New projects and a Poplar Place recap

I guess it’s about time I played catch-up, since it’s been nearly a week post-Poplar Place. I’ve been a little lackadaisical about darn near everything this week, and it’s all just sort of piled up. But, it’s not without reason! For starters, we got a new horse this week. Yep, just like that. I hadn’t really planned on taking on a new project, but a girl at the barn had a sweet little mare she was looking to re-home, and I’ve been toying with the idea of procuring a lesson horse, so…you know how this story goes. Sweet little Cayenne does not live up to her fiery barn name. She is quiet, laid-back, and would prefer to while away her days continually stuffing her face full of anything edible. She is also the easiest horse I have ever trained. She doesn’t know much–she’s one of those typical back yard ponies that someone taught just enough to go forward and stop, but she catches on quickly and wants so very badly to make you happy. She will be a fantastic lesson horse after a month or two of training.
Meanwhile, after this weekend’s performance, Johnny had a few days off to relax, which translated into, “I forgot everything I knew.” The poor guy has reached the point where I expect more from him because he understands what I’m asking. He was not a happy camper today, but we managed to have a nice ride without any major fights, so I’d call it a win.
And, by now, I’m sure you’re wondering: did you win it all this weekend? The answer, dear friends, is an emphatic no. Chalk this one up to the learning curve phenomenon! Actually, we did quite well for the first event of the season, first time out at novice level. What killed us this time was surprisingly stadium. Johnny pulled 3 rails–unheard of for him. Looking back at the pictures, it’s fairly obvious he was tired, and we need to work on verticals with no ground lines. I’ve added two-a-day workouts to my pre-show preparation regime so that he gets used to the routine. After dressage, he assumed he was done for the day. Speaking of dressage, you know the old saying, a picture is worth a 1000 words? Well, seeing the photos of me riding in huntseat form with hands just barely above his withers sent me scrambling for the waterskis today. I’ve been letting him coax me more and more forward as he resists instead of engaging my core and holding it all together. So, there’s an ‘easy’ fix. The other detriment to our success was a rookie mistake: the judge in the ring next to mine rang her bell for the competitor, and I stopped in the middle of a fairly decent left lead canter, assuming my judge had seen something monumentally disastrous within our ride. No, she assured me, she had most definitely not rang her bell, seeing how she had a whistle. Lesson learned. But, as always, cross country failed to disappoint. Johnny bravely faced every challenge I threw at him: from the up-the-bank-gallop over the rolltop to the downhill giant coop. He never batted an eye and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his romp around the course. In fact, we made it look easy once we made it past #6. I still maintain that fence 6 was more of a training level obstacle than a first of the year novice attempt. It went like this: from the water, you galloped up the embankment, had a bounce stride (or, if you had a really small horse, you might’ve gotten a full stride) to a rolltop. We’d never schooled anything like it, but again, Johnny virtually attacked it with all he had.
All in all, we had a fairly successful weekend, finishing 12th out of 19 starters. We’ll take it! We can only go up from here.

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