Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oops..Full Gallop = Success!! (But another pink ribbon...ugh pink!)

So.. I could have sworn I posted about Full Gallop?!?! Oh well... I guess it's fine to post now :)
Flecky was AWESOME!!! Oh my, he is BACK!! And better than ever!

oh... ha ha.. I did post.. but on Danny's blog.. .so here it is...

Friday morning Kathryn came and gave Fleck his massage. She said he just continues to feel better and better every time she sees him. (well, minus that one time when we had the tummy issues and the shoe change). Yay!! I told her that she made me feel better. I keep saying that "this will be Fleck's last hurrah at eventing"... or "at prelim"... but then he just keeps feeling great, so I keep doing more. So the fact that he feels better and better makes me happy! And not as worried about him. But yes.. he really does seem to feel better than ever and is having fun, so.. why not?! :) 

Anyways, so after Kathryn left I finished packing and then we headed to Aiken. I had a great ride with him that evening. We started stretching but Beth had me REALLY stretching him. He was allowed a long rein on contact and stretching or he had to be connected on the shorter rein and working. No running flat and on the forehand. And in order to do that... less hands, more leg. MORE BEND, MORE LEG! I also had to let go of that darn left rein when we were tracking right. I don't know why I feel the need to hang on it. Well, I do. I feel like his left shoulder goes flying out and I have to hold it in place by holding that left rein. But that doesn't really allow for him to reach and stretch. But I also can't give too much. Fleck felt really good. Then we worked on getting him to take a longer stride without getting faster. I'm not sure what the difference was (the massage, me giving up on the outside stranglehold, him gettting a good stretch, or just things falling together) but I was actually able to get him reaching more without speeding up. YAY! It was awesome. So then we worked on the canter, also starting with a stretchy canter. We worked on making him dance behind again. Dance, Flecky dance! Hee hee. We got some lovely canters too. And then, shockingly, our counter canter was nice and balanced too. Beth did say to have him more bent to the inside (so counter bent to the true lead but more straight than anything) and not overbent to the correct lead to hold it. And then we went to work on the trot lengthen and that is where we found the hole. When I go to close my right leg against him, he canters. And in his defense, that's pretty much how I ask him to canter. But he's also using it a slight excuse because it's easier to canter than to bend around my right leg. So, Beth pointed out that I need to use my elbows instead of my wrists and really keep my hands high (which is effect bringing my elbows to my waist, which is what Cindy and I have been working on). And I also need to push him into the connection better. So when I close my right leg and he canters, leave that right leg on until he trots, then take it off. And keep my right elbow bent to help keep him bent around my right leg. And then when I did that and also put my right leg on softly and kept it there, I got some phenomenal trot lengthenings. I still needed to sit up and back almost, lifting my chest. And it helped still too if I allowed it to build rather than push for it. So we quit with that and get everyone settled and headed to bed.

With the show being a one day, it was hectic busy. But fun. We skipped braiding and jackets since it was so toasty warm and a one day. I got on and headed to warm up. And it was FANTASTIC! He felt amazing. We got the nice big lofty trot with a big stride and a slow rhythm. And then Beth pointed out that my hands were uneven. My right hand wants to be low and my left hand wants to be forward/ahead. So she had me hold my crop in my hands. Doh! I need to do that once a week to help me get my hands even and also less fussy. It was amazing how by doing that I couldn't use my hands and fiddle with him. But wow... he was still very soft and steady in the bridle. Shocking ;) It really is all leg and seat. So then we worked on the leg yields and I need to do three things to get good leg yields... slow it down, go sideways, and make sure the shoulder is leading.  Which, is harder than it sounds. But we did manage to get it all together and get some really really nice leg yields. Going left is still harder. Oh, and bend... keep the inside bend. He tends to counter flex a bit for some reason. I'm sure it's something I'm doing or not doing, but I can't quite figure it out. But if I do those four things, it figures itself out. Then we did a few lengthens again and then it was our turn.

