch-me-if-you-can.

We moved on from ditches at this point to the fairly steep up-down bank.  If you go up the lesser-slope it's two steps, but we were going up the side which is basically a climb.   Did it once or twice and then skinnies appeared on either side of it.  Who's surprised by that?  Yeah I wasn't either *g*   "But don't worry," Lucinda assured us, "these are wide skinnies.  Five feet!"  Right.  Wide skinnies.  About that.  hahaha but to be honest, after the skinnies we'd been doing earlier, five feet did indeed seem wide and neither fence was an issue for anybody.  My biggest issue was keeping Athena's hocks under her on the down and not leaping off the bank (which would've WAY overshot the skinny).  But she really tried and pulled it off.  Then a little coup-type thing got added in; this one we were given permission to skip.  I'm not entirely sure why - size maybe?  But she landed in balance from the skinny and focused really happily on the coup that we jumped it anyways.  She definitely really enjoys those types of fences.  Big, wide and nicely curved are exactly her thing :)   She's seriously uncertain about anything technical, but just plain solid is np.

Then we got to play in the water.  Walk in, trot out.  Trot in, trot out.  Trot in, trot out over barrels.  Trot in, trot out up a bank.  All no problem.  The first couple walk/trot in she wanted to have a VERY careful look and seemed to have some trouble keeping her feet under her.  I seriously thought we were going swimming.  But she figured it out and was soon gamely trotting through.

Jumping out was np.  BUT then we were to drop off the bank in.  That was more of a challenge for her -- she hesitated and danced around on the bank for a good long while.  But just as Lucinda was starting to ask one of the other riders to give her a lead, Athena gathered up her courage and took a great leap in :)  Woohoo!
Ok...  If you *really* want to!
Such a good heart that one.   We landed with a slightly less-graceful splash but good to go and continued out over our barrels.  After that she quickly gained confidence and by about the 3rd time was stepping off quietly.   After the years of wild launches with Si, it was such a relief to have a horse who figured it out and chilled out about the whole situation.  She's going to make such an awesome school horse next year!

To end the clinic Lucinda gave everybody the opportunity to play and school over whatever they wished.  Athena though was clearly done so I left her on that.  She was still high -- I didn't dismount and walk her as I usually would as I knew I'd have more control on top and she was still bouncing.  But I could feel the high was adrenaline not strength.  She was really tired.  So we watched the others for a few moments and then walked her back.

So end result: I have a horse who feels ready to take on the world, Lucinda remains one of my favourite clinicians, and I had a TON of fun :)   All good really.   She expects her riders to smarten up and pay attention, but if you're on the ball and make an effort you'll get a ton out of it.

Line of the day from Day 1:  "You make ugly look beautiful"
Line of the day from Day 2:  "Wow.  You're *really* brave."

hahaha didn't know exactly how to take either, but both made me laugh :)   And as we all know, that's a great thing to do while riding :)   Can't wait till the next clinic!


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