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Today we had our second lesson of bootcamp month.  It had been ugly, cold and quite snow the day before, and Barbara rode her Tuesday, so I slacked off and didn’t ride Wednesday.  Thursday dawned sunnier, and warmer at my house at least, so I optimistically headed off to the barn, bringing along Cally’s awesome OTTB pad from Two Socks Designs on Etsy, to rock for our lesson.  It looks super sharp on her, and I’m in the process of getting a custom pad for XC.

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Cally warmed up well, with a lot of walking, bending, circling.  Once we started trotting, though, she was a bit stiff.  Barbara said she’d been a bit stiff on Tuesday, and I’m guessing a lot of that’s due to the fact that the ground is terrible, either frozen hard or slippery icy wet, so she’s not moving around much, even out in the field.  Plus due to an injury, my farrier isn’t getting out to do her shoes til next week, and while they don’t look bad, they are a bit longer than they usually get, so that’s affecting her movement, too.  But once we did some serpentine work, and then progressed into the exercise we did last week, working on a few steps of inside flexion, pushing her out, then straightening with the outside aids, she was feeling pretty good.

So we attempted the next step in suppling, by asking her for a bit of counterflexion as we went around the circle.  This has always been a good tool with Cally, and as I really had to ask her to not just give a little, but really come through while counterbent, I totally felt a lightbulb go on, and as we’d straighten then return to proper bend as we went around the circle, she suddenly got so easy.  We even had to do two changes of direction across a short diagonal, counter-bent, then return to proper bend on the circle.  It was a really great, if somewhat difficult exercise, and one I’m definitely adding to our warmup routine.

The canter wasn’t quite as great as it was last week, mostly because I think my quarter was almost up on the pony ride–she’d worked hard, and really coming up and through at the canter is tough for her.  She tried and we eventually got a bit of nice round canter each way.  I think the next step there is to take our counterflexion exercise to the canter, so I definitely want to make sure I’ve already warmed up a bit with it at the trot when we start next time.

Next time, we’ve also already got a plan to work on our transitions, to sharpen them up and get her responding better.  She can have really lovely transitions, when I can take my time and set her up for them (especially the upward ones need set up), but that obviously would be better if it were the case all the time.  So next project, I see you coming!

Another project is also plans to send in our entry for the February Bascule dressage show.  I know I said no more winter showing, but this gets times, so I’m in and done, and Barbara is going to be there coaching, so I’d love the opportunity to see what showing with someone there to warm us up properly gets us. I’m guessing a good 5% in the score department.

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