Our test was okay. I definitely did not have what I had in warm up. That ring just feels so cramped and that test is so busy. There is no time to fix anything. It feels like you're only in each movement for three strides. So... it was a little braced and a little rushed, but we did manage to do every movement without breaking or having any mess ups. We managed a 33.9, which put us in 5th out of 9 I think. Maybe 10.

Then we got a little breather and then it was jump time. Argh! I was feeling pretty nervous but surprisingly the closer we got, the less nervous I got. I guess I knew that we could do it. I just had to ride right. And he just felt so good.. it was hard not to get a little excited. The stadium course looked super fun and not at all maxed out. But it did have a triple. Yay! We warmed up pretty well. He felt great and kept taking the slightly long spots happily. No stops! Although some of the long spots felt very "reachy"... like he had to heave a little to make it completely over. Beth said it was because I was taking my leg off at the fence. So, I had to kick at the base, kick over the fence, and then kick on landing. (not kick.. squeeze). So we went in and it was a pretty good round. We had a sticky fence to two and three, and then I managed to get it together and ride better and the course got smoother. The last four fences felt great! I rode a little strong into the triple but was able to settle. So yay. NO STOPS!!!! And we were now into XC still on our dressage score. Yay! Mission accomplished.

We jumped the coop at an angle twice for warm up and then it was our turn. The course was not an easy course, but it was a nice course. Technical but not maxed out. It was a table, to a "mushroom" then to a new skinny brush fence. Then you rolled back behind the skinny and jumped two big rolltop brush fences on a one stride bending line. EEEKS! It was a serious question and one that I knew I had troubles with. The first roll top brush was the training one and the second one was the prelim one but I swear they were huge! And they were set in a slight dip so that the second one looked even bigger. Then it was a table then to the bank. It was a really cool bank complex. A hanging log, one stride, up bank, over the ditch to the other bank, down the bank and then a bending 4 or 5 stride line to the next fence which was a chevron skinny. I'll be honest, the log to the up bank worried me a little. I just don't know that we've ever done that question before and I could see myself getting too far ahead of Fleck and/or too big into it and not being set up for the up bank, OR, I could see myself collecting too much so that he pooped over the first element and then had no energy to get up the bank. Then it was down the hill, through the woods, and to a table next to the scary trakenher. Then the skinny hanging log into the water to a table in the water. Then the barrels and around to the trakenher where the old ditch and wall was. The terrifying ditch and wall. And the ditch and wall was rebuilt to mimic the easier one, but was still scary. But luckily, we were jumping the trakenher next to it. Then a cool new pretty hanging log branch and then uphill to the water. The water was a skinny jump in, angled out bank, and one stride skinny rolltop. Then over the bench in the fence line, down the hill, over a big coop, up the hill, around and down over another table and then to the bank. It was a jump, down the bank, then angled to another skinny. Then the long haul to the finish fence. Nothing terrifying but some tough questions. Well, maybe 4a and b was terrifying. ;) Fleck started off on fire and we nailed the first three. We circled and lo and behold, he freakin' rocked through 4 a and b. WHOOO HOOOO!!! I was so proud of him. He jumped it perfectly. And I held my line. Yay! So then we got to the bank and he did that great too! But I was a bad Mommy and was so excited I forgot my landing gear so we landed on the down in a heap with me on his neck. I yelled out "Circling" as I knew he couldn't jump the chevron with me on his head. So we circled and I got back in the saddle and over it we went. It was a horrible approach and not straight on, but he did it. Then we went careening down the hill but settled to jump the table nicely. He jumped in the water fine but I guess I took my leg off because he landed kinda dead so I had to do a big pony club kick and flap my chicken arms to help him over the table in the water. hee hee.. Poor kid. Then we nailed the barrels and came around the corner to the trakenher. I tried to get him balanced around the turn and then suddenly his left shoulder went popping out to the left and he was drifting left at a fast bolt. I don't really know what happened. He wasn't spooking necessarily and I don't know why he wouldn't lock on to that fence and go for it. But it was like he was bolting back to the barn or something. And because it was sort of out of the blue, I reverted to old habits and just pulled on the right rein. Which just caused him to be even less able to jump it. So we had a run by and I circled and got him straight and underneath himself and he jumped it just fine. It wasn't even really worrying me at that point, so again, I'm not sure what happened. Oh well. I could smack both of us for that as it was a simple fence and we were doing so well. But he jumped the rest of the course awesome and we weren't too horribly off on time.

