Today I experienced the best lope that Grace has to offer so far and it happened in the show pen! I could not more pleased with the mare right now. I know the lope I had today was an accumulation of all of the work we’ve done over the last year. Then there were the lead changes that I can only describe as mind blowing. I smile every time I think of them and how amazing they felt underneath me. I am once again in awe of the quality of horse I had in my back yard for all these years. She is just now at 15 starting to tap into her potential. Someone made a comment to me today about her being a push button horse. That might just be the greatest compliment Grace has ever received as we know she is anything but push button.
The numbers were small at the schooling show today. The 4-H kids are off at state fair and I think other families are done for the season. I like this show series, they offer a good selection of classes at different levels including trail, advanced stock seat equitation and a pattern class. Grace was great in trail; I was thrilled with her lope transitions and lope overs. She just stepped into the lope, and hit her lope overs in stride never making a big deal out of them. It was during one of our rail classes that I realized the nice lope was there to stay. It was great during the warm up, but I didn’t expect in the class. Again she just stepped right into it, no head toss, swish of the tail or squeal. I was able to ride her on a loose rein while she kept the same rhythm all around the arena, both directions. It was just a lovely ride! Throughout our classes the lope was asked for out of the walk, jog and halt, every time it was there; just stepped right into it. Where has that been?
The lead changes came in both the pattern class and the advanced stock seat class. After a counter lope the judge asked for a lead change, ok it was a simple and we did a flying I’ll take the heat for that one. After that flying change the judge asked for an actual flying change on the long side of the arena. I set Grace up like I had with Sarah out in the field as if we were doing a line change; I half passed her a step to the left, created a wall with the rain and asked with my seat. The change was so nice the people in the crowed started hooting; we got to do another one for them which was just as nice. Grace’s pace never changed, not after the change, not during, not when the little kid came running down the hill next to the arena. It was a nice ride!
The one thing I focused on at the show today was to “keep the bones moving” just like Peggy said. I felt the change in my seat she had talked about the first time I walked through the in gate, it was me not the horse that was initiating the tension! I adjusted my seat many times in each class kept my thigh bones moving and at times rotated my torso. Not enough that anyone could really see it, but enough to keep the lines of communication open with my horse. I need to work on getting some updated video of our rides. I would love to compare it to where we were a year ago. It feels like I am sitting on a different horse, maybe one that might get accused of being push button!