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We did an early (for me!) lesson this morning, to try to beat the heat.  That didn’t really happen, because I was sweating by the time I carried my tack from my locker to my stall to get ready.  The plan was to keep the warmup pretty light, to maximize our working time.  Which was going all well and good until I hear Holly yell “get your heels down!” and simultaneously hear a loud roaring buzz.  I got Cally halted from the trot just in time for a pair of USNA helicopters to come buzzing over top the ring, just barely above the pine trees!  She was really, really good, just stood and went sort of stiff, with her head up, but didn’t move a foot.  Once they were gone, she walked on forward like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  What a GOOD GIRL!  Lots of pats, then we continued on with a light warmup, lots of serpentines and figure-8s, and circles at the canter.

After a quick breather, we started on a canter over a little gate set in the center of the ring, so we could make a big half-ring sized circle over it, working on just staying balanced and finding a nice quiet distance to it, and landing softly.  We did it coming from the right a few times, took a quick walk break, and Cally got a little sulky about having to still jump over little things a few times to the left, but after a couple times, totally relaxed and softened into a lovely lopey hunter canter, and we ended on what Holly said was “perfect” so you can’t get much better!

Another quick breather (one of these days I’ll remember to actually bring my water bottle to the ring with me!), and we started in on the real fun!  Holly had set a little gymnastic, trot-in crossrail and one stride to vertical one stride to vertical.  We started really small, like 2′ fences to let her get a feel of it, and after twice through, she felt good enough to start putting more fences into the mix.  I’m stealing the course diagram idea from Olivia over at HelloMyLivia, so things make a little more sense.

Gymnastic in white, rolltop in green, oxer in blue, vertical in red

The gymnastic line went up a bit, to 2’9-ish out, and then we kept our nice canter on around to the blue oxer, working on keeping a steady, balanced long approach. And it worked so nicely, no scary spot! We did that twice, then added in rolling back from the blue oxer to the green rolltop, which looked big, with a white plank above the back of it. The first time through, it rode great, maybe I sat back a little too much at takeoff not sure of whether she was going to leave long-ish or chip, but she left in a very happy forward long-ish spot that was perfectly huntery and nice!

Since that went so well, our next task was to really make a course of it–gymnastic line, long approach to the blue, rollback long approach to the green, around to the red vertical and then bending line in 5 back to the blue.  This really forced us to be handy, me to think but keep Cally moving forward in a steady way, and ride rather than just passenger, because our ring is too tight to dilly-dally around and take my time overthinking things.  I have to ride with a plan.  And it started out well, because Cally loves a gymnastic, and seemed to be having fun doing one as a part of a course, which isn’t really something we’d done before.  The gymnastic felt great, we had a nice jump and rollback over the blue, then I got too cocky about the nice gallopy spot from the prior trip around, and we got to an awful spot and launched, landing in a bit of a heap, but at least I remembered to slip my reins, so I could gather them back up and get us reorganized in the corner, but not quickly enough, because we weren’t straight on the approach to the red vertical, got crooked in the air trying to correct, and had it down, and opted not to go on to the oxer.

Holly was impressed I’d stuck it out and kept going after the green, and urged another try starting with the green, with a more controlled approach, and a better feel of my left rein coming out of the corner to keep her straight to the vertical and ready to bend through to the blue.  Much better, but not quite perfect, we got a little bobbly in the bending line.  One more time through and she nailed it, so soft through the corner from the green to the red that I could almost float the reins, and I looked up and at my fence better coming in to the bending line, so we nailed the 5 to the blue oxer and called it a great day on that!

Cally got a very thorough vetrolin bath after that, which she appreciated, and then I did a bit of scrubbing at her scratches, which she did not appreciate so much.  But it looks like I’ve got most of them off, so hopefully with some desitin on them over the next few days, we’ll get them gone.  For now, anyway.  They are the bane of the white-stockinged horse owner’s existence.  I’m not sure the mint she got was enough compensation, in her mind, but she’ll appreciate feeling better.

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