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This week was my second week of my new work schedule, and given that WBBF was actually in town, and there was no blizzard, this was actually the first week I’ve really gotten to get my schedule in order and figure out how getting out to the barn works on work days.  Since I’m now working Tuesday to Friday, 4 to 2, it gives me mornings free, and weekends.  I figured I can get out any time Saturday through Monday, and then Wednesday and Friday during the work week, so I tried to place this week, and get in a routine.

Monday was nice, because I could just take my time, any other day off.  I decided to put some braiding practice into effect, and try out the new braids I’d learned.

The three on the left are the “knot” type braids, and I really like how they look, especially the second one.  I need to experiment a little more with how to twist off  the rubber bands to tie them up, because it made a difference in how they sat on the neck, but they were so fantastically simple.  I didn’t like the one on the right, the more traditional “button” type roll-up braid, it just didn’t look as good on her neck.  Friends at the barn were pretty interested in the process and the clinic, and were asking about it, and the braids, so the two on the left were actually ones I did after riding.  I’m going to try, on days I’m not on a time limit, to put one or two in every ride, just to practice.

Wednesday dawned reasonably nice, so I was finally able to see how getting out before work played out.  I didn’t ride long, just a nice bit of flatwork with some really nice canter–the nicest we’ve had in a while, no porpoisy fishtailing or antics, just nice and forward and relaxed.  So she got lots of praise, and we headed down the somewhat soggy driveway for a walk in the fresh air, something we haven’t been able to enjoy in a while.

That actually worked out quite nicely–I can do a quick 30 minute ride, and get back in time to get cleaned up to head in to work.  And I was in such a good mood the rest of the day, having gotten to start the day off with a ride!  Win all around!

Then Friday, joy of joys, I actually got to have a jump lesson with Kelley for the first time in what felt like forever.  (It had been at least a month.)  The ring was a little busy, so we didn’t get to do our usual warmup of lots of circles and serpentines and lateral movements.  Kelley had me start off by asking her for a bit more stretch at the walk, likening it to asking her to touch her toes.  Once we had that, it wasn’t hard to get her to step into a nice round, swingy trot.  It didn’t take long before she was feeling very good, and Kelley was happy with how we were going, and was ready for us to start the day’s Deceptively Simple Exercise.  (They always are!)  We were essentially on a 20 meter circle at one end of the ring, where Kelley had set this:

So we were to make a 12M circle to the inside of all the poles, then move out to make a 15M-ish circle over the poles, then out again to make a 20M-ish circle over the jumps (that actually started out as one pole and one 18″ jump).  The first few times through felt a little rough, as I was having trouble keeping her bending through the turns with the poles and not turning it all into some giant egg shaped smooshy shape, rather than a true circle.  Then Kelley said something that made the lightbulb click on in my dimly lit brain: we were on the small circle, and she said to just let her drift out to the poles.  Ah-hah!  This was the SAME EXERCISE we’ve been doing in my dressage lessons, where we spiral into a small circle, then leg yield out a step or two to a slightly bigger circle each time around.  There were just poles in the way.  Suddenly, it wasn’t so hard anymore.  We changed directions, the jumps went up to actual jumps (like 2’3, not big), and it was so good!  I got it, so Cally got it, and we went right through, with her jumping the tight one-stride between the fences so well that she easily could have done the groundpoles as a jump.  We stopped on that, because for a horse who is long, and not necessarily the bendiest, this was a difficult exercise, and she Got It.  I was really happy with her, and proud I’d figured out the missing piece to make it make sense for me.

Maybe, just maybe, one of these days I’ll actually be kinda decent at this riding things.  Pieces are starting to come together, after 20 years.