Monday, June 5, 2017

Lone Tree Farm Hunter Pace

We had a jump lesson on Friday in preparation for our weekend outing, and it was fantastic!  Cupid and I did an entire course of jumps, around 18" crossrails and verticals including a one stride combo.  We trotted in and cantered out.  I tried for one left-to ride lead change but didn't get it.  But more importantly I kept my composure several times through the course, and Cupid was very responsive throughout!

Saturday I just did an easy ride, warming up outside the ring, then doing a few circles, serpentines, leg yields, and walk-trot transitions.  Then we walked a loop around the property.  He worked hard all week, but I didn't want him too fresh for Sunday!  I didn't give him a full bath but did rinse him off.  He doesn't love baths but is good about standing, and doesn't whinny anymore like he used to in the wash rack.

On Sunday I woke up at 5am and drove to the barn as the sun was coming up.  I gave Cupid a quick grooming, and wrapped his legs.  We loaded all our gear the day before, so we just had to load the horses and away we were!  Cupid loaded perfectly, the last horse in my trainer's 3 horse slant load.

It was about a 2 hour drive.  Unloading from the 3rd spot is a little awkward, but I can mostly get Cupid turned around to unload head first.  I walked him a few minutes so he can stretch his legs, and he was very good, probably the best he's been first arriving at a new location.  He stood tied to the trailer while I tacked him up and put on his closed front boots.

Once I got on Cupid he got a little antsy.  We walked circles and figure-8s a few minutes while I waited for my barn mates to finish tacking and mounting.  The ground was full of rocks, it looked like we were in an old river bed so I was a little worried Cupid would bruise his feet or trip!  We walked over to a little "warm up" area, which was a long narrow enclosed area with grass footing.  Cupid spooked a little, I think from the flag course markers whipping in the wind but I'm not sure.  We walked for a few minutes, then started trotting some circles.  Cupid was anxious, but being good.  The warm up got very crowded, so it was a little hard finding space.  Before too long it was our turn to go, and I went in a pair with my trainer.

The first course was just to trot around the field inside the jumps.  When Cupid started getting too quick we would transition back to a walk for a few steps.  This was the first time I've ridden him on grass, but he seemed comfortable going on it and didn't try to stop and eat.  We did it in pairs with my trainer on her horse, and Cupid didn't like getting passed!  He seemed happier being in front, so we stayed ahead of the other horse.  Cupid was a little unsure about walking by a giant downed palm tree, but we passed it with only a little side eye.  Before we knew it we made it all the way around.

We went back into the warm up ring, and jumped the practice log a few times.  I trotted in, and made Cupid halt after.  It took a few extra strides to pull him up, but not too bad.  Then my trainer got on Cupid and took him around in pair with her other student for the elementary jumping round.  She said he was good, except stopped to look at the final coop.  Then it was my turn, and my trainer came with me on her horse.  In the pairs class at least one person has to go over each obstacle.  So my trainer said no pressure, do as much as I am comfortable with and she will do the others.  We ended up jumping each jump, mostly logs and one ditch, except the last coop.  At first I said I was not going to jump it.  Then when I saw it ahead I said you know what let's go for it!  But then Cupid started getting a little squirelly so I kind of bowed out.  Even when we passed it Cupid was tense, so I don't think it was the jump it was just kind of a spooky corner in front of the warm up. 

Overall I was very happy with both of us!  My goal for this event was to sit up straighter, and my trainer said I did much better than last time we went out.  And Cupid, even though he got a little quicker than I'd like sometimes he did come back down when I asked.  So overall it was a very positive experience and confidence builder for me!

Cupid got Monday off, but in the morning for some reason he really wanted to come out of his stall.  Usually he just wants to eat his breakfast hay, but today he was pacing around and kept standing at the door.  So I put his halter on and let him amble around the property a little, eating grass and smelling things.  I checked his temperature to make sure he was any worst the wear after our adventure.  I also put a little magic cushion in his feet Sunday night, just in case.  Even though we mostly were on grass, he did have to walk across the rocks to get there.

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