30 Days to Poplar Place: It’s just about showtime

In about 45 minutes, I will drive out to Poplar Place and walk the cross country course and get a lay of the grounds. What a nice change to be able to hop on over from the house in about a fifteen minute drive instead of packing up and driving four hours. I packed the trailer this morning, and for the first time before a show, I don’t have to clean my tack tonight because I did it yesterday! I do need to put a finishing touch on my boots, but since I keep them fairly clean, it will be a quick job.
Yesterday Johnny and I got some last-minute pointers from the FEI dressage rider at the barn. If somebody had told me, “Join the Army & you’ll get to take riding lessons with all kinds of cool and interesting people,” I would have said they were crazy, but so far, the Army life has opened up the equestrian world in ways I never could have imagined. Anyway, she was quick to notice that Johnny gets ‘kinked’ through the poll because he braces against the contact and had me use counter-flexion to help thwart this. By counter-flexing and flexing him on a circle, I could effectively help him find a ‘happy place’ within the contact. I can see why people might think the old western pleasure see-saw method works: to some extent, it does. You are effectively removing their ability to brace against contact. The difference with see-sawing and flexion, however, is that with the flexion, I am sending him forward into the contact and maintaining contact with both sides–counter-flex, hold it until he comes through, then return to straight or inside flexion. There was no back and forth see-sawing! He was pretty quick to catch on once he realized that if he went through it and into the connection without bracing, it was far more comfortable. And, because he wasn’t kinked through the poll, his breathing was so much better! It was a short lesson, but definitely some tools to put away in my toolbox!
All in all, I feel pretty well prepared for this weekend’s show. I doubt very much we’ll come out with a first place ribbon (after all, there are a few professionals in our class), but I feel confident we’ll reach my goal of knocking 10 points off our final score.
Until next time, GO EVENTING!

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