I was a little bit sad to be going without Fleck, but honestly, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Danny and I had a lot of fun and enjoyed ourselves. He's FUN! And the prelim group has outgrown us. There was no way that Fleck and I would have been comfortable doing what they did. And it wouldn't have been fair to him. I mean, maybe if he was feeling awesome and going well, but... I think I would have been feeling frustrated that we couldn't keep up with the others. So... God's so wise. He knows exactly what we need when we need it. And really, it wasn't a big deal. I missed Fleck and I missed having him around, but Danny and I had a blast. :)
We got there Friday with enough time to let him settle and relax in the paddock while I watched a group or two go. Friday was grid day as prep. I wasn't sure how Dan would be so I got on a bit early to give him time to do his baby thing if needed. He was actually pretty darn good. He's such a cocky little guy sometimes though. He cracks me up. We were fine warming up by ourselves and fine with one or two others. Then once there was a crowd, the shenanigans appeared. ;) They weren't bad though. We went through the poles a few times. Beth had them placed in a zig zag and we were working on straightness. Apparently we drift right, although I sometimes wonder if it's just that my perception of center is that bad. So we just aimed to the left of what I thought was center and then we were straight. :) After a few rounds through it was raised to a cross rail and that was boring. So as we were headed around a shoulder and foreleg suddenly came flying up. :) hee hee. Okay, not too shabby. He settled back in and went through again. As we looped around for the next pass, Morgan started the generator. It wasn't that loud or that sudden. But it was a great excuse! Dan leapt into the air and did some sort of acrobatics that got me unseated and out of balance for a split second but only a split second. Then I was able to get my balance back and ride out the other 10 seconds of antics. We landed and carried on and trotted straight through that grid. :) Beth laughed at me and said she had no idea how I stayed on sometimes. I really do think the County Conquest tractor beams me back in sometimes. :)
We continued on without any further antics and the grid progressed. Eventually we had the zig zag poles to 3 small verticals as bounces. The trick was to keep Dan straight, animated enough going in that he wasn't having to reach, but not too animated. We also worked on me and keeping my elbows in and my hands a bit wider. It was actually pretty helpful but it took me til the final two passes to actually get it like Beth wanted.
Dan ended up getting turned out with Tess that night and she was in heat. It was a bit of a flirting/squealing/love fest at first but they settled. And then it started pouring and there was a massive lightning storm! It was actually a LOT scary as there was a ton of lightning. Most of it seemed to be heat lightning up in the sky but there was a few bolts. There wasn't much I could do as there wasn't any open stalls left and unless I wanted to cross tie him all night or hold him all night.... I just prayed and prayed. And he did fine. But man... scary! Beautiful, but scary.
We rode at 5 Saturday so he spent the day in the pasture with Tess, alone, and then with Rico and Rico and Mighty. They all actually got along pretty well. So yay, now I know! Danny mostly just politely followed them around but wasn't too much of a pest. It was hot but luckily there was a bit of a breeze and clouds so he wasn't too sweaty before we started.
We started in the middle field by the ditches and Danny actually warmed up quite lazy. I even put on spurs and I had accidentally grabbed the big spurs! But he was great and after a few minutes of reminding him about being in front of my leg, we were golden. He really didn't put a foot wrong. I was quite proud of him! He seemed to be learning and getting his job. We jumped the ditch and the coffin. Then we did some of the hanging logs and even some fairly larger logs. :) Fun! Then we moved to the banks area. He was the first one up the bank and he stopped and balked a bit. I think it was more over stimulation than the actual bank itself. It had two big white barrels standing on each end and there was all the other fun stuff to look at. He didn't need a lead, just a minute or two to look, and then up he went. And after that there was no issues. He went up and down and up and down and then at the trot and even the canter. We did a little mini course up in the bank area and jumped over some fences and went up and down the bank again. Then we headed to the little water and again, Dan didn't really want to be the first one in but he required even less encouragement to go in this time. And again, once in, he was happy to then play and go in from that point on. We jumped a few more fences and went in and out of the water. So much fun!!! After that we called it a day. They had done quite a bit and we still had tomorrow to play.
Oh, we also did the canter bounces. Hee hee. I trotted Dan towards them and about 1 stride out he went "Wait... what/!?!?!" hee hee. He slowed to the walk and we fumbled through them. But on the second attempt he figured them out. Hee hee.
Sunday was as hot and as much fun. Maybe more fun! We started in field by the water. Beth had us jump over a few coops and cabins to warm up and Danny was having fun. I didn't have to wake him up but he also wasn't stupid or overly rowdy. :) He was so well behaved and still fun!After the warm up around the water we headed to the ditch. It was a very shallow ditch, but on the edge of the woods and fairly wide. Beth was going to have us skip it but I told her we had done most of the ditches at Ashland, so we went for it. She had us trot it first and I decided to trot him up and see what he did rather than let him look first. He trotted up and stopped and stared. It took a minute to get him to chill and then go over it but that's all it took. Then we came back around and he stopped short but leapt, so technically not a full stop. Then after that he was fine. We came the other direction and he didn't stop but really drifted right and almost out of it's path. But once I closed my leg and opened my left rein, he stayed straight. So yay! Then we did the whole coffin.
The next stop was the cloverleaf. It was the black pipes hanging over the ground, over a fake ditch, and then one with a groundline. They were little but looky. I decided to be nice and let him have a look even though he didn't spook at the one in the other field. These were a bit lookier though. He walked up and sort of worried a tiny bit but sniffed all three quickly. Then we headed through and he jumped all three of them great! I was so proud. :) I thought for sure he'd spook at them. We also went up the bank and down the bank next to the ditch and walls.
Then we headed to the water. We did the log in and the log out, which I thought was pretty good for baby horse! Then we did the bank up and the bank down. We stuttered a tiny bit on the bank down but not too bad. So then Beth got that look in her eye and asked if I wanted to do the roll top in the water. Um... Yes please!!!! Although I wasn't entirely sure that it was a fair thing to ask of the baby horse, but.... he seemed game so far and it wasn't bit. We came at it from the side closest to the water so he didn't have to lose so much energy in the water first. The first time through we came at it and sailed over! I was so excited and so proud. Turns out, we had to do it again. And again. And again. ;) Beth said that I came in too long and flat and he didn't have the choice of refusing because gravity carried him over. Well.... fine.... I'm sure she was right, but it felt good. :) So we fixed it. And we had fun doing it. :) Sooooo excited about how game he was and how rideable he was. :)
It was a great weekend because for the first time it felt like baby horse went from just cocky and then scaring himself to realizing his job and being confident instead of cocky. SO MUCH FUN!!!! He grew up an awful lot this weekend too. It was his first time being away from home overnight without Fleck (I think!) and his first time staying in a pasture with other friends. His first time doing a lot of XC questions. :) What a rockstar!!!
Danny over the "bigger" stuff!
Cantering through the water and up and out
Jumping the Jumps