We're still going, and now the dailines of it is becoming habit, which was probably the point all along. Some days its easy to get there, some days its hard to get there. Janet suggested I just forget the days I was away and pick up where we left off. That puts us at Day 27 today.
Hilke came out again on Day 23 while I was riding in the western arena and warming up to work on the right lead. I didn't see her at first and started working at the far end, then I heard her shouting tips & encouragement and moved closer to hear her. I felt like I had the tools at that point - I had my outside rein as support, the inside rein just tipped her nose on a bit. I was pushing from the inside leg to the outside rein to help get her shoulder out of the way, and she had her haunches in just a little. Still, every time I cued we picked up the left lead. Hilke wouldn't let us stop and she started calling out whenever the outside hind went forward, "Now! Now! Now!"
I don't know how long we worked in that circle but eventually Hilke had me move slightly to circle a jump and pole that had been placed on the east end of the arena and told me my goal was going to be to ask for the lope right as she was moving over the pole. So around and around we went, taking up the wrong lead each time. Frankly, I was wearing out! It was exhausting!
Then, we came around and I gave her a much more punctuated and assertive squeeze as we came up to the pole and we got it - we were off on the right lead. We circled and then we went down the rail, nice and easy. As we came back around, Hilke had me slow her back to a trot and we did it again. Then I was able to come back, slow her to a walk, and she was trembling (like me) with fatigue. What a feeling of success, though, which trumpeted the fatigue.
I walked her out nice and mellow, then she got a rinse-down since she was dripping with sweat. And finally, a nice grassy dinner. It was a fabulous ride.
Day 24 was a short trail ride since I was pressed for time, and Day 25 we went back into the arena. I asked for a lot of other warm-up activities just to break up any routine that was forming, and then we returned to the same jump-pole set up. I had been learning to feel when her outside hind was moving forward and knew that was the time to ask for the transition. About the third or fourth try we got the right lead, nice and easy, no stress, and were off on a lope. I think we did it once more and then we just did some other stuff, including a lope on the left, so that this could start to become just one of the things we do, no the one thing that we do.
Day 26 I almost missed and I got to the barn really late after a very full day in Mammoth. The horses had already been fed and I didn't have the heart to pull her away from dinner. So Vida and I crashed the wind-down of Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Carrie; who we're enjoying shots of fireball & getting ready to clip some mules. It was fun to just hang out with them - it's something I don't do enough of. There's a whole lot of friendship to be had around there, but I've mostly just arrived, rode, and left. It'd be nice to know these women better.
This morning I'm off to the Choo Choo Swap Meet, then to ride early. I have a ton of things to do at the house and for my class, so the plan is to return and get after it by early afternoon. There's a dressage clinic happening, and if I get a chance to watch Rebecca and/or Janet ride I will. But I've got to get back up here and get some stuff done around the house. You'd think this place would already be sparkling with JC and Cooper gone, but the days have been slipping away so quickly.