Monday, April 14, 2014

Who Is This Horse?

…and where is the pony I usually ride??

The Fancy Pony had a day off after her explosive performance over the grid and skinny barrel.  Since we were scheduled to school cross-country the following day, I figured I needed to jump one more time just to get a feel for what sort of horse I would be riding:
 - the amenable, but eager, pony that is ready for my instructions…
or
 - the fire-breathing dragon that is going to charge into and over the jumps regardless of anything I ask…

In her defense, she always gets us over them and never pulls the rails.  But who wants to be dragged over fences?

Coach mentioned about a month ago, “She needs a running martingale.”
Rebelliously, I thought to myself, “No, what she needs is more training.”
You may have picked up that I’m not a fan of additional aids…
During Thursday’s fiasco, she mentioned again (even more casually), “A running martingale would help when she decides to do that.”
“THAT” being ‘barge through my aids’.

So, I pulled out the breastcollar and attached the running martingale (adjusted to the longest setting, which puts the rings solidly in her throatlatch).  I acted like nothing had changed, took her out to the arena, and mounted up.  Away we went to warm up!
I had to reestablish the go button, but that didn’t take very long.  By the time we made our first canter transition, I knew this was not my normal pony.  She was powerful, but reserved.  She was eager to please, but she wasn’t abrupt.  We cantered down the long side in balance!  It felt like I was riding a rocking horse!  But, this wasn’t any rocking horse!  This rocking horse never took me to the front of the rock…  She rocked back, then swung up to center, then smoothly rocked back again…
Where did this collection come from?

After the hard work in our last ride, we had finished with this canter.  I never dreamed we would start exactly where we left!!

The grid was still set up, so we headed through it both directions.  I kept the entire grid at cross-rails to keep things feeling quiet and low-key.  I had determined that if we could do a quiet grid line, we would try the ‘skinny barrel’ again.  You may recall how we were set up for imminent success by flanking the barrel with standards and guide poles.  Having established at that time that going over it would not be a problem; I chose to drop the guide poles to the ground.  Baby steps to keeping the Honest Fancy Pony honest…

We hopped through the grid a couple more times, then I set myself up.  I rode the grid down the long side, relaxed around the short end of the arena, then took the short approach to our skinny.  She was quiet.  She was straight.  She was a little ball of power just waiting for permission to dole out as much or as little as I wanted…  she just waited for my request…  And she quietly jumped the skinny question as if it were part of a hunter course!
I know... I need more recent photos...

On that note, we left the arena for some perimeter time!  No more jumps for the day!  Could it have been any more perfect?  I don’t think so.
Despite the crazy winds, Pony and her buddy were well behaved on the ‘trails’.  There was a question about a gate in the pond, but some slow walking and snorting seemed to sort it out, and we carried on.  We decided to take two laps just to establish a quiet routine.  Eventually, we will be conditioning around this perimeter, and I don’t want her thinking, “GO-GO-GO!” as soon as we step onto that path!

I don’t know who this super new Fancy Pony is, or where exactly she came from, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE this new canter, this new responsiveness, this incredible cooperation!!
Fancy Pony, did we just take our relationship to the next level?

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