The first day of spring was absolutely gorgeous! (and followed up by a day of 40 and rain lol). But no worry, I made the most of it! I started with Ruby - we had a good dressage school and worked on our homework of cantering without power, and on the leg yields while making sure I was keeping my left side a wall, no collapsing. She was excellent! The weather is going to keep us from being as prepared for the show in a few weeks as I'd like to be, but it is what it is - this is spring in the Midwest lol.
"OMG WHAT'S THAT"
And then we had a fun surprise! A friend came over to visit. She brought her mini to drive in the arena and on the trails if it was dry enough, and it was!
And of course I couldn't let her go alone, what kind of host would I be! So I saddled up Emmy and accompanied her :)
Making sure she didn't find the mini as scary as Ruby did lol
We did a few laps in the arena to make sure Emmy didn't mind the noise of the cart, then set off!
Zomg the cuteness
We went on some new (to Emmy) trails :)
The neighbor's lake
We did about as many loops as possible without doing too much backtracking, and then meandered back to the arena and her trailer.
It was a super nice day to enjoy some beautiful weather, and nowwwww it's going to rain perpetually until my show. Sigh.
In between rain storms, I'm trying to squeeze in as many rides as I can on both Ruby and Emmy (what we've been calling her mom - she came to us with the barn name Essy but DH nicknames every single animal something weird and of course this is no exception).
I tried her in Cinna's dressage-legal Myler but (which has the same mouthpiece as the pelham she used to go in) and she seemed very comfortable, so that was encouraging!
At the end of our ride we went for a pasture wander ♥️
Ruby's dressage saddle is probably a smidge too narrow for her, but she's an odd fit. Very prominent withers, short back, not a lot of real estate. So finding her her own saddle will probably be challenging, but for now, Ruby's isn't atrocious.
I cannot say enough good things about what a kind soul this mare is - actually someone who knew her from her time in AZ sent me a nice message over the weekend and told me how sweet the mare was and that they hoped we had a lot of fun with her ♥️ I am DYING to take her out for a lesson/assessment with TrainerB, because she knows wayyyyyy more than me. She cheerfully offered up flying changes and some canter half pass Sunday night, even though I clearly had NO idea what I was doing. We didn't work long, because she's not super fit, but I'm hoping some long slow trail miles over the next few months will lead to a fitter horse I can take some lessons on!
Last weekend, of course my lesson was on the coldest day of the week 🥶🥶
Ruby: "this is bullshit" Also, she was DISGUSTING and I couldn't really clean her up 🥴 she had mud castanets in her tail.
I grumbled a lot, but man it ended up being a good lesson! We're showing in (less than) two weeks and everything is feeling so solid. I hadn't gotten to ride between lessons (weather + too many horses lol) but Ruby always just picks right back wherever we left off the last ride.
Being EXTRA AF in the leg yields lol
We are getting so much more solid in the cantering quietly without Ruby constantly being like ADD POWER WHEEEEEE. And after figuring out what the issue was with leg yielding off my right leg, now TrainerB likes those better than the other way (same with the canter when we first started lessoning haha).
Now I just... Need to learn my tests 🙈 and make sure all my show stuff fits!
Last week, the day after I hauled her to the indoor, we had some daylight and DH actually got home from work at a reasonable hour so I conned him into taking a quick trail ride with us!
Still experimenting to see what mouthpiece she likes best. Her former owner rode her in a pelham but I am looking for something dressage legal - I did happen to have this pelham laying around (bought it at Rolex for like $5 lol) so I didn't put a rein on the curb portion.
As his 26 year-old jigged through the entire ride, DH glared at me and told me he wanted to trade horses 🤣 yes yes, that was my master plan!
But seriously, she was fab. Was curious about all the new sights and sounds (our woods are vastly different than the deserts she grew up in!) but she didn't put a foot wrong the whole ride. Only annoyance was her trying to root the reins out of my hands occasionally, so we'll be working on that. Tragically, my endurance saddle isn't a good fit for her (it wasn't a good fit for Ruby either), so I'm going to try a few other ones on her. Looking forward to getting her out on some longer rides as her fitness improves!
I really wish I could do justice to this lesson, but man work has really been sapping alllllllll of my brainpower this week 😬 lesson last weekend was great though. After our grant week, basically all the pieces for first level (minus the canter loops in test three) is getting so, SO reliable!
Trot lengthenings don't just exist in theory, they're getting great!
Uh can we talk about this?!?!
