Now that the Bike MS Atlanta ride is over (and went very well), I'm back to spending more time riding my horses. I like biking, but I don't enjoy it nearly as much as I do riding.
I had very good rides on all three horses on Sunday... lots of flatwork and working on bending for all of them. I continue to be amazed at how well Star is doing. The Adequan really seems to help her a lot. Sparky seems to be in a frame of mind that he wants to continue to get attention, because he's also been REALLY good. Kellie was pretty amazing, as well. I think I've ridden her exactly once since the clinic, so I was very impressed by her willingness to still work over her back, bend, and give to the bridle.
I rode Sparky again on Wednesday evening while Debbie rode Kellie. Sparky behaved himself like a perfect gentleman and was moving off my leg and bending really well, even achieving a bit of haunches-in. He can be a bit tricky, because he does like to get very behind the bit on the flat in everything but his Duo bit. I generally just don't worry about his head/neck... when he's working correctly, they will go where they are supposed to go. At least, that's my current theory. While I was really happy with how well he was bending and moving off my leg, there is still definitely room for improvement. He does also have a pretty strong drift originating in his shoulder; it was most noticeable on Wednesday at the canter... he really likes to pop his shoulder and drift out. Just one more thing to work on, I suppose.
Thinking back to the combined test we did last December, I do see that Sparky's canter has improved a lot. A couple comments from that test included, "Lacks clear bend effort" and "Could be steadier in bridle" - both of which were very true (I'm sure the bells didn't help). Again, while still not perfect, we are starting to attain actual bend in the direction of travel, as well as developing more steadiness in the bridle. The icing on the cake is that we are getting to a point where picking up the right lead is much easier - still not as easy as the left - and we need less counter-bend.
I just found out that the November horse trial I had planned on with Sparky is over $300, so I've now scratched that from the list, as well. It's not so much that I think $300 is too much for a horse show, but it IS a lot compared to the Dixie Cup or the Morgan Grand National for what it is - ESPECIALLY considering that, at this point, even getting around XC without being eliminated is not a sure thing. (Remember the asshole comment?) So the plan is now to continue schooling, hopefully get in some lessons with Susan, maybe with Gigi, go XC schooling, and aim for some schooling CTs/3-Phases this winter. Hopefully by next spring, we'll be ready to make an actual horse trial debut.
And speaking of winter - IEA season is starting soon. I am probably way more excited about this than I have right to be, but it is definitely something I enjoy.
Also speaking of winter, I am back to debating - once again - whether to clip my horses this year. I hate doing it, but they're both already getting hairy... Ideally, I would just start blanketing them to prevent such heavy growth, but it's still too warm. *Sigh* I guess I'll just wait for now and see what the season brings.