First, we were at the barn by six thirty. Ashke walked right on the trailer after the slightest hesitation and then whinnied his head off when he realized that Cali was not coming. We got to Plane View Farm in Eire by 7:45 (great and safe driving by J) and after a bit of confusion, we got Ashke settled in a shed with a run. This was all firsts for us. Ashke was a bit stressed and I could hear him whinnying from inside the indoor arena I would get up and go to comfort him.
Second, this was my first clinic. I was stressed. I wanted to make a good impression. I knew no one. J left after we got settled and didn't come back until it was time to saddle him up for my ride. (The people were all very nice and I expect to stay in touch with the organizers, plus also the people from Fort Collins who are organizing some of the events). I was nervous and stressed about the newest of the situation. Although I want to be there and participate, I still have to deal with the stress of a new situation. the stress of the unknown, having strangers judge me.
Third, I had to ride Ashke to another barn after my lesson. I think we were both completely fried by the lesson we had done and to ride another mile and a half to put him in a box stall in a brand new barn and then leave him there was the last straw. I worried he wouldn't be there in the morning. I worried he would cast himself in his stall and no one would notice. I worried. A lot. He seemed to be a bit stressed when we left (although we had ridden over with another horse and they were stalled next to each other, so he wasn't completely alone).
Fourth, we went to dinner with Nuno and some of the other attendees. Then we had to run to Murdocks for fly spray. Then we finally came home and by that time it was after nine and we had to get up and go again today.
That's why my post yesterday was a bit thin in the words department. I was brain dead by that time.
Today was a bit better. We slept until the dogs woke us up. I was not as determined to be there by the time the clinic started but even so, we managed to make it to the overnight barn by 7:45 or so. Ashke was ambivalent to see me, in part I think, because he was sore and still tired. I'm not sure he slept last night. Under saddle he was snorty and spooky. I rode back to the first barn promising myself that in the future I would always pack my Easyboot gloves in the trailer, whether I needed them or not. We walked the mile and a half to the other barn, with a couple of easy trots through short, cut grass. We had one really good spook when a guy got out of his car just as we were going past. The first time Ashke has really spooked and tried to bolt. The man apologized and asked if we were okay. Once Ashke knew what it was he was fine.
Today, he settled into his run and ate his hay. Rolled in the mud. Didn't whinny for me at all. Seemed to think he understood what we were going to be doing. When I pulled him out to saddle and warm up, he was up but not spooky like yesterday. I was much calmer. We went to the round pen and started our warm up. When I asked him to canter it was obvious that something was NQR. He was really struggling to maintain a canter to the left. On the curve he has to really use his haunches and I think we overworked him yesterday. He really protested, to the point where he almost reared. I thought I needed to push him past it and tried, but even after getting two solid left lead 20m circles, it was obvious that he was not going to be doing any flying lead changes today. I figured we could work on other stuff and Ashke and I could work on the canter on our own.
Here are some videos from today:
Cantering to the right.
One of the things I learned today is that one always enters the obstacle and turns to the right. This makes sense when you consider all of the obstacles are ridden with the left hand so the right one is free to manage the obstacle. Today, I rode with both hands on the reins and that seemed to help Ashke be calmer.
At the first part of this video, Nuno and Jennifer were explaining how I need to swing my outside leg back and just curl it around his barrel, holding but not bumping. I was bumping which was making Ashke jump. One of the things that concerns me is how he is resting his left hind leg. I'm thinking that learning to use himself properly has caused some weakness or discomfort, which we will need to address.
Cantering in the other direction.
We struggled to do the gate. Although, we did manage a decent gate handling experience before the end of the day. Ashke is completely freaked out by the rope. It took a bit to get him to understand what I wanted him to do.
He rocked the sidepass.
Which, funnily, is not an actual sidepass. It's more of a shoulder-in, where you pass over the pole at an angle. That's why they can do it so fast in the speed round. I was watching today and ended up going out to ask him, along with a group of others who had the same type of questions. We did a straight pole and a set of poles set in an L shape. He did that without any hesitation.
Off-set poles. You can see the diagram in my notes from yesterday.
Ashke did the poles pretty good today. Although, the side door on the arena was about half way up and every time we came around that pole and Ashke saw the horse legs without the horse, he stopped. Overall, though, I was happy with his bend and how he switched directions. One of the things we can work on is 10m trotting circles and 20m cantering circles. He was a lot less protesting of the contact with this bit today and I need to continue to work on his collected trot.
One of the things Nuno said yesterday is that I need to continually play with the bit with my fingers. He wanted me to see if I could feel his tongue through the bit and carry on a conversation with his tongue. It will take a lot of work on my part to continue that communication while still doing other stuff, like cantering.
Three barrel obstacle
The three barrels are not a cloverleaf, like barrel racing. You enter between the two front barrels and immediately turn to the right. You circle the right barrel then switch directions and circle the top barrel, but only about 3/4 of a circle. As you come back to center, you switch directions again and circle the third barrel moving clockwise in the circle. You finish by completely circling that barrel and exiting the triangle at the point at which you entered. The barrels are fairly tight, mandating a tight 10m circle around each one.
I totally did not expect the pole to fall over when I aimed the end of the garouche pole at it.
I love the garouche pole so much. It's incredibly fun and Ashke didn't blink an eye when I picked it up.
Take aways from the weekend:
- I can't tell you how proud I am of my horse. He walked on the trailer without hesitation in both directions. He managed to spend the night at another barn without losing his shit. He was focused and attentive both days, although he was much more relaxed the second day.
- We survived our first clinic. It was emotionally stressful. It was physically demanding. I do not think I have ever been as tired as I was last night when we finally made it home.
- We need to continue to work on our dressage. Ashke and I need to get to the point where we can do a Level 1 test for the rated show in September. I have every hope that we will be able to show and be competitive, even if we don't win.
- I found a network of people who are working diligently to put together events, schooling shows and rated shows for this wonderful sport. I found a network of other women riders (and one man) who are active participants in WE.
- Canter. Canter. Canter. Canter. I can work on the outside leg back, inside leg at the girth thingy too. And trot-canter transitions. And some walk-canter transitions too.