Harley, Romeo, R, and I, headed to the equestrian center again. Jennifer met up with us on the way. The new weather brought us a nice breeze, and MUCH cooler temperatures. The lower humidity alone made the day delightful. Security unlocked all the relevant gates and turned on the lights. We found the entire complex our own. No one in the arenas, no one driving around. Security guard "dummy locked" the gates, so it did appear to the unnoticing eyes that the entire facility was locked up. We were parked nearly out of sight, and found the entire facility our own.
I started out with Harley, and things went well. Dressage saddle again, and we had much the same results as Sunday morning. Harley let me know early in his longe that he'd had enough, this was day 5 straight of work, and he wanted no part of going big, or going fast. I attached the neck stretcher to the girth buckles, and saw the beginnings of the transition to side reins. Other than lazy, he didn't fight the new stretcher position, and responded nicely.
My ride was hard work. I won't lie and say he was springy and forward. He was a lazy sloth. Rethinking the ride, I'm chuckling to myself. I had to use an absurd amount of leg to get him going forward. At one point, I was curious just how short his trot stride was. I rode out to a part of the arena that hadn't seen hooves, and rode a big half circle. Back to the other end of the arena where R, J, and Mo were waiting, I let my legs rest a minute. As I rode back over the back of the arena and that fresh circle, I saw hoofprints that were tracking up. I laughed, right out loud, and caused J to ask, "Uh, what's up?" "Um, I thought he was being lazy and short. Turns out, lazy yes, short no. He's actually tracking up back there, just saw the hoofy prints." Through more laughter, I started asking for less from him. I was expecting Harley to be short strided, while he was just being slow about it.
Canter work brought us two wrong left lead departures. Partially my fault, as I asked very early in the ride. I had hoped the canter might wake up his trot - no such luck. J laughed at us, saying, "He just wanted to prove to you he can still get it wrong for an audience." Pfft! After the two wrong leads to start, Harley was impressively polite, all other requests correct.
Longed him about 15 minutes, rode about 35. Asked for some pieces and parts of a few walk/trot dressage tests, since plans are still being made for early October. J and I discussed registering us as a pair for Championships at w/t level. "You're going to burn yourself like you did before. Don't assume the worst. Registration just might be worth it. So you have to take him to an extra show for the scores, how bad is that? Besides, you know where they're having championships, and it'd be really good experience for him."
Again, after the ride on Harley, while trying to focus on Romeo's basic reinforcement ride, my mind was running at mach speeds, churning with the possibilities. Houston Dressage Society holds two levels of walk/trot - Introductory (USDF), and Green As Grass (Local). That's two opportunities to qualify for Championships. Are we up for the challenge? Just what are the judges looking for at the starter/beginner level? Are they focused mostly on the rider, and expecting only young beginners to ride walk/trot? Are they giving allowance for intermediate riders and green baby horses? Will they reward forward movement, or are they expecting the beginnings of collection as well? Am I "stealing ribbons" from a beginner amateur by entering Harley with hopes of championships at walk/trot levels? He's nowhere ready for Training Level, and that's in my 2012/2013 plans. NOT my 2011 goals in anyway. Where to go from here. ..