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Winter has hit the mid-Atlantic hard this year; it’s not just cold, it’s been icy and snowy and frigid.  So getting up the motivation to ride, let alone having decent footing to do it in has been a challenge.  For most of the last week and a half, our ring was pretty much this snowscape.

Needless to say, that wasn’t too conducive to any real work. I was basically doing walk work along the driveway. Leg-yield zig-zag, turn on the forehand/haunches, rinse repeat a few times. Just to try to get her using herself a little and loosen up her back.

By this weekend, things had been clearing up a bit, and we were actually able to do a little bit of walk/trot/canter work in the big outdoor ring. I mean, not anything too intensive, and I was expecting a bit of fireworks, because I knew her back was tight, which is often the time she does a bit of bucking at the canter trying to get herself loosened back up. We did a lot of long and low stretchy trot work, just letting Cally swing through her back and stretch herself out. She felt great, and no shenanigans at the canter! But she did keep looking longingly up the hill to the jumping ring, which was still rather sloppy.

That wasn’t going to happen even if it wasn’t sloppy, because I decided to trot over a few of the groundpoles that were sitting along one side of the ring. The spacing wasn’t perfect, but they weren’t crazy off, enough that a time or two through wouldn’t be a big deal. Except while the trotting wasn’t too dramatic, but once she was through, Cally shot off like we were coming out of the starting gate. Pulley rein was required to stop.

So we had to go back to Remedial Groundpoles. Walk over poles, halt, turn around, walk through poles, pick up trot, halt. Trot through poles, halt. It got a lot less dramatic and a lot more boring. Cally was just excited to be doing something, and that excitement had to go down a few notches. Once we got there, she was back to her normal ho-hum self.

I got home from the barn to work on the insane bathroom renovation we’ve taken on this winter, and worked on that until a knock at the door announced mail delivery, and the arrival of the gorgeous Mears cutaway coat I’d ordered from England. It should be perfect for sidesaddle, and I was crossing my fingers that it fit. Because it was on clearance, and came from England, so there was no returning it.

And lo and behold, it did! And it’s gorgeous. Plus it came with those faux vest-points, so I don’t need to bother with a whole vest for dressage stuff, which is great. The not so great part is that it’s a completely different shade of navy than the apron I already made, and the melton I’d bought. So I checked at the little fabric store down the street and remembered why I don’t shop there (it’s nearly all fleece and quilting fabrics).  I emailed Mears about possibly having an apron made to match, and am waiting to hear back.  But I’m also going to try popping up the road to Rockville, where there is still one good fabric store with actual clothing fabric so that I can look at stuff in person with coat in hand to try to match colors.

Then today I went out to ride, and the footing was just lovely in the jumping ring.  I’d been planning to do some more flatwork to help build Cally’s topline back up and get her moving well, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, given that it’s supposed to snow again tomorrow.  So we warmed up a bit and she felt fantastic, so down we trotted to an itty bitty cavaletti vertical.  And over it like to big deal, halted politely, and trotted around and did it again.  Once she realized we were jumping some things, she was a little more excited and we had a few moments where reminders that brakes existed were needed.  But we managed to school over a few things, and it felt so amazingly good.  Both Cally and I were having fun, and it felt so great.  We even ended with a little course around from crossrail to a little oxer back around to the little vertical.  That was a nice ending point, and it left me feeling confident that it’s not going to take a ton of work to get us back to showing shape for the year.  Especially if we’re starting off with some dressage and two sidesaddle shows, where it will be mostly flat with just one 2’6 line in the hack for sidesaddle.

As frustrating as it may be to try to ride around the weather (or even get to the barn because I can’t dig out of my parking lot!), I feel optimistic about our upcoming year.  I just have to keep powering through and doing the best I can to keep us fit and ready.

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