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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, not for lack of doing anything, but mostly due to too much going on.  Through July at work, we were dealing with the political conventions, which didn’t leave a whole lot of time for anything else other than just trying to keep me and Cally fit.  Which wasn’t helped by the heat, either; the WBTA show we were planning on was rescheduled to October, and we’ve been trying to ride early and be done by 11 or so, which is when my lessons usually started.

I did manage two even more fun than usual lessons during July.  First was with Holly’s mother, who’s an R judge and very experienced bringing Big Eq riders through the ranks, which was a great experience.  We were part of an early morning group lesson.  Started with some really solid flatwork, asking us for transitions within gaits and our positions, and without stirrups.  Which was definitely the most non-stirrup work I’d done in a while, and Cally was good about it until I had to try to pick up my irons, which was hard with the light plastic ones bouncing around.  But our quarter was up by that point, and Cally was DONE with flatwork by the time we got to working on adjusting stride length, so the right lead portion of that was a bit dicey, though we got it in the end.

After a water break, we worked over a steep X on getting the distance we want, alternating between the long spot and the deep spot, and since Cally loves the long spot, we ultimately ended up going through a few times and asking her for the deep spot.  Then we moved on to a much harder exercise, an S though two six strides, which was so hard.  Mostly because Cally is not the nimblest horse, and when she tries to swap leads with a big bouncy change in that turn, it’s impossible to get her there.  I only managed it all once, so working on more complicated lines is definitely on our agenda for the future.  Then we all headed down to the bottom ring to do a course and just get a score, almost like a fix-a-test.  Cally was great there, other than getting a bit quick and flat over one fence that was still pretty small that she decided wasn’t worth her time and nicked it down.  But the big oxer in the middle?  Nailed it!  I was really happy with the lesson, which was intense and a great learning experience for us.  Just working with a group was fun, since due to my work schedule, I rarely get to do that.

Then just before I left on a mini-vacay, I got to do a lesson on one of the other horses in the barn, Aly.  He’s a TB, but the most WBy Thoroughbred ever.  You need spurs and a stick with him, massive and super chill.  I really had to adjust my ride on him, because he’s an old eq pro, done a ton of the 3′ medal stuff all over the place, and Knows His Job.  He’s also enormous, and made everything look tiny, and I fit him really well.  I really had to work over fences to not do so much, and just let him do his job.

And I also had to really think about keeping my weight in my heels and keeping them down, because he’s pretty lean, and there’s less to wrap my leg around.  But the canter was up there with the nicest I’ve ever ridden, and it was so easy to equitate if I just let myself relax and go with it rather than trying to micromanage.  So that was a great learning experience.

The day before I left on vacation, I slipped in a quick ride aside, which I haven’t done in a while.  Cally didn’t miss a beat, and felt great.  I really need to make an effort to do it once a week or more, and make sure I jump things when I do.

Because, as you can see, we totally can do it.  I just have that moment of “OMG, this is scary!” still, and don’t feel so confident. But it’s getting better, and once we go over it once, I’m not nervous about it anymore, and we can nail it.  And we need that to really be competitive next year, and jump aside more.

Then I went off to Colorado for a week, where it was a nice and cool and great for hiking, but not so horsey. Cally got lots of rides with Liz while I was away, so she’s still in fighting form. But this weekend it’s so ungodly hot (it was 101 actual degrees yesterday, not even factoring the heat index) that it’s not a weekend that I can even try riding. It’s not safe or healthy for horse or rider. So yesterday, Cally got a nice bath.

And hopefully this week it will cool off a little and we can get in a lesson and be ready to go show. Due to budget and weather, we made the decision not to do HITS Culpeper next weekend, and just head up to Swan Lake, which is running two Bs over the weekend.  If we don’t get to do much this week, I’m just going to aim for a few jumper classes, because I feel a little out of shape in the saddle.  If we do get in some good work, I might aim for the Ariat medal, too.  I did do our entries for PVDA at Loch Moy the first weekend of September, so we’ll get our final scores for Year Ends there, and hopefully a few more nice recognized dressage scores aside.  And we’ve got one more sidesaddle show at Maryland Horse and Pony, where I’ll hopefully pick up a few jumper classes, too.  We’ll get ourselves back in gear, and a few days off while it’s hot is good for Cally, who doesn’t need pounded in this weather, because while we’ve got things to work on, she’s at the point where she knows her job.

So for now, I’m letting the horse stay cool, while I sit on my bed with a big mug of tea, watching the livestream of showjumping from Rio.  Stay cool everyone!