We ended up finishing 5th still! For being what I was hoping would be an "easy" course, it sure did have some problems. One friend had two stops at the 4b combo. Megan did the same thing I did and had a run out at the trakenher when Gabe bolted too. Maybe they were spooking at the ditch and wall. Hee hee. Like their Mommas. And another friend of mine was eliminated at the water. And then I think another person had one stop. So.. even with time and the stop, I still finished fifth.

I'm so proud of us both though. We fixed stadium and I believe that is due to me riding better. Yay! If I play the what if game... IF we hadn't had our stop, we presumably wouldn't have had time, which means.. we would have finished second. But you know... it's always one phase. Next time we'll have a horrible dressage score but finish on it. ;) hee hee... He felt great after and looks great today so.. I can't complain!

I really think he's getting it now and I'm getting it. It's just a matter of putting it all together at the same time. And that stop was really just a silly stop. It wasn't like we didn't get it or understand the question. It was just silly bolting pony. And silly mommy forgetting how to fix an old issue. BUT I do wish I had remembered to ride better and get my feet in front of me and then I wouldn't have had to circle for the chevron after. So... still some stuff to work on, but all in all... we can do this! :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's finally sinking in!!!!

I really think that Fleck and I are getting it!!! We have had yet another really good ride! I feel like I'm starting to understand and get things and can adjust them quicker and I am starting to anticipate and do things almost as Cindy and/or Beth is saying them.

We had a great lesson today with Cindy. We started with our stretchy walk and trot and then went right to work. The trot was much better from the get go. I just need to remember to really balance and supple him with that outside rein and inside leg. I was able to get a bigger trot without speed. Yay!! And we had a great canter too. He was much bouncier! Our canter lengthens to working canter was even smoother. We didn't quite maintain the jump but it was getting close. We finished the lesson with a really lovely half pass to the left, our hard side!!! 

So exciting!!!! I hate that he's about to get three weeks off because I feel like we're both really clicking and getting it now! I hate to lose the momentum. But I know that he needs some down time and it'll help him. And hopefully I won't forget everything. :)

I so wish I had pictures or video today but he felt so good!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I'm learning, I'm learning!

Today was a good dressage day. Nothing too horribly exciting, but good work. And I'm learning and getting rid of some of my bad habits! There was a few times today when Fleck braced and inverted and instead of panicking and fighting with him to come back down... I just sat quiet and waited and he settled back down into the contact. Yay! And I could feel when he was shoving his barrel into my right leg and responded appropriately. Sweet!! Then we had a pretty decent trot lengthen and a few steps of LOVELY half pass!! I really think I over think it and make it more difficult. I am too afraid we'll end up leg yielding so I straighten him too much in the half pass. But he really needs to lead with his shoulders. And once I do that, he can get the bend, and then..... LOVELY HALF PASS!! Yay!

So yep.. some good work. Cindy said he was getting more "strutty" and proud of himself. :)


Bank Bounce Success

Whoo whooo!

After the dressage show, Fleck got Mon and Tues off because of work. Wednesday we had a XC lesson scheduled with Beth. At noon. On a day that was set for 92 degrees. Ugh! But we all manned up and did it. And it really wasn't too bad once we got on. There was a nice breeze that helped a good bit. 

