Our lesson with Kelley on Friday, there was definitely a synergy with the lesson we had with Barbara on Tuesday, as we warmed up and worked on bending Cally so that she was keeping her head and chest bent in the direction she was heading around the ring. This involved exactly what I worked on on Tuesday, using a little pressure from the inside leg pushing out, and opening/flexing with a little inside rein, into a directing outside rein. Huh, odd how good training programs work together and get you headed (literally!) in the right direction. We then progressed onto what is often the case with a Kelley exercise–something that appears deceptively simple, but is difficult to do very well. (A friend who also rides with her blames this on Kelley’s math degree. I might have to agree.) It was basically a figure 8, but with small jumps set as you’re coming off the rail, maybe 3-4 strides into the loop, with you actually changing direction along the rail, sort of a smooshed-8. One jump was a wide, low oxer, the other a small bounce. And the goal was to keep her trotting in quietly and jumping softly, without rushing, and then stay straight and balanced into the corners, no cutting in. Cally was jumping really nicely, and while we had a few mental oopsies on the human part of the equation–in my attempt not to cut in, I may have concentrated a little too much on the corner, and nearly ran over the mounting block–we ended so well, with her going so quietly and softly, I felt very optimistic for our planned jumper excursion on Sunday.
Naturally, when I entered on Monday, the weather was forecast to be in the upper 40s and sunny; Sunday dawned cold and with a looming threat of some sort of precipitation. But I’d entered, and despite some misgivings about the weather, we headed up to Swan Lake. After I had to use hot water to unfreeze my trailer tire chocks from the ground. Yeah, cold. And it never got above freezing at Swan Lake, if the temperature gauge in my truck is to be believed. Brr.
This led to me showing in my Barbour, which was not the plan, as I had a black sweater and Under Armour underneath it. But I went in to watch a few rounds before me, of the Midget Jumpers, and everyone had coats on. And no one was getting around, there were not just rails everywhere, but one group of kids, were on ponies that were just having scary bad rounds, with dramatic, dirty stops and multiple rider falls. I really wonder about parents who keep kids in “programs” like this. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.
So I took my time waiting around to unload, chatted with some friends and a former barnmate, had some hot cocoa, and finally unloaded right as the class before mine was started. Fortunately, Cally stays pretty clean, and is easy to get ready, so into the warmup
circus ring we went. Because the ponies were still zooming around, attempting to get over things in the warmup, it was a little scary for a while, and we just worked on being good and quiet and responsive trotting around, and tried to relax and work out of the cold stiffness. We jumped maybe 4 fences, and put our number in to the order for the next class, where we were going second.
We headed into the ring with me not quite sure what I was sitting on, since warmup hadn’t really been what I’d have liked to do with her. And, you know, we’ve jumped exactly one course, at the Loch Moy HT, since I got hurt in July. So there were a lot of question marks there. But she picked up a nice canter, and headed right to the first fence, like she’d been doing it every day for years.
She was a bit confused by the one-strides, because we never jump those except as part of gymnastics at home, as they’re not allowed on lower level Eventing SJ courses. So she actually did the add there, but was otherwise so willing and game, and went around making it look, and feel, easy. We were the first horse to get to the jumpoff phase of the 2.B class all day, so apparently no one realized until I jumped off that they’d changed the jumpoff. Which meant I got eliminated for doing the course that had originally been posted. But we still finished 5th, given that we were one of only 5 in the class of maybe a dozen to get to the jumpoff. And given this round, how can you be anything but happy?
The next class was Power&Speed, and a lot of fences on a twisty track. I thought I knew where we were going, and while the course was riding really well, including two bending lines I thought were going to be tricky, she landed off a lovely jump at fence 6, and I went “where the hell are we going?” So I pulled up to a trot and sort of looked around, and some folks eventually yelled out “the grey line!” but by then we’d crossed our tracks, so while we did pick up a canter and go jump the grey line bending to a single oxer to finish the “Power” phase of the class, that was it for us. BUT, Cally has no idea that that wasn’t the plan or course all along, and she went perfectly, despite me not knowing where the hell I was going. And it was cold. So I decided to call it a day on that. She got tucked back into her blanket and fed some treats, and we headed home to warmth.
But we accomplished my goal of getting around some courses quietly and without (jumping) issues. I’m just not sure we need to do more jumpers; she’s obviously happier going around more like a hunter, and I’ve never gone to a jumper show where, despite my best attempts, I’ve been able to remember the courses properly. They’re just not the thing for us, I don’t think. But I was really happy just feeling how she went around, and after seeing video, am even happier with how good and steady she looks. I definitely think we’re on the track we need to be on for the year. Which is good, because unless it’s something with a ride time that’ll let me get in and out quickly, no more winter showing for me. Come on spring!