Tuesday 22 June 2021

A Normal Weekend (At Last!)

 After so many months of Covid restrictions, working far too many hours, and generally living far away from any equestrian events or training, I'm not sure I have words to describe how nice it was to spend a weekend doing normal horse things. We went to a clinic, I got Sophie's saddle checked, and I hung out with horsey friends in the sunshine. Simple things that have been so, so missed.

I did not take photos on the day, because I honestly just was in the moment and didn't think to until later. So you get pictures from when I turned them out Sunday afternoon :)

I rode Sophie on Thursday night and she was quite fussy and grumpy, still pretty outraged that anyone dare put a saddle on her (despite me running my hands over every inch of her back and not finding anything worrying).  I gave her the benefit of the doubt due to her being a little bit sore the week before from our previous saddle. I decided not to ride her in the clinic and was feeling pretty disappointed.

Friday afternoon, I left work early (yay for prioritizing well!) to watch the first riders in the clinic and really enjoyed it - there are a couple of talented ladies with lovely young horses and it was pretty inspiring to watch them work through some green horse challenges, particularly as I happen to be the owner of a young sassy mare ;)

Also, an older sassy mare.

Saturday morning, my wonderful husband tagged along and we trailered both horses down to the clinic. Despite it being a 15 min walk from the barn, I used the trailer because it's just so convenient for all the tack and supplies I can bring. My ride time was first in the morning and it was nice to just drive up there, pop them in the trailer, and go. Plus, it's excellent practice for Ms Sophie.

There was a bit of a show vibe and both horses noticed. There were a few people camping, and lots of trucks and trailers in the parking. Plus, new horses in the (normally empty) temporary stabling to chat with. It's been over a year since most of us have had a real get together or event, so even the normally steady horses were taking notice of the different atmosphere.

I rode Bridget and I'm SO glad I did! I definitely good some good input and B really showed up and tried her little heart out, reminding me a lot of why I used to have so much fun with her and kept on pushing for the next big milestone. She's rusty and out of practice, as am I, but it was fun to focus on Bridget again. 

The lesson consisted of a pattern exercise with lots of poles, and it was as complicated as you made it. We focused on extending and bringing back strides more crisply, having a more solid outside rein contact going to the right, and having me look up and around to the next set of poles or marker. 

Been a while since we had a Paint diagram here. As you can see, it works either direction, crossing the middle in a figure eight pattern, alternating the extended and collected poles. The pattern definitely helps make it all happen and kept me on track.

B was an absolute star for all the up/down transitions, lateral work, and for being honest about keeping on the path I put her on. I don't feel she's really 'dressage' fit (I'm not either, let's be real) so I rode on a longer, more hunter style rein much of the time and let her find a happy place. There were times where the exercises did the work for her and she offered to sit and carry herself for some fancy dressage pony moves and I happily accepted. It felt SO nice to be back in the zone :) Happily, she had zero issues trotting and cantering for an hour, and was only minimally sweaty...looks like I've been making progress getting the pony fit again! I was dying, though. Since B has been a bit rogue this spring, I've been wearing my xc vest. Would not recommend for a 1.5 hour flat lesson in hot weather.

Sophie managed to hang out quietly for about 45 minutes, then time was up and she was whinnying and pacing a little. Some other horses were calling and putting on a bit of a show and she's never one to miss out on some drama. I'm pretty happy with her, though - it was a lot bigger atmosphere than she's used to, and sometimes I feel like it's harder for them to go to a familiar place where things are different on the day, than just a new place altogether. Her calling and pacing was totally at an acceptable level...she has a strong pony side and eating from her hay bag was honestly her main priority :)

The hair continues to impress

As an added bonus, I pulled her out and had the clinician look at her new saddle. It got two thumbs up, so at least I know I'm not crazy in thinking the basic fit is really good. Fingers crossed I just hit a grumpy mare day/week and we can move forward happily in the new one. I will obviously still get it checked by a proper fitter as soon as I can, but I'm a bit more confident in pushing through any residual drama and getting to work, knowing there's nothing obviously wrong with the fit and I haven't missed anything.



  1. Beautiful pictures of the ponies. I love the one with Sophie with her dapples and then sunlight dappling through the tree as well. Glad it was a productive clinic with B, and fingers crossed the saddle works out for Ms. Sophie.

    1. Thank you! I'm crossing fingers hard!

  2. Ah, the slow return to blissful normalcy! We are almost there!

  3. What a great pony-centric weekend! 😁

  4. It felt almost like a little vacation.