Here there be dragons...

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

Time to cut the grass!

So with riding the tendency is to improve greatly, plateau for a bit - which is frustrating, and then go backwards - which is far worse.  The only plus side to this -- is when you leap OFF the plateau and start climbing your way back up again, it's pretty amazing :)

Athena and I have been on the plateau before.  I've been there in the past - I recognize it; I know it's normal;  that doesn't make it any easier.   And then we slid backwards.  Fast.   My "almost ready to upgrade" suddenly was barely even managing to trot fences safely *sigh*

But we got off the downhill slide and back to where we'd been before in time for Will O Wind last week. That experience has its own post :)  So after WoW we took it easy for a day or two and then started back to work.  And we were pretty much back on our frustrating plateau.

Then Friday rolled around...  And for a whole variety of reasons (not the least of which was our atrocious showing on Saturday) I deemed it dressage day and dressed accordingly.   Athena was exceptionally stressed while I was tacking up.  She's always a *little* high-anxiety, but this was way more than usual, so I figured I was in for a ride-and-a-half.  But when I got on, she settled right away.  Sweet.  So my coach arrived and I explained what had happened in dressage and talked for a bit about the jumping (he'd seen the video - yeah social media!).  And then we got to work.  

OMG was that lesson ever *intense*.  Seriously detail-oriented, every stride, and even some off-horse work.  The end result?  Dressage way beyond anything I'd ever thought Athena would be capable of.  The kinda stuff Zel could do in her sleep, but Athena struggles to even come close to.  And I felt I was riding *really* well.  So I was pretty stoked about that too :)  As my coach put it "just wanted to push you to the next level" - yeah.  I'm good with that.

And then today I took her to the Leslie Law clinic at Eventing Canada.  And really - horses don't care what a superstar rider you were the day before.  They want to know what you can do today.  For better or for worse :)  She warmed up acceptably; not brilliant but not horrible -- she was relaxed, but not really through or bending.  In the warm-up Leslie's focus was on accuracy of aids -- he reviewed the various rein aids and made sure all the horses were moving well off the leg.  Sound like dressage?  Yup, she was a little stiff after yesterday, but mostly all good.

And then we started canter poles.  And it fell apart.  As, let's be honest, it generally does when we try to do canter poles.  Soft and ok on the turn, good over the first one, grab bit and charge to the ground.  hmmmm  Ok try again.  This time break to trot.  *sigh*  Try again.  Grab bit earlier and charge.  Trip over pole.  Break to trot.  Lovely.  So finally I gave up and asked if there was anything I should try...  The response?  "I'm going to get on her."  Very kewl.  hahaha I love when clinicians get on my horse -- it never used to happen with Zel, but I've had a couple since then that they'd get on :)   Anyways - I have to admit I was glad to see her be a little snarky to him too :)  Even threw a couple bucks *g*  hahaha  But once they finished their discussion, he got her going nicely on the flat and then tried the poles...  And crashed into a tree afterwards.  Or two.  hahaha but eventually he had her cantering through the poles in a reasonable fashion -- not *good* yet, but reasonable.  He rode her for significantly longer than I would've expected.  And when I got on I had a MUCH softer horse.  Sweet.  He had me focus on a stronger hand with a softer elbow -- a good combination as it worked out brilliantly.   It took a few tries, but soon enough she was cantering through the poles and over the jumps like a pro-star.  We even managed to fit 9 strides in a 7 :)   I won't say it was 100% perfect -- there *might've* been a broken pole...  Oops :)  But other than that, she was a complete superstar.  I was pretty thrilled.  HUGE thanks to Kirby for grooming for me today and Arthur for hosting!

So yes, after a long while that's one show and two lessons that seem to imply things are finally going the direction they should be.   Yeah!!!!   Off to Equus tomorrow :)

Oh and the subject line?   See this post from my working student days :)


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