After the show on Sunday, this week has been pretty laid back. I took Monday off to recuperate, and then my lessons got pushed up to Tuesday/Wednesday instead of Wednesday/Thursday because The Pony was shipped off to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon to compete with her 4-H rider.
Tuesday was our flat lesson. When The Trainer went with me to try out my last potential purpose, she also had the chance to sit in my cheap Wintec AP500 saddle and lament how slippery it was, so she had me tack The Pony in her saddle, a fourteen year old Crosby XL M. I’ve always had an inkling that my saddle hasn’t necessarily been making my job any easier, but the moment I settled into the canter in the Crosby there was a night and day difference in how stable I felt. The trouble I’ve been having sitting the canter evaporated and I felt less strain on my thighs and hips in general. We spent most of the lesson practicing things we’ve done in the past (two point, posting two point, turns on the haunch/shoulder in motion, half seat, etc.) as a way of test riding the fit of the saddle. My leg tends to drift a little forward in the Crosby (hello, chair seat), but I was still 100% convinced that my current saddle isn’t doing me any favors.
(Unfortunately, we also talked about how much her saddle originally cost her… let’s just say that I better start a second savings fund right next to my Buy-a-Horse account.)
Wednesday was jump day this week, and The Show Buddy was practicing her performance riding, so it was just me and The Trainer (plus the Crosby again, since she wanted me to experience jumping in it). She set up an exercise that we’d practiced once before back in April (right after I started jumping)—a large figure 8 with a jump in the middle that forced me to work on a diagonal approach to the jump with an emphasis on picking up the correct lead over the fence (or performing a simple lead change right after landing). We did the exercise over two ground rails, then over a cross rail, and then over 2’0″ (a real 2’0″, not the height The Trainer calls 2’0″ when it’s actually more like 2’3″ at the top of the rail 😛 ). I put a lot of focus on shifting my weight to the outside over the fence and I could really feel her reaching for her leads. Our simple lead changes were improved, too, and we had a lot of really cute jumps together!
Since The Pony was gone on Thursday, The Trainer said I could have my pick of the stable and encouraged me to try out Toby, the lesson horse they purchased at the end of July. Toby’s very laid back and friendly, but also rather large (a skinny 16hh, or so). I felt a little nervous when I first got on him, but with the Crosby underneath me I quickly had him down in the bridle and cruising around the arena at a steady working trot. We did some seated trot and some extended trot, along with a lot of circles and serpentines, and then I bit the bullet and tested out his canter on a loose rein. It was very smooth (I don’t think I moved an inch), but when I tried to pick up contact on the reins he nearly pulled me right out of the saddle. We did a lot more work at the trot and cantered a few more times, but I’ve requested to use Toby for my flat lesson next week so that I can save the battle over contact (and all the questions that comes with it) for a time when I have The Trainer’s supervision. Despite my initial unease, Toby was fantastic and I liked how he was both forgiving and sensitive to my aids—definitely something I want in a horse of my own!
I also made more than one trip out to the Bony Pony this week. I got a cute pink and purple tack box off of Amazon last Friday, so on Sunday I went up to Mount Vernon and got myself some hairnets for the show, a small set of brushes (hoof pick, curry comb, mane and tail brush, hard brush), and a hay bag (that I ended up returning because it was a little too slow-feed). Then I went again on Thursday and picked up a new helmet (in the most obnoxious color I could find) since I broke the dial fit system in mine. More about that in a future post, but for now here’s a really sad picture of The Pony’s empty stall: