|Spoiler alert - we played with some cowboy challenge stuff!|
But for now, let's back track to last weekend wherein I was still at Trainer K's and still playing pony all weekend long.
Sunday morning dawned earlier than the rest - at the potluck the evening before Trainer K had her white-board out and was arranging lessons and times to ensure those who had traveled a greater distance (ie. us, haha) had the best opportunity for hitting the road during the daylight hours. By this point in the camp I was feeling exceptionally sore, tired, and lackluster from late nights, hard lessons, and lack of fresh water facilities. I swear, after I had a shower at home I felt like a brand new person, haha.
So with that being said, I signed up for two lessons back to back - the first would be a "trail challenge" and the second being a Dressage/flat lesson. The Trail Challenge would be very low key, and I knew it wouldn't burn Annie out too much, so didn't really worry about having a flat lesson right afterwards.
|She was a brave little bean!|
We hacked up to the outdoor arena, and upon arriving, Trainer K noted I had forgotten to bring my halter. I grumbled inwardly at no one but myself and wandered back down the hill, grabbed my halter from the trailer, and headed back up once more. Annie didn't seem the least bit phased about all the wandering around, and by the time we had crested the hill, most of our lesson mates had joined. I popped off near the wooden bridge, noting Annie's eyes bulging out of her head (haha), and switched out my bridle for a halter.
The basis of the Trail Challenge was to do every obstacle from the ground first and then mount up and attempt the items one by one. I was excited for this, mostly because who doesn't want to play around with a variety of equipment with their ponies?! And there were tons of different things to try - and I'm sad I didn't get photos of them all, but there was: a "car wash", pool noodle gate, tarp, canter poles, cavaletti, a trail-style gate, log drag, old moose antlers to pick up and drop off on a barrel, a bag of popcans to pick up and drop off on a barrel, two bridges, two balls to push, "L" shape poles to back thru, a mattress covered in a tarp, a pedestal, wooden discs to use as pedestals, etc. I figured it would be a good way to work through stressful situations or scenarios, and have the assistance of Trainer K to help resolve any issues should they creep up.
|Dressage pony turned Ranch horse extraordinaire.|
We went to work and she surprised me by going through almost all of the obstacles on very first try with minimal cajoling from me. Of course, the simplest obstacle was the one she had the most issues with, haha. The pedestal was a cause of much dismay for Annie, who simply insisted she needed to step over it and not on it. While I appreciated her attempt, it was a bit frustrating since I seemed to be the only one who literally could not get her to step on it, haha. We moved onto some wooden discs and she failed to step on them as well, and carefully stepped over it nearly every time I asked. We did end up getting both front feet on one of the discs, but as soon as Trainer K let go of her other leg, Annie was like "I NEED TO STEP OFF OF IT NOW" and immediately removed her leg.
Which, is totally fine. I made a mental note to make a tire pedestal at the barn to play with for next time. New tricks and all that.
|Aced the pool noodles!|
Overall, it was very underwhelming for Annie and I, haha. She felt more up than usual, but I wouldn't say hot. She was just very... aware of everything going on around her. Which, I didn't blame her. There was a young horse having a meltdown over the mattress, several horses trotting by, etc etc. It was a busy atmosphere.
We did several of the items and spent some time just standing in the middle of the ring (working on that whole patience thing ;) ) and Annie did everything very well. It honestly was the highlight of the trip, haha. Something about just playing around with obstacles and achieving them was a good feeling.
|She wasn't a fan of the ball, but pushed it with her chest once or twice.|
She just didn't like when it came rolling back at her, haha.
After that, she was over herself and into the ring we went. We did a variety of things, but mostly focused on some cavaletti and canter poles, which proved to be difficult for poor Bannie. The canter striding was set for the larger horses, so we botched it a few times and she really had to stretch to get over them properly. The cavaletti took some figuring out, but eventually she got it.
|A wee, tension-filled set of haunches in, haha.|
She got over it once I popped her with the whip, insisting that I did in fact want her butt pointed out. We managed to get quite a few nice moments down the long side and quit after a particularly nice attempt on Annie's part. I made a mental note to play with them a bit more, since I seem to neglect the lateral stuff in favor of the simpler exercises I may be working on at clinics. It can be hard to balance it all though, because some days I feel like we are incapable of shoulder in, but then Trainer K reminds me that without practice, we will never be capable!
|A better attempt at the trot.|
- Push for quality - she can work hard and she can do MORE. Just remember to give her breaks as she works through things that are hard for her.
- Remember to be slow but powerful through the cavaletti.
- Don't fight with her - just make a circle and try the canter again. (The exercise was thru the cavaletti, turn left, canter and canter down the poles. Annie picked up the wrong lead a few times through the exercise and I was getting frustrated).
- Start her off long/ low and then transition into a higher frame. Remember to keep this work short, as it is harder for her.
- Do not let her get more than 45 degrees during the haunches in - and remember that even if she does 3 steps, let her walk out of it and try again. Small increments correctly.
- Don't let her rush through the cavaletti - set her back and compress her, but don't lose the forward.
We finished there for the day, and once back at the trailer, Annie stood like a perfect angel. She had Tyson to keep her company, so wasn't as antsy and although Tyson could have cared less about Annie's existence (he called out a few times for Fru, haha), Annie was more than complacent. I decided against tying her to the Time Out tree again, just because she had acted loads better at the trailer earlier in the day and had performed very well in our lessons, as well as after our lesson.
I tossed her back into her paddock with water and hay and got to work getting things packed up to head home. It didn't take long and everything was more or less ready - I was smart and packed all of my tack (aside from saddles) in a large tote so when we arrived back in TBC and I had to transfer all of my things from S's truck and trailer to mine, it took less than a minute. Annie traveled well, but did look at me like I had three heads when I led her up to my horse trailer. "Uhm... I was just on a trailer for 5 hours. You want me to get in another one?!" Thankfully she humored me and walked right on, but not without giving me a snide little look, haha.
|Canter poles are confusing!!|
She seemed happy to be home tho, and happily grazed in front of the barn for a few minutes before I turned her back out with Spud, who was very pleased to see his mare home. Make no mistake - Spud was very well pampered during my absence and one of our awesome traveling chiropractors came and adjusted him (I had noticed during our jogs he was short striding on his hind right) and gave him a quick massage. My suspicions were correct in that his pelvis was rotated, and after that quick fix, he was striding out normally.
That being said, even though I was happy to walk through the front door of the house, I started unpacking right away and even had a load of laundry done before finally crawling into bed. For the next three days both Annie and I felt the effects of the clinic - Annie actually scared me the day after we returned, as I had let her out to graze and she kept laying down flat out, grunting, in the one paddock. I walked around with banamine in my back pocket like a crazy person and stayed at the barn for an extra hour to monitor her. The diagnosis? Mare was just hella tired, haha.
|Note the droopy lip.|
(She had a halter on bc I thought she was colicking so wanted her easy to grab if needed).
Overall, it was a really amazing weekend and great preparation for busy show atmosphere. We had some really progressive lessons, learned a bunch of new things (and rediscovered some old tactics I had forgotten about), and spent the weekend with some really great people. I am planning on attending again next year, hopefully with a few more horsey friends :)