We all got on and headed out to the field at Ashland. We started our warm up by walking over the ditches. Fleck decided that yet again... walking was boring. So he spiced it up by crow hopping and bucking on the landing side. Repeatedly. Then we went to warm up with some trots and canters. Fleck opted for gallops. ;) I was really glad he felt so good and because he's him, I was able to keep him controlled. So we warmed up and then jumped some of the jumps out in the field. I worked on my alternating half halts and keeping him packaged between both legs and both hands. Forward and balanced and not behind my leg. 

So then we went to the banks. We had set up a bounce vertical at the top of the prelim bank. We warmed up over the smaller banks and then I headed to the up bank. It went pretty well actually! He "ooof"ed over it the first time. Beth said I was being too restrictive with my hands. And I think it's because I'm just a hair behind the motion and therefore I'm balancing on the reins somewhat. But I'm afraid to get ahead of him because of what happened at Chatt Hills that fourth of July. So... I must get a neck strap and remember to use it on the up banks. So then we turned around and came down. He stopped the first time and it was because he was all strung out and on the forehand. So I got my "MAD CANTER!" going. My startbox canter, my tigger canter, my revved up and pissed off bouncing in place canter! And he was awesome! BUT... I need to remember my landing gear! I need to keep my feet out in front of me so when I land, I land in balance. Not slung up on his neck with no way to recover for whatever comes next. We did that a few times and I got it. 

Then we went on and did the water and the trakenher and some courses. Oh, and I even jumped that big scary wide oxer. Which, when I jumped it in a collected but forward gallop fence gallop, it jumps just fine. 

That's about all we did because it was so hot and the horses were blowing pretty hard. Flecks' breathing was even a little loud and raspy at the end but he recovered fairly quickly. So we all headed to the lake and let them soak a bit. Fleck got in pretty deep! It was that hot. He soaked his belly and my feet got wet. 

But yep.. a fun day. I was proud of both of us. We managed to get it without too much difficulties. Yay!

Monday, June 10, 2013


I woke up early to get some interval work in and holy smokes!!! It was so darn humid even at 7 am. Luckily by the time I got to Ashland and tacked up there was a bit more cloud cover, a nice breeze and the humidity had dropped a bit. So we got to work. We did 3x5 trot sets easily. Then I let him have an extra minute to breathe before starting the canters as the air was like potato soup! So then we did 2 four minute canters with a gallop the last 30 seconds and I gave him an extra minute between to catch his breath again. Afterwards we rested up for about 5 minutes and then we did a bit of jumping. I did the corner and coop combo again but did it coop to corner this time. He was still raring to go and felt great. Then Kelly joined us and we went and soaked in the lake for a bit to cool off. At this point, we were both dripping. After our soak, Peri joined us and we went for a nice hour long hack through the woods. Then Peri went to work on the ditches and Fleck was ready to go again! Yay! I'm so glad he feels so good.

Although I guess I should up the fitness just a little bit. But perhaps when the humidity doesn't make it feel like we're swimming!

Fleck did have fun cooling down in the lake though!

Dressage Debut = Successful!

Whoo hooo!!! Success!! We accomplished our goal today! And given the day I had yesterday, that it quite shocking. Yesterday was a very frustrating day to start out. I had worked three overnights in a row and gotten very little sleep. I did manage to pick up the truck and trailer and the new breaks are much better! Then Mike took the brand new car in because of the door issue and that's where it all went downhill. They were rude and it ended up causing Mike to stand in the sun all day waiting for a tow truck, which mean that I went and helped and wasted my whole morning dealing with that...NOT sleeping or riding. So then Mike took pity on me and let me come home and ride and he went back and waited. So I at least got to ride, which was sooooo beneficial for my mood. Fleck and I ran through our two tests again and then took a soak in the lake. Then I gave him a bath and covered him in show sheen so he'd hopefully stay clean. Then Mike and I went to dinner, the went to see a movie. So by the time we got home, it was midnight... and I had to get up at 6 am! Egads. I had luckily clipped Fleck that morning so he was mostly taken care of. This morning when I got up, l lucked out! I was up so early he hadn't laid down for a nap yet! Or if he had, he was up again and the show sheen did the trick. Yay! So he got breakfast and then I braided him lickety split (Christina said they looked lovely!) and off we went. 

