Eli has been excellent under saddle lately. Even if we don’t get too much more practice before the first show on our calendar the first weekend in March, I still feel pretty confident we can get around okay.
Late last week I did not have this confidence, but have since had it restored. Phew.
It starts with Thursday evening. I realized I should probably jump Eli just a little bit, super simple, before schooling with my trainer the following Monday (since we had not jumped for almost a month). So we trot a gate back and forth, no problem. Then we move on to trotting in and cantering out of a vertical-to-oxer line that I suspect was set at 71′-72′. The jumps were low. So, if trotting in, then 6 strides. The first time through Eli dragged his fronts across the back rail of the oxer. Perhaps the lighting confused his visual perception a bit, as it was night and we were under the lights. The second time through, we just didn’t quite get there and did 6.5 strides … third time, over-compensated, too much horse … fourth time, let’s tone it down and do 7. Okay, that worked. 7 again? Erm, too much horse again, not pretty. 7 again? Okay. Got that. Now can we go back to 6? Yes. But meh. Still, that was the best time to end.
So now I’m like, well, crap, I can’t ride. Eli is broken, which would be solely my fault.
Next time out at the barn is Saturday afternoon. I bumped my lesson to Monday because I was not sure when I’d get to the barn on Saturday. But I got there well after lunch and decided I should see whether or not Eli and I can function o/f.
And, we can. Oh, good.
I flatted him on Sunday and he felt great. I got to the barn on Monday, planning to school with my trainer, and it was so windy the fences were blowing over in the large arena. The fences in the small arena are basically just poles, so not enough surface area to catch wind and blow over. I admit, when walking up to the arenas, I actually dismounted and almost walked back in the barn because it felt like the winds were gusting to something like 40 mph. But then I thought, no, it is for sure going to rain all week, this is happening, we are going to jump.
I don’t have video, but even in the wind, Eli cantered around like some made children’s hunter. Wind? Not an issue. (But drizzle — forget it, he starts squealing.) We even got to some gappy distances where I did nothing and he jumped from there while I struggled to keep up, and he landed with no grudges about any of it. My trainer’s most frequent instruction was “WAIT” and I did (that was the part I could hear over the wind, anyway). It probably would have helped to have a light, supportive leg at the gappier distances, but the important part was I didn’t pick up the reins and I didn’t chuck my shoulder at him or lay on his neck. We have our tricky/angsty days but then we have a ride like this and I know I have the perfect horse for me. He really does take good care of me most of the time. If you think I gush too much about this horse, you’re right. And I ain’t gonna stop.
Some rain came through with continued rain chances until next week. Hit or miss as to when we can ride again but it’s nice to go into a break on a good note.