Ending the trip to sunny Aiken, South Carolina was slightly painful but we arrived home from Aiken LATE on Tuesday March 4th at about 11pm to a dark barn and temperatures in the teens again.
Backing up slightly to pick up where I left off with the last blog...
Wednesday Lucky and I took another dressage lesson, really enjoying a normal horse again. She was really soft and through in her back to start with that day so we really worked on her leg yields and making her really cross over with her hind end to achieve more elasticity in her movement.
Thursday dawned bright and sunny and I was on and ready to ride for my 9:30am jump lesson. I hadn't jumped Lucky in almost a month and a half due to the winter weather at home the last few months, and we haven't jumped anything of substantial height in a couple years due to focusing more on her dressage work, not having an eye on the ground, and protecting her joints. Sally started us off with a grid that was a single fence and eventually build up to four fences, a one-stride to a one-stride to a two-stride. She said we would build as we went and just play it by ear as to how Lucky was jumping and feeling. Starting out little, the grid quickly grew and by the end we had the last fence set to around 3'3 and Lucky was jumping amazingly! We did a few mini courses and single fences to finish and then called it a day to not overdo her too much. I was on cloud nine that entire rest of the day! It was a fantastic start to a day!
That afternoon we spent at Jumping Branch Farm, a facility with a great cross country course just about 20 minutes away. Sally took a few groups of several students out as well as a horse of her own to school some cross country. The first group was one of Sally's youngsters schooling beginner novice and a couple of her students schooling training level fences. The second group consisted of a few novice level horses that were working on confidence building fences and having a good positive ride!
Friday was the big test to see how Lucky would feel the next day after jumping, she pleasantly surprised me with another great dressage lesson and felt just as sound and supple as before! With a bit more of a tired horse on Friday we focused on a spiraling exercise with her canter to get her to move in and balance, compressing her stride down to a small circle almost 10 meters or less then opening her back up onto a larger circle again.
Saturday we spent the day at the Sporting Days Horse Trials grooming and lending an extra hand to Sally who rode two horses at training level and three at prelim that day! Each horse had to do a dressage test, then a stadium jumping round, followed by a cross country course all in the same day. For a Californian like myself doing all three events in one day is a foreign concept. Usually we have dressage and stadium on one day then cross country the next, or each event on a separate day. I can only imagine how exhausted doing all three in one day on five horses must have been!!! At the end of the day I took Emily out to walk the beginner novice cross country course as if she were to ride it the next day, I showed her how to start reading the different types of fences and what to look for in the terrain. A little bit of an introduction to three-day eventing!
Sunday was the day we had originally planned on leaving to head home, with a potential "massive snow storm" heading right through VA, NC and up into PA we decided to postpone leaving to head home and spend a couple more days in the great weather! We spent the late morning/early afternoon sitting out on cross country at Sporting Days again watching the novice horses run around the course. Later that afternoon Lucky and I had a dressage lesson when Sally returned from the event. We focused on the canter spiraling exercise again and worked on perfecting her medium trot just that much more, ending with some great leg yields and transitions.
Monday was a little on the chilly side, with clouds and some drizzly rain most of the day. We watched Sally school some horses in the morning then spent some time organizing and packing the trailer for the trip home the next day. I got on Lucky for a jump lesson in the afternoon and despite the rain and drizzle she still performed fantastically! We did a lot more course work and only had one "oops" fence. Lucky had landed off of a single and had to take a solid moving eight strides bending line to a significant sized skinny. Well.....she landed the first fence, dropped her head and started slowing way down thinking she was done with the course and wasn't listening to my insisting that she pick her head up and move her feet to the next fence. That skinny popped out of nowhere and thank goodness she still jumped like the pro that she is but it was definitely not the prettiest fence ever! She was very mad at herself after that one and after that each fence she jumped way higher that was actually necessary, but she was listening!
The alarm went off at 4am WAY too early on Tuesday morning, Emily and I packed up the dogs, hooked up the trailer, fed Lucky and after some protesting from Lucky (I'm pretty sure she knew she was heading home for the cold and didn't want to go!) we loaded Lucky up. We ended up picking up my friend, Liz Hart's pony, Kestrel on our way out of town and with Liz following in her truck we began the long journey north. About 13 hours after we left at 6:30am we arrived in Baltimore, MD to drop off Liz and Kestrel. Then another hour and a half later we dropped off Emily in York, Pa and finally another hour after that Lucky, the dogs and I arrived home in Carlisle! Exhausted and cold, I unloaded Lucky in the dark, dropped my trailer in the driveway to unpack in the morning and took off for home...already starting to plan my next southern migration to Aiken for a couple weeks next winter. :)