I’m probably being completely irrational because we’re coming upon the show, but I seriously feel like I have lost all ability to ride and Murray has lost all ability to horse and everything next week is going to be an unmitigated disaster. This is probably not true but… the nerves man. They are getting to me.
Of course my feelings are the purple feeling.
Tonight I hopped on in my jump tack with the intention to trot a little, condition a little, jump a little, and flat a little. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I somehow don’t think that Murray should have to do a 20 minute trot set and 7 minute canter sets on the same day. Plus, pony is much more receptive to cantering around in circles lengthening and coming back and lengthening and coming back and lengthening and coming back when I throw a few small jump in here and there. So that is what we did.
I started out with some dressage in my jump tack. I didn’t even put my stirrups down from jumping length, just… made do. Oh and you should all know that a couple of dressage rides are just what the doctor ordered for calf muscles screaming from three hours of drunken wedding dancing. I’m feeling top notch today. I asked Murray to shoulder in and haunches in at the walk, and actually made a point of doing it with both bends in both directions. He’s happy to keep quite a nice, deep neck bending left, but bending right I can really feel his hesitation when he has to step under with that right hind. He gets better and better the more I ask, but I’m not sure if the solution to this is more shoulder in/haunches in or more stretching. Equine Fitness said that too much repetition can just lead to soreness and guarding, but homie is never going to strengthen that leg if we don’t do reps of SOME kind. Equine biomechanics gods, GIVE ME AN ANSWER.
At the trot I did more lateral work as well as trying to get Murray really straight between my legs. These things might be counter-productive as exercises together, I’m not sure, but I’d do a bit of shoulder in, a bit of straight, a bit of haunches in, etc. The straightness and listening were also because we’ve started to drift in and cut corners a lot in the arena, and I am not actually a fan of that.
Murray was more forward and happy to canter than I’ve ever seen him be in a conditioning set, but it was probably greatly helped by the presence of another horse cantering around the arena that made Murray think he was racing. I actually got a hand-gallop out of him in the arena, which I’ve never done before. I just worked on keeping my position really solid, with a good two-point or half seat and a straight, flat back (instead of the arched one I seemed to prefer a few weeks ago), and bringing Murray back to me without leaning on my hands. I realised, when reviewing XC footage from our last outing, that I rely really heavily on my hands on XC and I am pretty much always grabbing mane. So for one, I have a grab strap to help with that. And for two… maybe less hands and more seat, Nicole? We’ll see how that works out for us.
At the end of my ride I had a friend get on Murray for fun, as she’s never ridden him. I was surprised by how good he looked, and how good he was. In fact, I was very impressed. It also helped me reflect upon my own riding a bit. The first thing I tell people when they get on Murray is to be really soft with their hands and let him get used to their presence, and with said friend on his back Murray was suuuuper steady. If I can get that steadiness at a show I will be thrilled. So there will definitely be some over-riding questions and evaluation coming in the next few days! We will see.