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After getting a week off last week due to both foul weather and the fact that my only days off work were Traffic Nightmare Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day, I’m on staycation this week, so I’m getting a lot of quality Cally Time. As if to make up for last week’s miserable weather, it’s been pretty nice so far this week.  Cally rather likes it!

Ready to ride!

To make the most of my week, Wednesday morning we hauled down the road to Kelley’s for a lesson there.  After warming up in the ring, we went out into one of her fields of little XC fences.  We started off by working on our balance by making a bit circle–maybe 30 meters–around in the field, on the edge of a gentle slope, so that we were going up and down hill as we went around the circle.  It was enough that I did have to think about our balance, but we also worked on me letting to and letting her balance herself.  She’s surprisingly better at it downhill than up, which surprises me because she’s so heavy in her neck and shoulders, but I guess it’s self preservation of not wanting to go tumbling arse over teakettle downhill, while she can get as inverted as she wants to get uphill with no real consequence.  I worked on keeping my reins what felt like incredibly short, but really are the length they need to be to keep soft contact and her head up on XC.  After  trotting and cantering these in good balance, including some really lovely upward transitions to the canter, we moved on to jumping.

“Jumping” might be a bit of an exaggeration, since they were telephone poles set into the edge of the slope we’d been working on.  We were mostly working to keep our pace quiet and steady, and keep the balance we had before.  We started at a trot, just staying nice and steady, which took a few tries, because she got a little revved up when she realized we were jumping out in the field.  We then did it at a canter, with the addition of another slightly larger log, at a bending line from the second log, then turn and reverse back downhill through the same exercise.  She was starting to feel quite nice, and I almost had a bit of showjump canter out there, which was pleasant and new.  Not always what I’d want on XC, but a nice option to have.  We did a few other exercises bending through the logs, including downhill to a 20 meter circle on the slope.  I was really happy with how well she handled everything.

So our homework for the winter is, weather permitting, to get out of the rings and ride on a bit of terrain and do some work on it, not just mosey around, as much as possible.  I think I can make that happen!