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Really, that’s what they’re calling the weather we’ve been suffering under.  We had three straight days where the temperature wasn’t above freezing, so needless to say, Cally has had a lot of time off lately.

When I have been riding, I’ve been trying to make the most of it.  After not riding for 9 days, I hacked around Saturday and was very impressed at Cally’s good behavior.  Then, since she was exemplary, we did the barn gymnastic lesson with Susan on Sunday.  We started building up a bounce, then two strides to a vertical.  She woke up and remembered she was supposed to be bold and exciting, but was being good, just UP.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how well she did through the little course we made, rolling back from the line to a skinny, then rolling back, in a sort of S-curve, to another skinny set in between the first bounce.  She got a little quick in the roll back, but was totally game to the skinnies, if a little underimpressed at the 2′ fence size.  Since she was wanting to just run and step over stuff, after the others were done the exercise, I asked Susan if she could put the line up a bit so we could go through it once where she had to really jump it. She also made the line a bounce, two strides to another bounce.  Cally made it feel easy, and was happy to get to really jump something!

On that note, we called it a great day and she got treats and tucked into her warm stall out of the cold icy rain, and I went to lunch with friends from the lesson.

Fortunately, I worked during the two coldest days, so I had a good excuse not to come ride.  I hemmed and hawed on riding yesterday, in spite of the cold, since I had a lesson scheduled today, but I opted to stay home and warm.  Apparently for no worse effect.  We had our first lesson with Barbara today, and Cally was on her Saintly Best Behavior.  She watched us warm up, then I asked her to get on and ride a bit, just to get a feel and some idea of what we were working with.  It was great to see how well Cally went for her–the horse looked like a Real Dressage Horse, almost a Real Fancy Dressage Horse–and how quickly she got the horse.  Obviously, it’s the horse’s lack of strength that’s the cause of her being hollow into the canter transition, so even with a Grand Prix rider on her, that’s not going to change what she has the strength to do, even if she understands what’s being asked of her.  Barbara got not pushing and trying to MAKE Cally do something, and just patiently asked, and voila, happy relaxed swingy horse!  And oh my, when I got back on, that trot felt like I was on another horse!  But it felt great to know that it was in there, and when I manage to sit up while relaxing my back, and keeping my hands and elbows steady and level, and just wait and ask, I can get it too.  Clearly a large portion of getting things right is me learning to ride better, which I already knew, but it felt great to get on and get such results relatively easily.  Maybe I can just get an awesome pro to get on the horse for 15 minutes before every ride?

Hopefully I can do another dressage lesson next week, just to follow up closely and confirm what we worked on today, then fit them into my schedule as budget allows.  After how good Cally went today, it’s going to be like expensive dressagecrack, because I know how much we can improve, with the right hard work.  We’ve been doing it, slowly but steadily, so I’m feeling good about our plans for 2014!