Beth met us in warm up and got us working. She said to think of my butt as a marshmellow and my body/core as the stick. Ha! Not sure what a marshmellow butt is supposed to do, but whatever she meant by it... I got it and did it. I think she meant to sit a little softer in the saddle and go with the flow more instead of being quite so rigid and subconsciously driving. Which is funny, as I used to ALWAYS get comments about not sitting enough. I also needed to sit back with my shoulders and lift my chest for the lengthens. The difference was amazing! When I lift my shoulders and core, his shoulders come up and it got pretty! I also needed a bit more inside bend... through my elbow though because I was almost riding him too straight. I need to get a bit more bend, but don't soften that outside rein just because of that. I also need more bend in my elbow in the leg yields. So he was really good in warm up and we were feeling pretty good going into my test.

We headed over for 1-2 and in we went. Fleck was REALLY Good! I wish I had videoed that test, but I am hoping to get some good pictures from the show photographer. We had some good moments, and some stuff we could have improved. We ended up with a 63.7% and 2nd place. Out of four!!! Wowee! Go us. So... check off one of our scores for our bronze medal!!! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I was so proud of him. We didn't embarass ourselves or anything!

So then Beth said that for our second test she wanted me to push the envelope a little. It couldn't count for our bronze medal because they require two scores above 60 but from two different judges and two different tests. So, since it was the same judge, it wouldn't count. An since I'm not going to be able to afford to do enough dressage shows to compete in GDCTA awards either, I might as well have fun with this one. So in warm up, we pushed it a little. She wanted his hind end "dancing". More active! When I add leg or whip, it means pick your hind legs up a little quicker, not faster and choppier. So we played with that. And Fleck was amped up already. He came into warm up on high alert and was kind of tense and jiggy. We managed to get him soft and supple and "dancing" in the hind end. And then we went over. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Fleck was never really paying attention. He was looking at the gallop field, the other horses, out of the ring. He just was convinced that it was time to jump!! We do dressage, then we jump. So the test was a bit rocky. ;) He cantered through most of the trot and walk work, then I forgot my test and we went off course. It was just... bad! But... Beth was actually proud of me! She said that I kept riding him to make him dance and when he was good, he looked really really nice! She was proud of me for not giving up and just going for a nice pleasant test. So... fine, I'll take it. And you know, our scores were actually a smidge higher in some places so she's right. He was fancier when he was "with" me as opposed to looking for stadium or XC fences. Hee hee. I was just laughing really. I mean, what else could I do? Though I do believe I was telling him "I want to beat the ever loving crud out of you right now, you big giant turkey" as we were free walking across the diagonal. It was actually a lovely free walk too... until we got close to the letter and he started inverting and jigging. Oh well. We ended up with a 56.2 or something, but still placed 7th out of 10 or 11. Ha ha!! I wonder if I hadn't forgotten our course if we would have been in the ribbons even. 

So yep... a fun day. I'm glad we survived and I think Fleck and I can get our second score next time and then hopefully move onto second level. We'll have to see whether we can do third level or not, but I hope so. How cool would that be to get my bronze on him?!?! :) I hope we can do it!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fun Day

Well, I suppose EVERY day is fun with Fleck. :) 

This morning I went out early and did some dressage with Flecky. I got him nice and stretchy and then we did a bit of lateral work and then ran through the test. Luckily, at this point Christina and Liz arrived for our trail ride. Christina got on quicker and watched me run through the test. She gave me some great suggestions. 

For the trot lengthens... don't rush it or even ask for it.. just allow it happen. It makes for a much better more through lengthen for us. We may not get as much... but less lengthen but correct lengthen is better than just running faster and on the forehand.

For the canter lead change through the trot, don't let him lengthen and power across the diagonal. Cindy mentioned that to me the other day too. He really wants to power down there for some reason. So I need to sit up and engage him and keep him collected. Then I get a lovely simple. I almost need to ride it like I'm about to ask for the walk between the transitions. 

