Friday, April 2, 2010

Pandora Update

Well, on Wednesday I had basically the best dressage ride I have ever had on Pandora - you would already know this if you follow me on Twitter (also see the nifty little sidebar on the right!).

I could tell pretty much from the moment we loaded her on the trailer. She was calm, laid back, but ready to go. I think she has been wanting more consistent work. If she gets more than a day or two off, she seems to be begging to come out and get exercised. She got longed on Tuesday and seemed to really relish the work. I didn't let her just plunk around, either: she really had to step under herself and get good gaits going.

So I was warming her up in Leslie's big, NICE arena before my lesson. Pandora was forward, relaxed, and actually quite supple. My riding is getting better and her gaits are getting better, which is a wonderful combination! Actually, I have learned something about sitting up from schooling my barn owner's daughter's western pleasure horse while they were gone on vacation. She goes best, and roundest, when you really just sit up straight and tall and still. I applied this to Pandora, and it really helps at the canter. I am in a much better position to keep pushing those hind legs further under her, asking her to lift her back.

When Leslie arrived for the lesson, I told her how great Pandora was tonight. Then we spent the first 10 minutes of the lesson not so spectacularly, of course! I think it is to be expected, though. Leslie pushes me and Pandora a lot harder than I push on my own in warm up. She immediately asks me to do more suppling, a slightly firmer contact, and more forward to get Pandora to step under herself even more. So of course we have a bit of resistance at first, especially laterally because that is hard for Pandora.


Then, we broke through all that resistance. Her trot was the best it's ever been. Her canter was the best it's ever been. Her walk has always been pretty good, but it was very nice too. She was light and steady in the contact and even between both reins. She was pushing from behind and bending her body on the arc of the circle. She lifted the base of her neck and her back. Her canter was rolling forward but controlled and not heavy in my hands. We still had to work a lot (especially to the right) on a bit of straightness and not leaning on my inside leg, but man.

It was cool. I actually have, on video, Leslie telling me that if she were judging me in a dressage test, this would be a very correct trot, moving properly and evenly from the hind end. Woohoo!

We did some leg yields at the trot and canter. I thought the canter leg yields were quite fun. So did Pandora, so next time we need to be more careful about catching all that momentum with the outside rein instead of leaping over to the rail, heehee.

Suffice to say that I am thoroughly pleased with my girl, and Leslie was too. After the lesson we chatted with her for awhile and Pandora just rested her chin on the railing and appeared to take a nap. Such a sweetie.

Okay, so, other updates!

Jumping lessons have been going very well with Pandora too. We jumped a tarp-liverpool at Devin's a few weeks ago with no issues. A couple skinnies went very well too (and I mean, like, 3' face skinnies. They were NARROW). One thing we did try is a new bit, which I am borrowing from Devin, but I will order my own soon. It is this, which I have heard called a Wonder Bit frequently. From what I understand it is basically a quite mild gag. I'm going to order it in this form, which is just double-jointed instead of single-jointed. I think the slight gag effect is enough without the nutcracker action of a single-jointed mouthpiece.

We tried this because while jumping outside, Pandora was getting a bit silly. Nothing major, but when she tried to rush badly and I corrected her hard, it kind of frustrated her. But I had to, because it was just a very gentle french-link snaffle. So far, the new bit appears to do its job. It definitely doesn't back her off because it's fairly mild, but if I half-halt, she listens and I don't have to get very firm with my hands. It works better for both of us.

To tell the truth, I'm not all that concerned about stadium jumping - it's XC that I think this bit will make a huge difference with. I haven't had a chance to take her out yet this year (I REALLY need to!) but I suspect the bit, combined with the huge improvements we've made since last year, will make her quite easy to ride on XC.

At our last jumping lesson we did some fun jumps off of serpentine-type loops, AND a fun accuracy question where you offset three fences in a line. To get over all three in a straight line, you have to jump the left side of the first one, the right side of the second, and the left side of the third.

Instead of | | |, shift the first and third up half a space. See?

So anyway, it's like jumping a series of skinnies. The first time through was a bit wonky, but the second time we held a dead-straight line and it jumped beautifully.

Other updates: we have had several interested people contact us about Pandora after just posting her on some Pony Club websites, but nothing definitive. One lady was going to come look at her for her daughter this weekend, but upon more discussion we came to the conclusion that it wasn't quite a good match. The plan is to put her up on Dreamhorse this weekend. I will certainly let you guys know and link you to the ad so that if you happen to know of anyone within driving distance of Oregon, you can let them know ;-)

If you're curious, here is the website we've set up to show pictures and video. This way we can link to it from our ads and provide more in-depth information. I think the dressage video from Wednesday is going to go up there as soon as we can put it together, and believe me the moment I can get her out schooling XC there's going to be some new video too.

So, in the short-term, we're just going to keep doing what we're doing. Unfortunately I am not taking Pandora to the show-jumping rally, which would be a great place to advertise her, because I'm going for my C-2 rating on McKinna on May 1 and the two of us really need to add some miles at 3' before then. Pandora's still improving by leaps and bounds in lessons, so she'll obviously keep going to those. I will just keep juggling two horses until we get her sold, I guess!

I have a couple free-ish weekends later this month, so perhaps I can make it out to school cross-country soon. I think Pandora is in a fairly unique niche because she's kind, easygoing, young-ish, and capable of doing very well at lower-level stuff (up to 3' for sure), she is nicely between dead-lazy and TB-hot, and she's in a pretty low price range ($5000), and she has the best attitude ever. Hopefully someone looking for a horse in that niche will come across her sooner rather than later.

Alright, off to do some homework. I will put up the video from Wednesday ASAP.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

Two horses at my barn use that same bit. I have ridden one of them and it's nice! Like you say, it gives a little extra help with half halts but lets you be soft with your hands the rest of the time. Glad you found something that works!

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