Saturday we are supposed to have a one day show, so I did my best to get some prep in this weekend. Saturday, I set up a couple of simple pole exercises to work on some of the basics without the pressure of real jumps, and Sunday we lessoned and did some short courses.
Saturday and Sunday both went great. My two exercises were six trot poles at one end of the arena to get Val stretching along his topline and pushing from behind, and at the other end of the arena I put three canter poles in a fan, much like we did at our clinic in May. These were quite as steep though, since it was the first time I’d set it for myself and I wanted to leave some margin for error. If you’re curious, they walked as 21 feet from center to center on a curve.
The trot poles went well, and even though there were a lot of poles to navigate, Val went through no problem every time, reaching for the contact rather than inverting away from it or trotting through like a sewing machine.
The canter poles he did really well to the right, letting me place him and really ride a true bend from the center of each pole to the next, and as a result they worked out pretty perfectly every time. To the left, which is our weaker lead any way, things were a little harrier. Val really wanted to move past the distance to the first pole, and ride straight through the poles to give himself more room rather than compacting and bending all the way through. We had a couple of ugly rides through them, then I halted and asked him to stop pulling through my hand. A little insistence with my inside leg to help create more bend, and they worked out pretty well from there.
Here and there I even asked him to come back down to the trot and go through the trot poles, which he did very nicely despite not usually being able to keep the hamsters on their wheels enough for trot poles in the middle of our canter work. Once we had mastered those, we were only about 30 minutes into our ride, so I threw in some counter canter work each direction.
The to the left we picked up the right lead quickly and with minimal fuss, and went all the way around the arena without breaking or swapping, which is really hard for Mr. Val. To the right, he was definitely anticipating the counter canter, but still eventually picked up the left lead and did a whole lap around the arena again. From there we did some stretchy trot, went through the poles a few more times, and then went for a walk.
I’m so impressed with how much he’s improving that counter canter. He’s getting better and better at picking it up on the first try, and much stronger so that he can hold it for a lot longer. I’m feeling more and more confident in the idea of doing an adult medal in the nearish future!
Sunday I was up at 6:30 to be warmed up for an 8:30 lesson, but fortunately the day was pretty easy. J’s parents were in town so he was entertaining them, so I apologize for the limited media.
We had a few things set in preparation for the upcoming shows, such as a line that bent to a fence directly on the rail by the gate, and both a triple and double set on course. val went through no problem all day, and really showed how much our homework has been paying off. Most of our course work was at about 3′, but trainer bumped everything up to 3’3-3’6 for our last course, which is the only one I remembered to ask someone to video. Oops.
I was pretty darn happy with that course, considering we haven’t practiced any turns or slices like that in quite a while. Between the 3rd jump and the triple, I got off of Val’s back a little and let him move out to cover ground, and I was really please with how well he then came back to me and balanced up for the triple. Even though it was riding tight, we never had one of the verticals down either direction through all day. Good pony.
After the lesson, I did my best to wipe myself down (Despite riding at 8:30, I was drenched thanks to the 96% humidity. Gross.) and changed then jetted out for brunch with J and his family. A nap and a fantastic tailgate and win over Notre Dame rounded out the official weekend wonderfully.
Monday was a whole different mess despite our great weekend, and the terrible media deserves a post of its own. I was feeling pretty good about our show despite Monday, but my plan to do one last jump school over some height this morning was foiled by buckets of rain last night, so here’s to hoping I can get something done this evening, but it’s not looking promising.