I rode last night and had another great ride. I got several clean flying changes and stopped because well, the only place to go from there was down. He wasn't quite as brilliant as he was Wednesday night with the relaxation and half pass work, but I'm sure he was a touch sore behind from that brilliance and well, two days of it sounds rather exhausting. He has today off, he earned it.
I'm not sure why things have gotten so much better, and so quickly.
Is it the softer footing? I've noticed he's a bit better when we're working on nice arena footing rather than our baseball field clay/dirt. Nothing wrong with our field, I like working in it. But I don't know if there's something to working in an arena with a real wall. He respected the dressage chain in our baseball field, but obviously not the way he respects a solid wall.
Is it I'm more relaxed now that I know if something doesn't work out I can come ride the next day, no matter the weather? I pushed myself and Mikey very hard over the summer. We don't have an all weather outdoor, and there's no indoor, so I'm stuck to being able to really work on things when the footing suits. I felt a lot of pressure to accomplish a lot in a short time. Mostly from myself, but still.
Is it that Mikey is now getting regular work? He has a schedule of when I'll be out to ride him? Sat and Sun, then Tues, Wed, Thurs? He always thrived on regular work. He's starting to put back just a hint of muscle and topline that I let slip away at the end of summer when I took our workload down a notch in prep for him to relax in prep for the work he is going to do all winter.
Maybe it's a combination of all of the above. Our home barn is quiet, so is this one, with a little construction mixed in.
His new herd is nice and mellow like his old herd. He even has an old playmate from many years ago. His old friend is blind now and doesn't rip-roar across the field like how they used to play, but they still carry on just fine and can be seen grazing together for most of the day. By the way, with yesterday's temperature drop apparently all of the boys were galloping and playing and Mikey found his inner racehorse. Mikey's blind friend apparently would take off galloping, suddenly stop short cause he remembered he's blind, then start spinning in circles bucking and striking out with his front end. He's adjusted very well to being blind.
Anyway, back to my pondering- for as few horses that see almost daily work (3 of the 5 at the barn), I've ridden alone twice in the two weeks I've been boarding there. Both were Sunday mornings. Now, I've ridden alone in the arena more than that, but there's always been someone in the barn working or grooming or cleaning tack or just doing something. I've ridden 10 times, and 80% of the time, if something had happened to me, there would have been someone there to help me immediately. It's nice to know.
I felt so welcomed when I arrived, and it was great. We joked it would be hard for me to leave. Now I'm debating staying. I'll miss my friends, but I have a truck and trailer so I'd just haul back once a month for a weekend of lessons. I averaged two lessons a month this summer, and my trainer didn't make much money off of me because it was such a low average and I worked majority of them off. I'd still go to her Ride-A-Tests. Those are invaluable tools. But I do pretty well (knock on wood) working on my own for a while and then seeing her when I have a problem or when I'd like a tune up. The last couple lessons I didn't really have anything specific in mind that I wanted to work on because nothing had really gone wrong, I just wanted to check in and make sure we were still on the right path. I have a feeling this is the beginning of the end. She hasn't worked much past 3rd level, and she doesn't need to because the 4* eventing test only covers up to 3rd level. She's planning on continuing up the dressage levels after she does Rolex a couple times to better her own resume. She's done the canter pirouettes and is beginning tempi changes with her 3* horse. I enjoy working with her because she has a great eye and is very knowledgeable about all things horsey and has great intuition, is tough, isn't rattled by horsey nonsense (She jumped my horse down his first bank. He launched off it like there was a 4' fence on top and about 10' wide. When he landed he took off bucking and squealing. She giggled and brought him back around.) and believes in her riders and creates independent, thinking riders. I've never seen a barn with more independent riders. Willing to ride alone, working or trail riding, and even the most timid will try to work through problems. Everyone always does well at shows, schooling and recognized, and most are willing to go by themselves as long as they can get the horse there.
I do well having a lesson, then working on things on my own for a while. I've become very independent. I don't like being constantly supervised, it doesn't allow me to play with what I learned and allow me to solve my own problems and come up with new questions I can't answer.
Next year's plan for where Mikey is at now includes excavating the current sloped grass outdoor so they can put in a 20x60m dressage ring with dressage fence, and then a wide courtesy lap path around the outside with regular fencing outside of that (the whole property is fenced, and the the outdoor will share sides with the property line and turnouts, so it needs real fence too). More stalls will be built, and more of her acreage will be fenced for pasture.
I can't really afford to stay, her board is well out of my ability to pay. But we've worked out me working off board, so I wonder if we could continue that. Just wondering what would be best for me and Mikey. I dread the spring rains that will halt my riding, and the summer thunderstorms that also halt my riding. Pressure is back on to accomplish our goals in a short time frame. I don't know. I've always done what I think is best for the horse and myself. Ever since I woke up one day while I was still boarding at the barn I bought Mikey from and realized I was not an independent rider. I relied on my instructor for all decisions and all confidence in myself. I wasn't thinking for myself.
Just some thoughts. Only time will tell if we go back home, or make a new home for ourselves.