His entry is lovely. He's very soft and over his back. Perhaps it is because we are going straight and I'm not meddling with his face. But perhaps it's because he's a bit more forward. So maybe I should ride him a bit more forward through out the test. 

She said our leg yields were great and he was actually pretty straight at the canter. She said she noticed a difference in our lengthens at the canter too. Yay! So, maybe, just maybe, we will get our scores this weekend. And we have Amy McElroy as our judge! If I remember properly, she likes Fleck. :) YAY! Though I need to check and see if I need two different judges for the scores or if it can be two different tests with the same judge. Fingers crossed we get it. Though I realize many things can happen and we may not quite get it. I hope though. We're capable.. it will just require me actually riding...and hopefully Fleck not spooking if we end up in the indoor.

So then we went for a fun trail ride. Christina and Sham and Liz and Party. They were all great. We had fun trotting and cantering. And ha! Liz's 5 year old was the best behaved horse. But we had a good time. We ended up at the lake and Christina had to head home. We let Fleck splash around a bit and then we hit the XC field. Liz wanted to play some. Apparently Fleck has had too much dressage lately because as he was watching Party go I had him on the buckle. I picked up the reins just to have him move and he bolted into the canter. Hee hee.. Okay, if you insist... :) So we decided that we would jump a few things. I've been itching to jump the smaller roll top to the bigger roll top because they were set up as two sets of 3 strides side by side. By jumping the smaller one to the bigger one I was able to angle them. And it wasn't a steep angle and the roll tops are a mile wide, so it wasn't a hard question, but... it was a question we needed to work on. Of course Fleck was great. So we turned around and did them downhill and he was great again. Then they had the two skinny coops set up on a very slight bent line next to the corner. Hmm... It was a fairly tight bent line (for us at least) to do the corner to the coop, so I tried it. Shockingly it went well. We did it three times. The first time we drifted a bit left over the corner so he had to reach for the longer spot but did it. And I sat and saw the distance with my seat, closed my leg and supported, and he was happy to go for it. The second time we did it I didn't quite have enough energy and we chipped in a teeny bit to the corner but got the out over the coop nicely. The third time we just about nailed it. Yay!!! But it was so nice that we had three different rides but they all ended well. Yay!!! There IS something to be said about riding the canter and not the distance. So then we watched Liz play some and I decided I might as well do the trakenher again since it still isn't my favorite thing in the world. We did the ditch to hanging log first and then circled around to the trakenher. It was pretty darn good!!! He came right to it and jumped it out of stride!! No lurching, no pitter patter step or shuffle step, just a big jump over. And it was interesting because he almost felt like as he jumped it he realized he didn't quite get high enough so he had to pull himself up a bit. Liz said he came to it just a little bit flat, but that he was balanced enough that he was able to lift his withers and lift his knees and clear it. YAY!!! The fact that he didn't have to twist is Big! 

It was a great day. Liz made my day even better by telling me how good he looked. She said he looked sound, happy, and ready to go. She said he was jumping better than he's ever jumped and that my position looked great too. WHOO HOOO!!! Nice things to hear. 

So yep... a fun day. I love hanging out with Liz too. She's always a good time.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dressage lesson

Another good dressage lesson with Cindy. I warmed him up on my own and we did some stretching. Then we went to work. We did some lateral work to improve his trot. I need to get that big lofty back swinging trot! Then with our lengthens I need to remember to keep the stride SLOW.. not just run him. Argh... I feel like I broke my trot lengthen. I was starting to get a decent one it seems, but now he's just running. Argh, so I'll have to remember to bounce and lift and go slow. And half halt so he's rocked back. Then we went to the canter. Oooh la la! His canter is really coming along. We got a nice soft slow canter today and he didn't feel like he was going to break! YAY! BUT.. it was hard hard work. For both of us. I HAVE TO remember to shorten that outside, especially to the left. By keeping that outside of his body connected and not flung out, he really uses himself. And to help do that... I have to keep my elbows at my side. If I'm moving my hips in the canter, my elbows will then move with him. And... as the video proves... while I think my elbows are clamped down to my side, they are in fact, still floating in the air. So my goal for this weekend is to really think about getting my elbows down and back and my shoulders down and back with my sternum up. And to think of wearing a corset to keep me from wiggling. 