The canter lengthenings are wheeeee 🤣
To make up for the fact that I'm not giving you actual thoughts about the lesson, please enjoy some video clips a friend was kind enough to film for me! I always love having friends come watch my lessons and get media for me! I've been using the Pivo regularly since I went out for my grant week, but predicably I am having issues with their apps and it actually zooming in and out so a friend videoing worked better. Hopefully they get the app working better soon 🥴 although I guess far away media is better than no media, when I don't have a live videographer lol.
The weather has continued to be a bit garbage (minus yesterday which was beautiful but I was stuck at work late), and you all know me, I am NOT a patient person. Besides wanting to take the new mare for a spin, I also need to keep Ruby legged up since I sent in entries for our first recognized show of the season the first weekend in April!
Dat ass 😍
The barn I used to board Ruby at a mile down the road has an indoor, but they also have a massive lesson program and are pretty constantly busy, so I always feel bad about trying to haul down there. Buuuut, desperate times and all that. I pinged my friend and found out the arena would be empty Monday evening after 6, so I decided to haul down there! Between my grant week, the saddle fitter, and my lesson Sunday (ope still gotta write about that!), Ruby has been out A LOT lately, so I figured it was as good a time as any to swing a leg over her mom!
Complete rock star. Can definitely see where Ruby gets her generally unflappable demeanor from!
I was prepared for just about anything - she was in regular training with a dressage rider last year, but she's had a few months of light riding/occasional trail riding. Last Wednesday and Thursday she spent the entire day on a trailer. Since arriving at my house Thursday night, she's had exclusively hand walking and a few limited hours of turnout each day due to the weather. We've turned her entire life and schedule completely upside down and I would not have been shocked at all if she had been UP or reactive. But she was amazing. Came off the trailer, calmly stood with DH to get tacked (didn't want to tie in a strange place until I tried at home first to make sure that's solid), and strutted into the indoor like she owned the place.
I did toss her on the lunge for a minute just to be safe - she doesn't completely respond to my usual lunge cues (whether that was excitement or that she generally just didn't know them, I'll find out at some point), a but aside from one pretty impressive slam on the brakes/spin to canter the other way, she was very well behaved. So I didn't feel bad about swinging a leg over!
I had very low expectations and just mostly wanted to give her a chance to stretch her legs, but I did also push some buttons to see how responsive she is - and the answer is VERY!
She definitely has the same hang up as Ruby in terms of preferring to go sideways or forward but absolutely not both 🤣
I ended on a good note and didn't ask her to canter - I'd rather end a ride wanting more rather than ask too much and regret it! Plus she's not the fittest right now, and the purpose of this trip was just leg stretching, so we headed home and she got stuffed full of cookies!
The saddle fitter was also slated to be in the area the week of my grant, but alas, it was after I headed back home. No matter. She hadn't seen my Fairfax since I bought it from overseas last spring, so I was eager to get her eyes on it. Ruby has been working fine in it, and Mary "virtually" inspected it up on arrival, but a lot can change in almost a year!
The saddle fitter has actually reduced her clientele and taken a full time job with Takt, but she still comes to my trainer's barn - lucky me!
I did still drool over some of the Takt saddles she showed up with though lol.
"Jesus weren't we JUST here??" - Ruby, I'm sure, lol
Ultimately the fit was still pretty good, but Ruby has put on some muscle since last year - she had been in the medium wide gullet (the Fairfax is adjustable using the K&M plates, bless), and it was starting to pinch her shoulders a smidge. The wide was maybe just a teeny bit TOO wide, but it gave her some room to keep growing that topline, so I'll keep using it with a half pad until the next time we see the fitter (or until Ruby expresses opinions about it haha.
Most of the barn rides in Customs and the fitter praised my Fairfax for being infinitely easier to adjust lol. Although a bit scary to watch her disassemble it!
We're friends on social media and she knows DH is fairly mechanically inclined, and she warned me to never let him screw in the plates and overtighten them - don't worry, I'm never letting him touch this saddle 🤣🤣
I didn't get a picture but I also had her cut off the middle billet - I use the front and back ones and I'm tired of the middle one just flapping around!
After she swapped out the gullet plates, it felt good, but not quite perfect. She watched me ride for a bit, then took it to her work station to add a little more flocking on the right. Voila! Riding on it after that felt AMAZING!
You'd think Penny was the one having a rough day lol.
I'm glad I was able to get up there and see her! DH grumbled a bit but the analogy the fitter used that I related back to him was it's like doing routine maintenance on a car - and we all know he won't let any of our vehicles miss an oil change, haha.
(Also secretly hoping now that it's wider I might be able to get away with using it on Ruby's momma too!)