Saturday, October 16, 2010

All Better?

I'm pretty sure that a good gallop is a cure for any evil, just so you know. Per chiropractor's orders, I saddled up on Wednesday and headed for the hay field. McKinna was all kinds of wound up-- head in the air, scooting at movements in the underbrush, general silliness. I had to trot a good three laps around the field before she settled and stretched into my hands a little bit.

So, finally, I let her pick up a canter. We cruised down one side of the field, a good soft hand gallop, nothing exciting, maybe a slow N pace. Balanced around the turn because the grass is getting longer and I was worried it could be a bit slippery. Then we turned onto the straightaway up the long gradual hill and I really let her fly. We were hauling some serious butt! I don't have a perfect feel for pace (times like these I'm jealous of Stacey's supercool heart-rate monitor tech) but I am somewhat experienced with testing out different gears, and I'm pretty sure we were going on at least a very fast Training, or maybe a slow Prelim, pace.

I haven't gone that fast in quite awhile! It was awesome. She didn't even lose any power when the hill got a little steeper, just dug in and blasted up. Definitely NOT the mysterious lack of power I was experiencing a couple weeks ago. Then we came back to a walk, walked down the steep part of the hill, and picked up our right lead. I let her go down the long side again, came up the backside of the hill, and decided to let her canter down the front face of the hill too. I've actually never done that before - it's not STEEP as in unsafe, it's just a pretty good incline and I've never felt like she's been balanced enough to canter it. But she felt great, so I just settled into a light seat and supported with my leg. She cruised down with no problem.

McKinna was a happy camper after that gallop. Warm and a bit sweaty, but ready to go another twenty rounds it felt like. Hosed and scraped her a little, put her in her stall with her hay, and that was that!

She then got Thursday off.

Yesterday was a Pony Club jumping lesson with Devin, which went very well. It was so cool to have other people jumping the same heights as me! One of the girls did lower stuff, but she AND her horse just started jumping a couple months ago and they are already cantering short courses in quiet, steady fashion. Certainly better than I ever started out...

McKinna was a little strung out in her canter during the flat warmup, and Devin had me sit in a little more to get her to step under herself and slow, but it wasn't happening much. I just gave McKinna the benefit of the doubt - she just got adjusted and her only work since then has been a gallop, so it's understandable that she might have a bit of difficulty collecting. As long as she went along politely, I just let her be.

Luckily, once the jumping started I felt like we had a better canter. Devin set up a monster of a course, lots of possibilities for crazy rollbacks and bending lines and regular lines, so it was pretty fun. McKinna was basically her rock star self. Easy to ride, pretty straightforward. Not a 100% canter but still a pretty darn good one, and it got better as the evening went on. By the end we jumped an 11-fence course with several jumps set on 20m turns, with at least half the course bending or straight lines on related distances, set at 2'9 to 3'ish. Including a line from a swedish oxer to a 3' parallel oxer on an angle. Pretty sweet.

The last round I really focused on building a bigger canter and riding the jumps a little more aggressively, aiming for a slightly longer-than-usual spot because she tends to want the deep ones. It worked out beautifully! She had this wonderful, flowing jump over pretty much all the fences and we absolutely nailed all the tricky lines. We did have a couple bobbles, almost entirely my fault. About halfway through the course, on a turn to a single fence, I started second-guessing the longer-spot strategy and picked to the fence and we got a super deep spot without enough power. Sigh. I went back to my original plan and the next fences rode great.

She also had a weird hesitation at the last fence, I think because I didn't show her soon enough that we were headed for it. What impressed me was two things: first, when she jumped, I stayed mostly in the middle of her and got a bit left behind. That means I'm not jumping ahead pretty much ever anymore! Yay. Second, she hesitated, but then when she took off it was a good clean powerful jump and she cleared the fence with no trouble. That tells me that over the course of the evening we successfully developed that power and confidence in her, to the point that she still had a lovely jump after a quick pause. I just circled around and jumped it again and it was as beautiful as all the rest. Goooood pony.

So I'm very pleased with McKinna right now and feeling optimistic that the chiro work has done some magic. I definitely haven't felt that level of easy strength off the ground from her in awhile. Next test will be the dressage lesson on Monday. This weekend we'll just have some fun, wash her tail, and go for some light rides.

At the end of the lesson, one of the two brothers who just joined our club (seriously! boys! in Pony Club!) said, "Is that your horse?"

"Yes she is," I said. "Well...technically she's my mom's horse."

And that's just how it works.


Leah Fry said...

Nice photo — you guys look great!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, a gallop is good for forgetting any troubles! That's for sure!!!

LOL, funny you mention the HR monitor thing, I need to find out what pace 300 mpm is in mile/min so I can start getting it right for next month. We'll figure it out when we ride that course this weekend.

Anyway, hehe, boys in Pony Club, that's pretty cool! Are they any good? JK!

manymisadventures said...

They're both pretty young and just starting to ride - maybe 8 and 10? Very sweet and friendly and ready to learn, though! And absolutely adorable on their ponies.

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