The things a little energy can give us.
I've had some really REALLY nice rides on Harley in the cooler weather. It's finally cooled here - blankets at night, sometimes all day. A strong cold front blew in just before Thanksgiving, and made it downright yuck for about two days. Cool, windy, and rainy. When the arena dried for work, I was surprised to find Harley ready to go. No wild goofball moments, no "spook at the trees or birds", but instead, more long&low stretch than I've had voluntarily in a LONG time. He started the ride stretching down, which really shocked me. I had some trot moments that were totally fantastic.
Yesterday, after snarfing down some amazing foods, I saddled him up huntseat and headed to the arena. A little longe, quiet pony. A bit of ride, quiet still. He had his head up, and while I didn't force collected work, he was drooling on the bit, and bending nicely. A little trot warm-up found him forward and alert. Let's just do this. R's in the house if I splat, I have my phone with me, here we go!
With a strong focus on forward trot heading to the ground pole, Xrail, ground pole, and a good tap of the new riding crop on his shoulder, Harley was almost in a canter heading towards the line. Boing! Straight up and over. He landed in the correct lead of canter, ears up & alert, looking for the next activity. We rode it three times straight, and each one felt a little better. Short walk break, and right back to it. I found myself able to focus on me, heels down, eyes up, look at the treetops over the jump instead of looking nowhere, hands entirely forward. He'll canter a stride or three away from the jump, then settle back to trot on his own. Not exactly what I'll need going into the future, but it's awesome not to need to hang on and worry about him going somewhere. Important when there's not a solid fence around the arena.
Changed directions, and headed left over the line. First time I've done that here, and important because, directly after the Xrail outside the arena, there's a huge clearing. This clearing usually causes a startle in the last four horses I've ridden out there. The north-west winds soar through that clearing - it goes for MILES with a huge hi-power electric line through it. Harley bent an ear towards it, but was pretty focused on what was going on. I made sure the trot was huge heading in, and he jumped very strong over the X. I think he originally didn't see the ground pole after, and over reacted. Still, I had my hands 3/4 the way up his neck, reins loose. I had a hunch the first go-over left would be big, so I made sure NOT to get in his face. The next few trips over got progressively better.
There was at least one jump that felt *perfect* to me. I don't mean in the "geez, I think I got it right", I mean both of us got it good. I felt very secure and balanced in front, over, and after, my reins were loose, heels were down, I felt like most of my weight was in my feet rather than centered in my bum, and Harley seemed to have a nice "pause/jump, land, canter".
A totally terrific ride. The bigger the trot going in, the better the jump. I'm looking forward to the next time we do it, and talking myself into adding that extra X. We're going to one more show this year, TL1, TL2, PC1. I'm going to read over PC2 for entertainment's sake, and perhaps try it out here at home, just to see how he does. MsN says that PC2 goes with TL, and I honestly haven't read it in a long time.
Y'all keep riding, or posting pictures of the snow. :) I've got some medical updates, and I'll get that post up sooner or later. Things are progressing, and not as quick as I'd like.