Sunday, 19 July 2020

Plan S

A thing happened this weekend. I booked a clinic spot for Bridget and I months ago and have been really looking forward to it. With the lack of travel for work, also comes a lack of visits to EC’s barn, so my last lesson was in December, I think! I was pretty excited to get some professional instruction again.

Then, Bridget had heave-y symptoms. We fixed that, only for her to be a little off and on lame again the past couple of weeks. Ugh.

So, I totally adulted by just pretending it was all going to work out and didn’t cancel my spot in the clinic.

A few days ago, looking at Bridget’s now obscene lack of fitness, it was apparent my plan wasn’t going to work.
She’s round.

So, on to plan B  S!

Sophie?

Sceptical side eye.

Ha, yes, I totally took my neon green pony to a clinic this weekend.

Because I’m not totally stupid and do try to be fair to my ponies, I did take her down to the arena to see the sights the day before so she had a good chance to experience some of it without any timelines or pressure. With COVID concerns I wasn’t comfortable actually staying and stabling there so a visit the day before was the best I could offer her. Generally speaking, she was a pretty good girl for our test run, but there were some interesting moments and I was seriously doubting my decision. Taking her to a clinic at this point was a huge ask.

Not that you’d know our test run was a bit challenging, look at her happy little face.

I told myself we could always go do something else or opt out if and when it got to be too much. My worries were unfounded though, because in true Sophie fashion, on the day she exceeded all expectations :)

Where do I even start? The atmosphere was bigger than I expected, with tons of stuff going on. A pack of children running around pretending to be velociraptors? Check. Auditors with coolers, chairs, umbrellas and all the other things they bring? Check. Upset horses screaming away in the stabling? Yep. How bout we add in a bunch of people camping and a farmers market running next door? Sure, why not? It was almost getting comical by the time the guy in the loud diesel truck started doing donuts in the parking lot across the road.

The clinician set up a little course of poles and I was again like “why not?” While I’d never even walked her over poles she’s not the type to fuss too much over things like that. She’s pretty spatially aware, and to be honest I thought the little “course” might do us both good as far as giving us something to focus on that wasn’t the craziness going on outside the arena.

I TOTALLY failed at media, guys. I was nervous and didn’t think to ask anyone to take pictures or video. I know a couple of friends did anyway, and here’s the one picture I’ve got from my husband. I’ll share more in the future if anything usable comes my way.

As you might expect, our stop and go is still a little sketchy, and sticking to a pattern was HARD work for me as a rider. I forgot how much work it is keeping babies on track.

I’m beyond proud of Sophie, though. “Proper” ride 5 (or 6?) and we were out the doing the thing. What more can you ask? We trotted through the whole thing multiple times, even adding some extra extended trot flair through the trot poles. The steering was never totally out to lunch, and by the end when she sort of started to “get” it, she was turning and hunting down the poles herself - a pretty slick way to help her understand my turning aids, I’d say!

We ended with some practice giving and taking the rein on the circle, and leg yielding into trot and walk. That sounds rather more advanced than anything we really do, basically I was just starting to introduce the idea of giving to contact. My instructions for now are to focus on rhythm and relaxation and just keep my hands up and elbows steady. I found that hard on the corners where we wanted to drift but of course the clinician is right, I should only be babysitting with my big open rein the very minimum amount - the rest of the time just stay soft and steady and use my body correctly to turn - she’ll find her place between the aids given time and a consistent place to be.

To say I’m thrilled with the pony right now would be an understatement. She’s earned herself a few days off and lots of scratches.


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10 comments

  1. Awww, go Sophie! What a good girl!

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    1. So good. I couldn't believe how mature she was about it all - zero baby dramatics.

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  2. Replies
    1. Fingers crossed, my silly spooky baby pony looks like she has the potential to be good at adulting :D

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  3. yay SOPHIE! (oh and you too)!

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  4. What an excellent opportunity! So happy for you!

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  5. I love it when brave plans pay off with dividends. What a good girl you've got.

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  6. Woohoo!! Good baby pony and very brave rider. I wouldn't have been able to do it and I give you so much credit.

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  7. Super baby banana pony! You are far braver than I to take her to a clinic at this point in her training!

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