My friend Kate, rider of TinyPony, JoePony, HunnyPony and several other ponies was in town this weekend.
Kate riding HerTinyPony at River Glen
In addition to riding ponies, Kate is becoming certified to do saddle fitting and gave several of us good advice on how to make our saddles fit better this weekend, including the very exciting news that my jump saddle is extra-super-duper wide and it, in fact, was NOT too narrow for Brandy, it was too wide and needed some extra padding to make it fit her better.
Kate looking teeny next to Brandy, who is not as big as this picture makes her look!
The addition of a fleece pad and some shims in the front made it much more balanced. *phew* In the words of Kate "You wouldn't have been able to find it if you'd been looking for it, but you weren't and you did!" So, now we're just on the lookout for a super-wide dressage saddle, as well.
So, Kate came in town to have a lesson with Amy and school cross country on Saturday. Of course, it rained all day on Thursday so we had to do some scrambling to try to find a place to have our lesson on Friday. We ended up canceling just because it wouldn't come together quite right and hauled over to Hunter's Court to school. They were having their show on Saturday and open the barn for schooling on Friday for the public. So, for $20, Kate and I were able to get a good school in and play hunters for the evening.We pulled up with our horses in Kate's little stock trailer- Joe facing backwards, Ari facing forwards. I wish I'd gotten pictures. They ride so well together and I know they don't mind it because they both load like pros every. single. time.
Off the trailer came the little arab pony and the one eyed thoroughbred gelding. We got tacked up and I would say I was sticking out about as much as was humanly possible. Between my pink-bling-browband, my figure 8 noseband, colored square pad, mismatched bell boots (one white, one pink), my breastplate and tipperary helmet... I don't think I could have screamed eventer any more had I tried. But that doesn't matter, because it was open schooling, right?! Right.
So, we made it into the arena and walked around for awhile. I saw several people I knew from "Project: Hunter" when I found (the other)Kate her new (not-so-little)pony, so I stopped to say hi to them. Ari got lots of attention for not having an eye! That was fun. :) We warmed up a bit in the non-jumping half of the arena and then moved in to dodge hunters to play over the jumps. At some point, Ari was passed on his blind side. Innocently, nothing traumatic, but he took it as a personal insult to the very fiber of his being and proceeded to buck, twist, fart and spin the whole rest of the school, every time we passed anything on the left. Yes, anything. You know, another horse, the fence, a jump, air... he bucked, farted and twisted like a moron.
However, the JUMPING was great. He had one stupid stop the very first jump I pointed him at. Haybales, of course, which is why I chose to jump those first. THEY'RE EFFING HAYBALES. WE JUMP THEM ALL THE TIME AT HOME. I was just trotting up to them and didn't very well ride him at all, so I guess I deserved it. The rest was awesome, though. He didn't peek at any of the walls, flowers, fillers- nothing. The last thing Kate and I did was a course and he rocked it. I let him go forward a little more and supported with my leg- concentrated on not jumping ahead and succeeded quite well, I think!
The most amusing part of that whole adventure was as I was cantering across the diagonal of the arena. I was going to get to the other side and ask for a simple change as Ari does not, will not, may never ever ever have flying changes. As I passed between two of the hunter coaches who were teaching students, one of them yelled "Change now!" to his student on the other side of the arena and Ari performed a perfect flying change with no prompting from me. I was laughing so hard I had to stop. If only I knew it would be that easy to teach him changes!
Saturday rolled around and I managed to forget my cell phone at home. Yes. I forgot my cell phone. At home. Me. It was horrible, but I survived the WHOLE day without much issue. Julie picked Brandy and I up early, Brandy was less a shoe, but I brought her anyway. Kate loaded Ari up with Joe awhile later and he actually stood tied to the trailer the whole day- amazing. Shasta came after that with Moose, Boston, Gracie, Storm and Audrey.
Brandy had an awesome school. I jumped several things I'd never jumped before and a ton of bigger fences. She didn't bat an eye at anything I pointed her at. Obviously the winter off didn't effect her at all! I hate to let her go, but I hope she finds her perfect person. I also jumped the stone wall for the first time since 2006!
Ari's school was also amazing. I was worried going in after his antics from the day before, but he didn't exhibit any signs of wanting to do that at PWP. Maybe hes a little claustrophobic in an arena? He did have two stops, but both were my fault. The best part about the stops is that I FELT them coming three strides out. He now goes forward with such power that if he is considering stopping its easy to feel- which means I ought to be able to prevent them by riding harder. The downside to that is that I have to ride him to every fence as though he may decide to stop three strides out. His two stops were both easy fences, so it has nothing to do with the "scary factor" just him taking advantage of me not being LOCKED IN and kicking. I had a couple fences that I nailed it on- the second time we went over the lobster trap I managed to hook a spur in his girth I was riding so hard!
So, the points I took away from that lesson are:
- Don't ride as though he's just going to "float over" any jump. Ever. Ride as though he will stop every time and he won't have the chance.
- DIG IN. KICK ON. Pick a point on the other side of the fence and just keep kicking until you LAND.
- Ride hard, but don't let him "squirt out the front." The power has to be capped to work effectively.
Proof. He can jump into water. Ass.
And step into water, too.
My students all had an awesome school as well. Moose had NO refusals, which is a total 180 from her typical "stop at everything and then jump it the second time." Everyone else did great, but I was most impressed with Moose and Robin's progress! She did several BN fences without so much as a peek.
Carissa and Jess both had excellent rides and showed lots of improvement from last year! All three made it over the ditch, which is always fun!
Tori had her first XC schooling and showed great form and was very game! I only wish Audrey had been a bit more cooperative, but she was a little overwhelmed. I kept her on the longe line the whole time and it worked out well!
Bobby did great with Storm and Storm had fun and left with a lot more confidence than he came with!
Taryn borrowed a fabulous little morgan named Avalon from a student of Julie's and had a great school too, on a horse she'd never even seen before, doing something she'd never experienced before.
And of course, Kate rode Shasta, who was fabulous. It took some settling in, but she ended up being an angel and having a great time in the water, stepping up and down the bank, jumping all the baby jumps and the baby ditch. I also love that PWP is becoming more "baby friendly" as things go on!