What else? I think those were the main take away points from today.  


Kelly Eaton Clinic at Wishing Tree Farm

Beth coordinated a clinic with Kelly Eaton, her trainer, at Wishing Tree Farm. It was a fun day. I got there as early as I could to watch. I managed to catch some of Kathy's ride. It was very educational. She was telling Kathy how many riders want to lean forward during the upward transitions, especially to the canter. Duh! Weren't Peri and I just talking about this! She said to think about keeping the legs straight and down but to almost think of leaning back. I figured she was over exaggerating it a bit because most of us lean forward. I think she wants us to lift our sternum up and back. And maintain the forward. She had Kathy and Missy looking great. Then I got to watch Beth and Nike go. They were working on getting Nike more receptive to the leg and more rocked back and powerful. They got some nice work done! Then I had to go tack Fleck up for my lesson.

Beth was riding Giselle with me during my jump lesson because the weather was threatening to storm so we wanted to get everyone in. We warmed up and got to work. She started us out with a grid. She is funny!! She reminds me of Beth a bit with her sneaky challenging stuff. So we started off with two trot poles to a cross rail. Then it progressed to a vertical after and then with a placing pole in the middle. She purposely set it a bit tight so that we would have to keep them packaged. She was wanting us to envelope them in a envelope of aids. They had to stay within the aids. She sized us up right away and had me get Fleck short and bouncy but forward. Packaged if you will, and round. I needed to sit tall and give with my elbows but still keep him bouncy. And it worked. Well, ha! Most of the time. He "flantered" through the ground poles, tripping over them, one time and we managed to get out of the grid just fine. But it was ....pleasant. ;) So then we added more to the grid and he was jumping well. I was giving just a bit more with my elbows but not abandoning him. Then we added some additional jumps. She had me maintain the same canter around the hill and down to the skinny vertical down the hill. I tried to do what Beth had taught me the other day about half halting with alternating reins and.. it just didn't work so well. It felt like he was locking against me and just running at it. Kelly agreed. So I worked on getting him rounder around the turn and then keeping him soft and round and collected down the hill to the skinny. No counter flexing because...as Kelly pointed out... all that accomplished was then throwing him onto his right shoulder instead. He went from hanging on the left rein to not being on any aids. The problem is that he's not bending around my right leg. (Shocking huh... cause where else does that show up?!). So to fix it... make him bend around my right leg and push him into my left rein. I can do it using leg yields. So we did that and it got a little better but he still felt like he was bracing. So then Kelly told me to sit and drive him forward with my seat. When he inverts and braces on me, the key is to leg him forward into the bridle. Leg him round. She said that to help accomplish that, to drive with my seat a bit. But not forget the leg. And to quote many famous upper level people "most riders see the distances with their seat". Or something to that effect. So.. I did, and it really helped! And then we went on to the oxer and while he got a little bit strung out, because I sat I could see that it was slightly long and I was able to wrap my legs around him and push and move him up to the bigger distance. Yay! So then we came downhill to a single barrel, made into a channel with wings. We trotted it and she explained that we had to really hold them to the base as the channel would make them want to take long. I had to work hard, but he listened. Then we made it more narrow and I was still able to keep him to the base. And straight! Whoo hoo.

So... nothing earth shattering and nothing real challenging, but.. it was fun. And helpful. I wasn't riding very well... and Fleck felt much more braced than usual, so it was good that we accomplished what we did. 

Then I got to watch Beth and Atlas and Stephanie and LC go. They had some good work too. It was neat to see how quickly and accurately Kelly sized up the horses. Lots of fun. I'm looking forward to the next one!