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Cally’s been really fantastic lately.  We’d taken it pretty easy this week, after our epic trail ride on Sunday, so she’d had Monday and Tuesday off, and it was super hot Wednesday, so we bopped around the ring a bit, then had a nice bath.  But Thursday it had cooled off a bit, and we had a lesson.

I rarely ride Cally in long straight lines, especially while warming up, and do try to incorporate a lot of lateral work into our schooling.  But Holly had us do an exercise to warm up that was really good for her to supple her up and get her using her inside hind, without too much drilling.  We started with a shoulder-in down the long side, then basically did a volte back to the quarter line, and leg yielded out to the rail, then reversed to do the same move, so we were basically making a trot figure-8, but leg yielding through the cross over.  We only did it a few times, but it was enough to really get her using her inside hind leg nicely, without having to drill or make a lot of circles.  It’s definitely something I’m going to incorporate into our warmups, because engaging that inside hind is always such a challenge.

Then it was on to Cally’s favorite part, the jumping!  We did an easy, big circle around over a little vertical a few times each way, working on getting a nice consistent approach to a good distance, no gappy spots or deep chips.  Not all perfect, but good, and then the real fun started.  We trotted into a little “stone” wall, and cantered 4 to a gate, working on making the add steady, which was easy at the trot, and Cally was enjoying actually going over something she had to jump.

Over the gate

After we went through that line twice, we put together a bit of a course, and a tricky one at that. Things were set so you could jump them individually, nice and straightforward, or put them together with bending lines. We started putting them together with bending lines, making a figure-8 from oxer, bending 5 to plank, then around to vertical tricky bending 5 to gate. And I’m having a sudden realization as I’m typing this of WHY exactly Holly had me doing that leg yielding figure-8 to warm up. Hmm. Going to have to remember to use the leg yield in my curve of bending lines!

The first time through I was indecisive about whether we were doing the bending 5 or the direct 4 in the lines, and they were a little ugly. As Holly said, there are three options in a bending line, two of which are good, and one of which is that half stride and will be ugly every time, so I needed to ride into the line and make a choice of which of the two good options we were taking. Second time through was much better, even if Cally didn’t quite get her front end up quickly enough to the red vertical.

We took a breather then, had some water, and watched Holly’s adorable daughter go for a pony ride with another boarder. Then it was back to what can be a hit-or-miss exercise for us, the long approach to the single oxer. First time through, I let her go a little forward, and we nailed it.

Big oxer!

Holly asked if we wanted to end on that, because it felt freaking amazing, or do a bit of a test. Being a Type-A Overachiever, I obviously opted for Test. Which we really should start thinking about, since our MAEF entries have been sent in, so the eq tests are coming for us. We started with a trot fence, long approach to the oxer, tricky blind rollback around to the plank, then sharp right turn to the rail, finishing with a sitting trot. I was most worried about the blind rollback, because that was the kind of approach we had at Stirrup Cup Finals at McDonogh, and she’d hadn’t appreciated it.

Not bad overall, but it shows me what I really need to do is just put leg ON and go forward to close that chippy gap at the base. I know she’s going to go, and the gappy spot is always going to be a little better for her than the tight one. I do worry a bit that we’ve worked so much on her NOT taking flyers to things that she’s now been taught to chip, but it may be more a factor of my eye; I’ve spend so long keeping an eye on the fence, I think I need to start looking up a second sooner, which should hopefully encourage a more forward spot and not the chip. I’m going to have to experiment with that, but it feels like it should work.