After a month of barely being able to make it out to the barn, and trying to keep Cally in shape as best I can, on Friday I was finally able to take a lesson for the first time since early February! We had originally planned to haul over to Barbara’s for a lesson there, but given the amount of snow we got, those plans were revised, and she came over to Southwind for our lesson. Naturally, when I went to pull her out of the field, I see her standing there with what looked like a big bloody wound on her fetlock. Of COURSE. We headed straight into the indoor, and she jogged soundly on it, so I headed in to clean it up and see what was going on, and if a vet call was required. Turns out the big bloody wound was actually cleaner and wound treatment from the day prior, when she’d apparently gotten tangled up in her blanket leg straps, ripped them out, and cut herself on the clips. Because, of course. But since there didn’t seem to be much in the way of actual injuries, just some superficial stuff that had bled a bit. So I figured that she was sound on it, and it didn’t look too scary once it was cleaned off, so I decided to at least hop on and see what I had.
Surprisingly, under saddle, she felt pretty good once she got moving and loosened up a bit. I made the decision, after trotting a bit, that we’d give the lesson a go. Boy am I glad I did! I said that given the horse’s slight injuries, and fact she hadn’t been working too hard, and my threatening horrid headcold, I’d prefer to take it easy, but I wanted to work, and just do some work on getting her to loosen up and be a little suppler. We started off with some serpentines, getting her to give a bit and begin bending, then working on spiraling in and out at the trot, with a bit of counterflexion before we stepped out.
Then we did a bit of work transitioning within the gait, asking her to lengthen a bit, then collect. We did a couple of serpentines maintaining the same bend throughout, which was difficult, but even moreso than regular use of counterflexion, really got Cally thinking about bending correctly, and going where I pushed her with my legs. At that point I took a bit of a walk break, and asked Barbara to film a bit, so I could see us going, since she’d been very happy with us. She had us start with a proper serpentine, into a circle with some transitions within it.
Obviously, it’s not perfect. I need to work on keeping my upper body back, and using my legs to keep her pushing into contact better, so that she stays steadier in it. But she’s bending so much nicer, really listening to my seat in the transitions within gaits, and best of all, is using her back so much nicer than she was two months ago. I can definitely see how much the dressage we’ve worked on all winter has improved her.
Then, if that wasn’t enough fun learning for one day, I saw a posting on the PVDA Facebook page for a braiding clinic, being put on by a working student at a local barn. I though it might be a great opportunity to go figure out how to do dressage braids rather than itsy bitsy hunter braids, and I tend to learn something like that better by watching someone else do it in person. It was really good, as it was a lot of the lesson kids from that barn, so started off at a really basic level. Holy cats, the dressage braids seem SO EASY compared to hunter braids! Rubber bands! Just folding it up twice, or literally knotting it! I need to get some little braiding rubber bands to try some of these out on Cally, and see what works best, but I’m looking forward to trying that tomorrow.
Today, I decided that since we’d done OK for our dressage lesson, I might as well try to jump, too! I headed out for the barn gymnastic, where Cally at least had gotten a jump school last week. There were three of us this time, and none of us had jumped much, due to the weather, so we had a very simple 3 fence exercise to work with, two on almost a circle, and one smaller fence in a position a bit farther out, not quite in line with the circle. We started off with poles on the ground, and everyone was civil, so we went up to one tiny fence. I was going first, and arced from the groundpole around the end of the ring to the tiny fence, and prepared for a landing rodeo. Nope! Landed and cantered off nice as can be! Well, all right then! We’re down for more! Eventually we ended up making a sort of figure-8, incorporating the arc between the two fences to a loop around to the single vertical. We tried cantering it once, and it got a little wahoo-y, as it did for others in the group, so collectively we made the decision to trot things for the day. It paid off, because in the end, she was going around so nicely I could hardly believe that she hadn’t jumped since mid-January!
She was definitely feeling so good, and both of us felt so happy to be jumping again. Maybe just a little more enthusiastic about jumping things that didn’t really need jumped, but I’m not going to fault her for that, it’s more fun that way for me, too.
Hopefully now that it seems to be warming up–it’s supposed to be nearly 60 tomorrow!–we can get back into a regular work pattern. I’ve already entered us for a PVDA schooling show in mid-April, and almost have the paperwork and memberships together to sign up for the recognized VADA/NOVA show at Morven the beginning of April. We’ll see how we do with Training 1 and Training 2 at both of those, and hopefully start working on getting the scores we need for Year Ends and All Breeds. It’s shaping up to be a good year!