Friday proved to be difficult, as it was my first ride since returning from London. Huxley, a cute bay Thoroughbred, was a doll, and was very tolerant of my lack of fitness and inability to see a distance. In order to prep for our show the following day, Shelby and I switched horses and jumped the other's horse around a few courses. JC was less tolerant of the fatigue in my poor legs, and refused to back off my left leg as we rounded the turns. After a much needed yet excruciating hour and a half, we called it quits, and Anne deemed me ready (as ready as I could have been) for the St. Andrews Show.
St. Andrews has only a covered arena for us to show in, and that means the whole show was spent outside in the blistering cold. The first draw was Spike, a small chestnut gelding whose description told me he always adds. Little did I know that the sheet really meant he adds on the pony stride! After entering the arena at the trot, in the corner I picked up my canter. I began to establish some pace, but once he saw the fence he began to back off the pace and ignore my leg. We ended up jumping the first fence at a pace slower than backwards. After that fence though I clucked loudly and cow kicked then continued on to the outside line. Eight strides. I continued around to the bending line, ten strides. In each line I added two. Props for consistency I suppose. As I rounded the final turn, I really asked him to move up, though he is definitely a horse that requires his rider to wait. We ended up with a third. Anne said that although our first fence was disastrous, we at least looked good while doing it.
Sunday was my first ride on this project that Anne has set aside for me. We rode outside to avoid the ice sheets falling off the roof of the indoor (read: scared ponies), and it was the horses first times being ridden outside in weeks. Brownie is a quirky fellow, a 15 something hand plain bay gelding that has had a somewhat rough past. When I got on, Anne told me she was going to just let me be so that I could get to know him. As a rider she wants me to develop a series of exercises to do with each horse in order to get to know them. I know I have goals and plans with the ones I ride consistently, but not a specific game plan for a "get to know you session".
That being said at the walk I began to ask him questions hoping to get a feel for how responsive he is to the leg, hands and seat, and when I felt like I had a good idea, I asked for a trot. We worked on circles, and I worked on my own position to account for a slow deliberate post to create a relaxed and round trot. At several points he stressed himself out, and hollowed his back throwing his head in the air, but I generally got a good feel for the horse, and him for me. Its clear that he has a lot of personality, and that he tries very hard to please. I think we are going to have a lot of fun this spring!
This week I have been thinking a lot about my photography as well, and finally stepped it up and made the change of both my payment system and of my website. Hopefully the changes will be a positive catalyst for future business. I have a few irons in the pot so to speak and hopefully all will materialize. Stay tuned for more on that!