The week of Jan 29th to Feb 4th was the first more "relaxed" week there has been down here so far.
The week's lessons on Illuminator consisted of continual work on our pirouettes and development of the gaits and contact. Illuminator and I have struggled a bit finding the right way in the pirouettes, but since beginning instruction with Oded down here we are finding them more and more. It's a balancing act-- keeping the hindlegs active, the neck rideable, and still able to turn on the aids. We have now many different exercises to work on them and have made a lot of progress and improvement in the strength. Our trot work has come along quite quickly; Lumies trot has not been my favorite gait to ride because he doesn't have an easy elasticity and bounce within the gait. We have worked to produce better swing through his back to help find a better way of using the hindleg and eventually passage. In the contact in the trot we are bringing the neck rideably up, but thus far have to be careful because the rideablility of the neck sometimes subsides. Additionally, the more we work the more I gauge how much physically Lumie is ready for-- when his hindquarter becomes tired our right change becomes more difficult and unusually swingy. Its very educational and helpful to learn these things to plan for show days and to ensure his success in the ring and physical happiness outside of the ring.
I rode through the Intermediare 1 test for the first time with Lumie and was really pleasantly surprised by how the test rode here at home. So from there we did the White Fences schooling show on Wednesday Feb 15th and gave the I-1 a good try. Lumie is not used to the hauling in the day of the show business and was unsurprisingly distracted and quite tense. He sometimes goes into "hot" harness mode when in new environments and can become a bit difficult to ride(not going to buck you off, but just not overly attentive). While the rideability we have been producing did not really show up we did make it through our first outing at the new level for a 63.38% under a FEI judge. Both pirouettes were not the way we have been producing them over the past few weeks and really dragged our score down and he got smart on me in the 3s and popped some 2s instead. Kick the rider for not better preparing. He is not even 9 yet and while I have continually heightened both my expectation on him and me, I know where we can improve and see some of the progress we have already made. We do the rated White Fences next week and are now a bit smarter in how to prepare then we were just a few days ago so I would say the outing was a success.
Monty also had a lesson; this time he was much improved in his spookiness and distraction. He did struggle a bit with ulcers when we got down here and became uncharacteristically spooky and overreactive, but I put both boys on soaked alfalfa cubes and Purina Outlast and it seems to really have helped them. His contact is still up and down throughout the work, but we are slowly helping him find his place and balance which is helping his contact. The trot work is really coming along overall, but his canter is quite large and a bit "behind" for his age. He has proven to be a bit "sassy" after a day off and has certainly kept me on my toes. I can already feel the improvement in the canter and if I keep his attention he learns remarkably quickly. He is making big improvements, but they are slow and gradual.
The boys of course have been getting the best of treatments between PEMF, Chiro, saddle fitting, etc. Its amazing the difference a well fit saddle makes-- I was lucky enough to have Debby Witty, owner of Trilogy Performance Saddlery, come work on Lumie's saddle last week. Thus far I am really pleased with the difference I am feeling and am glad to have a wonderful group helping me ride better and keep my horses happy.
More soon-- hopefully I will update more frequently; the last week has been so busy.