Ok, not really, but it felt like it. Today was the hottest day of the year so far, but it also happened to be a) the only day I was off work when b) the competition course at Loch Moy was open and c) my coach was available for a lesson. Due to that confluence of events (and not realizing it would be 136492384 degrees when we scheduled it), we packed ourselves up in Laurie’s rig and headed over to school, with a moderate amount of trepidation.
The horses were sweating when we unloaded, so they got sponged a bit before we even got on, and then we warmed up very lightly. I did a little mosey through the wooded area while Laurie finished tacking up and mounting, then essentially trotted a circle or two, then cantered a circle roughly the size of a dressage arena before coming back to walk a minute. Then we started out warming up over a little log rolltop, which seemed to take Cally a bit by surprise, like she was startled we were jumping something already, but she went over it, if a little sticky. Came around again and it was happy and forward and YAY WE’RE JUMPING AND NOT MAKING CIRCLES! The log was conveniently next to the water complex, so we then did a nice pass through of the water–first at the walk, then trotting through the second time–on back around to the little log rolltop.
We then progressed across the XC field to the little BN ditch. Cally has never had a problem with ditches, mostly, I think, because we pop over the little one along the driveway at Southwind almost every time we walk down the driveay, so it’s never been any big deal. It wasn’t today, either; she was lookier the second time through, when we circled back around to jump the “brush” log that was presumably the option fence at the HT. She was definitely locking on and going though, which was a really great feeling. Then we did log down to a little gate, with a really lovely 50 yard stretch of gallop in between that felt great, for the breeze if nothing else! That left us next to the other water complex, which is a little more advanced, so we just settled for passing through it a few times, including Cally happily and voluntarily cantering back through it. She was really feeling like she was in the zone!
Then we headed over to the little bank complex. Cally is great with banks, I still struggle with riding them well. We went up and down the little mound fine, then trotted up and dropped straight off a pretty reasonably sized (Novice?) bank without a fuss. At least on her part; I still struggle with slipping my reins and not feeling whiplashed on landing, but I’m getting better and staying balanced and absorbing the shock of the landing. We came back around, in a bit of a sprial, doing the mound straight to a little rollstop, around and down off the bank. It definitely felt better the second time.
Coming back across the field, heading for a drink break for woman and beast at the trailer, Carol had us pass through the big water, canter the gate to ditch to a big knobbly log that was definitely bigger than BN level. The first time, she got really leany and rushy between the gate and ditch, so I pulled her up and circled, and we came back through and did the gate to ditch, and I rode a big half-halt between the two, enough that she rebalanced herself and jumped nicely, so we headed on down to the log, which was big enough (Novice? maybe even Training?) that she actually had to jump it rather than taking an extra springy canter step. Whee, I love that feeling of her coming up and round and just soaring over something. It’s a hell of a jump to stay with, but it feels so amazing. Then we went back over to the trailer where I sponged her off a bit and offered her water (which she of course she didn’t drink) and I chugged half a bottle of Gatorade before remounting to tackle the more serious ditch in the woods, and another bank.
We’d jumped the ditch in the woods during the unfortunate starter HT there earlier in the year, and much as she did then, she looked a bit, due to it being in a weirdly light dappled location, but she went right over both ways. Then we headed down to my nemesis, the up bank. I just struggle with what to do with my body, and I always end up getting way ahead. Which, naturally, I did the first time we jumped it, pulling a full on Richard Spooner going up, prompting only the comment “do that again.” We did, and I sat up and stayed soft, and what do you know, I didn’t whack my horse on the hip with my spurs that time. Down was a bit bobbly the first time, mostly because I didn’t slip the reins enough, and what I did slip, I didn’t gather up very promptly. We came around again, and had a lovely down bank, galloped up the little hill and right through the water like pros. We called it a day well ridden on that note, and headed back to douse both of us with cool water, and offer hydration.
Cally looked very grateful to return home to her breezy stall and box fan, while Laurie and I celebrated an excellent day’s schooling with the cold deliciousness that is Jimmie Cone.