This last weekend has been very very busy, but also loads of fun. I had a 5 day weekend, and being back at work was actually a relief because I was quite pleased to sit down.
Friday was my usual day off, so both horses got a ride o the arena focussing on pole work. Coolie hasn't been ridden properly for ages and he was up first. He always feels so good for not doing a lot, though he is weaker and stiffer than if he was being asked to do that work every week. All the buttons are there though and they are fun to play with occasionally to change things up and to keep us both interested.
When I rode Henry after the difference was really amazing. Henry felt so much stronger, fitter and straighter. I haven't noticed that before and it really reflects how much Henry has improved recently. Henry was super peppy and happy to be having a play over some poles, we had a really fun ride!
Saturday we were demo riders for a coach doing their assessment to get qualified. Basically I got a free lesson and paid to ride my horse, it really couldn't be better. It was interesting to watch the assessment taking place (especially as I want to get qualified eventually), everything had to be done by the book.
We were jumping and we started off doing a pole work exercise. Henry was pinging, feeling very fresh but he is a good boy and was very rideable. He trotted and cantered through the exercise pretty easliy, with me just having to work at placing him in the canter off the right rein a bit more, but his self carriage was awesome throughout.
We spent lots of time in 2 point and I really needed to work at relaxing through my body and absorbing the movement better. It was pretty tough, I try and practice 2 point all the time but clearly not enough, I had to work really hard to maintain it.
For the jumping potion there were 2 related lines set up, one 3 stride and a 4 stride. Henry cruised down both really well, he was the best to do it in the group, though I needed to keep the canter through the turn on the 4 stride. I added leg in the line and he jumped out easy though so we are getting better at making decisions!
I was really pleased with Henry, while we didn't do anything hard or jump anything huge, he was a spark plug but still travelled in self carriage and listened to me. It was probably the best he's gone for ages and it was a great feeling.
Sunday we headed off to a dressage competition where I had entered the 1B and 2B. My aim was to not get tense right before we went in and to then hopefully have a less tense Henry.
We got there with plenty of time, but they were running slightly early and I underestimated how much time I needed to warm up so we weren't quite ready to go for our first test when we did. As a result my brain wasn't quite there but Hen stayed relaxed, I stayed relaxed and we did a reasonable test. It felt better than the test we did a few weeks ago at dressage club, though I just beed to work on keeping Hens neck a bit longer.
We didn't have long between tests so I got off and we both had a drink before I drilled down on our transitions, lengthenings and leg yields for our novice test.
Our novice test was brilliant, again we just have to get Henry more consistent int he contact and a little longer in the neck, but we both stayed relaxed and Henry was very willing. He ran out of steam about half was though the test, but the lengthening and leg yields all felt more stablished than a few weeks ago. I need to work on my accuracy a bit more still, but overall it was a good, fun day out and it was nice to come out of the arena smiling. Both tests scored 61% from different judges, which is about what I put them at too. Not brilliant but not terrible, especially as I know what needs work.
Monday I hacked both horses and they were very jolly, we just had some fun together and the sun even came out!
Tuesday I had a clinic, and Henry was brilliant. We worked on corners in the flatwork lesson, something I tend to neglect a lot. Henry slacked off a lot in the turn, stalling on the second stride and not staying straight. I really needed to get him off my leg, and keep my leg on through the turn, then think a step of leg yield before the turn.
We added a couple of strides of leg yield into the centre of the arena after the corner and then back to the longside to help get the horses manoeuvrable.
We took the same exercise into canter and the connect I had with Henry was amazing. I felt so plugged in, and Henry was right there powering from his hind legs. It was an amazing feeling!
We also worked on turns in jumping, but Henry and I were both pretty tired so it wasn't our best lesson ever. I did get a better feel for using my thigh to turn though. He was a bit behind my leg and I was firing my body at jumps, but we finished with a good course. Plenty to work on as always!