The plan was... To ride Ransom early, give him a loosened girth hay break, THEN tape. And, well, that didn't happen. R dropped me off at the barn, then went back to the hotel to pack our room and check out. He missed the whole second day of taping.
Heather and I talked for a while about what we were going to do. I changed clothes, dressed Ransom (who thought breakfast was a silly idea, and did not eat), and headed to the arena. We skipped the lunge warmup, and I hopped right on.
Ransom continue some of his choppy trot irregular nonsense from the day before. I was told over and over (& over, I think) to relax, and loosen the reins. Well, the relaxing with controlled breathing would work for a while, about five to six choppy strides, and then all half-halt efforts were completely ignored. Ransom had a "fast side" to the circle I was on, and a "slow concentrated side". I finally pointed out my feelings.
I know the "George Woffords" of the hunter world always want to blame the rider for the horse's behavior. But in this case, I'm going to side with the Clinton Anderson's of the world, and say "sometimes, it's the horse." He's not listening, he's not slowing down, and he is ignoring my half-halts.
Heidi called out from the open arena below, "We're ready for Jennifer now!"
I said to Heather, "No we're not, either. It's only been 30 minutes. We were supposed to have training time yesterday evening, and everyone left. We're getting it this morning, but until he calms down a little bit, I'm just not real comfortable saying the Day 2 tape will look any better than Day 1."
Heather saw Julie walking up the hill, and asked her, "Hey, Julie. Can we change his bit, maybe?" They discussed it a bit, and Julie agreed.
I took Ransom to the barn, where Julie switched out my loose ring twisted wire for a Myler #36. It looked like an eggbutt (with bridle & rein hooks) snaffle with a stainless steel roller in it, low port. Julie said to me, "Let's get him bridled in it, and take him to the arena. I want to ride him in it a little bit, and get him paying attention to it and used to it. Then you can ride."
We walked down to the arena. Um, okay, the puddle. Let's just call it a stickie puddle. It had rained four hours Wednesday night, and the arena was puddly. Thankfully, not slippery. But stickie. Julie mounted up on Ransom and I watched everything she did.
I saw lots of "release & contact", and walk & trot. She looked to be giving pretty sharp half-halts, and after some protest, Ransom started to drop his head, flex his neck, and relax. She trotted over the ground poles a few times, with crew adjusting them. I kept my eyes on her, even while they were putting the mic on me, and telling me what we were going to do.
The decision was made to skip the crossrail on Day #2. I say for my nerves, they say for the footing. Julie said the footing wasn't really safe to jump, so we'd stick to "low & slow."
We had 2 min 45 seconds left of tape time. I knew I couldn't play or ask questions. Julie dismounted, and I hopped on. I started at the walk, and then picked up a trot. Ransom was a little speedie-stickie. I half-halted. He rounded, and slowed. He Slowed!
I found the answer! I don't know if it was the training ride, or the bit, or both, but the half-halts were working again! I had my SuperHorse back!
For the filming, we rode on the flat at the trot a little while, and Julie commented my half seat & two point looked much better, and my position looked good. Then I widened my trot circle, and approached the poles.
In my head, I was thinking, "It's now, or never. Release the reins, whether you want to or not. Shorten the reins enough that I can get them back right after the poles, eyes up, heels down. Oh my, don't blow it, make it good."
I released the reins loose over the poles, Ransom trotted over them, and stayed in trot heading away. Julie cheered! I saw Heather with the crew smiling! We did it!
We repeated this a few times, and Ransom picked up canter away from the poles a few times. I sat deep, and held the reins tight, and he slowed to trot. It was still working!
When the crew said the filming was over, I hopped down. No way I was going to continue riding in that footing. Ransom was covered in mud speckles, his black polo wraps looked dotted mud.
As I walked up the hill, crew praising our second day (even Steve! Thanks man!), R came down the barn aisle.
"Are you ready to go on, yet?"
"Sorry, sweetie. You missed it. We just got done."