Mmm, today was a long yet satisfying day of work. It was Alice's turn to help Rodrigo with the young horses, so Martin and I partnered up to get the horses ridden. The horses who competed yesterday had the day off, so that lightened the load! I started off having a jumping lesson on Boss, who is just so cute. He felt a little tired after the long week but jumped really well-- he's a bold little bugger! I discovered that I really need to work on completing my turns... as in, riding through the turn and not cutting off my approach prematurely. When I managed this, he jumped really well; when I didn't, he tended to drift right. All in all though he jumped very well.
Next I quickly warmed up Uxmal for Martin, who then schooled him over fences while I got on Geologo. Geologo is a stallion who competed in the 1.30m jumpers and is just getting back into work following an injury. Martin got me really moving him out and coming back in equal measure so that I could start to feel the power he has. We cantered up a line of poles in seven strides, again working on straightness and directness, and then Martin had me jump a vertical off either lead, one with a tight approach and the other with a more gradual approach, so that I could feel how the quality of my turn affected my distance at the fence. On one approach, we got a long but powerful distance and Martin laughed and said, "You see? Your mind may have been saying 'Uhhh I don't know' to that distance, but your body was saying it was all right, and Geologo listens to your body." I really need to work on the body/mind disconnect. That's one thing that I'm finding very philosophical about riding. I can be thinking whatever I want: this horse is too fast, I won't find my distance, I'm nervous that people are watching, I can't do this-- but as long as my body is relaxed, in the middle of the horse with my leg on-- things work out. The trick is to, well, trick your body into not reacting to any wild thoughts or worries!
Next up was Nacar, a three year old stallion who's very cute. We did the same seven stride line of poles that I'd worked on with Geologo, plus a left turn to a five-stride vertical to oxer. Initially I had a lot of trouble keeping balance and rhythm coming out of the turn, resulting in drifting and awkward fences galore. But once I stopped fussing and let myself relax into a wider turn, the jumps came up on their own. Very cool.
After Nacar I warmed up Cor Lit and Twilight so that Martin could school them over fences. They were both excellent. After that I hopped on Holendesa, a big bay mare, and Martin gave me an impromptu lesson on her: how to engage and really harness the incredible power she has, and how with my legs I can create a canter that is more powerful without being in a longer frame. We did a figure eight of sorts over a vertical, and Martin stressed the importance of not interfering with my horse once I came out of the turn, but leading with my leg and letting the fence come. If the power is there on the approach, your horse can take any distance. And if it's not there, it's too late, and chasing them down doesn't help!
Once Martin had schooled Holendesa more seriously over a course, Alice and I hopped on Pastrocito and Herodes for a quick lesson (balancing in the turn over a low vertical) before a client came to try out Luli. Then it was lunch and the afternoon was filled with tack cleaning, horse grooming, and watching Alice work Skyline over a big course with Martin. Oh, and I managed to zap myself with the electric fence yet again. Twice. Or was it three times? I don't know, but I do that I'm pretty dang wary of that thing at this point. It takes me about five minutes to steel up the courage to touch the handle. I'm pretty sure the mares watching me thought I was nuts... but c'est la vie!
Missing home a bit tonight, with my friends' talk of pumpkin spice lattes and schooling shows. Wonder how my boy Haajes is doing in the middle of his three months off. He'll be a little shell shocked when I come home and decide it's time for a training overhaul ;) Also missing my friends and family a lot! But hey, can't complain-- summer is on its way :P