Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Perfect weather for some jumping with Mr. Bradley

Yesterday was just what I needed.  An entire day in the warm sun at A Bit Better Farm.  I may have had a long sleeve shirt (or 2 or 3) on, but seriously, I could have taken a nap on the roll top in the sun.  Now I know what it's like to be a dog and nap in that perfect sun spot on the floor.  But of course it's a clinic day, so there was work to be done.

We had a full day (18 riders) of lessons with Stephen Bradley.  And the awesome weather drew out a bunch of auditors (remember that auditing is FREE!), which was fun.  As an added bonus, some of these auditors stepped in as jump crew.  Yay!

Glenda and super stallion PL Diamond Hill.
(Photo courtesy of Playland Farm).
I was in the first lesson of the day along with Glenda Player on her stallion PL Diamond Hill, and Rumsey Keefe on her adorable Gmork.  Diamond always makes me smile with his enthusiasm for jumping.  This stallion is the real deal.  And I love watching Rumsey ride ... she makes it seem so easy!

Lissell was ready to GO the minute we stepped in the ring.  I was honestly surprised because she was practically falling asleep in the cross ties.  But she could have been in a Back on Track zen.  In any case, she was great, just great.  We worked on regulating her stride, to and away from the fences.  Lissell has this sneaky little habit of slyly lengthening her stride to the fences.  She doesn't bolt at them, so in a way, she's being as polite as she can, while at the same time blowing me off.  But what can you expect ... she's a thoroughbred mare with a lot of miles under her belt. We also worked on keeping her hind legs active through the turns (a definite theme that I've been hearing from all of my instructors over the past month). And the last big lesson for the day was me holding her out in the turns with my inside leg so she doesn't fall in.  I think the only time we made Stephen laugh was when Lissell did the 3-stride bending line to a skinny in a direct 2 strides.  Ooopsie!

Today's challenge.
The most shocking (and awesome) part of the lesson, was learning that I can in fact sit on my horse and RIDE HER without her having a complete meltdown about it.  I was joking that I think my horse is finally getting broke as she approaches her 20th birthday.  But in reality, I'm thinking that I'm finally learning to ride her.  I asked Stephen later in the day if he thought I should try a different bit on Lissell to help with her tendency to drop her head so low between fences or if I should just learn to ride better.  He politely chose the latter option.  hehe.  Lissell may come off as a hot head, but this mare has the patience of a saint.

Later in the day, Kelley had an awesome flat lesson on Bomber, complete with a few flying changes.  I always forget how good Stephen is as a dressage instructor, so it's nice to be reminded of that. Kelley heads down to Southern Pines II next week, and then back down to The Fork for the Advanced move up.  Yay Kelley!

Alison, Kari and Kelley waiting for instruction.
Mary's students Kari and Alison came over with super mare Kali and Mary's old gelding Knick.  It was interesting to watch Kari, because her mare has the same tendency to bury her head between fences. And Knick makes me laugh with his groaning and obvious displeasure at being told he doesn't know everything about jumping like he thinks he does. Kelley joined this lesson with Toby who put his big boy pants on and was a star.  This horse will be a great horse for someone looking for an athletic prospect.

The last lesson featured my favorite appaloosa, Moosetracks and good friend Holly.  ABBF'er Katie Cummings also joined this lesson on her new horse Ringo.  They both did great!  Can't wait to see these pairs out competing this spring/summer.

Last note of the day.  Dr Scullin came out to check on Lissell's ankles.  She's had some swelling in them for the past few weeks, and keeps banging them into something (hay feeder maybe??).  But she is older and arthritis is probably likely as well.  So we flexed her, and let's just say I never want to do that again!  So long story short, we decided to give her a shot of Legend and see what that gets us.  Oh yea ... this is Lissell's first Legend ... ever.  I think we should get Lissell a cape and re-name her Wonder Woman!

Until next time ...

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