Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

As the indoor season rolls by, we've spent a lot more time working in the ring. This is like putting my mare under a magnifying glass. People see her more and more people are interacting with her. In an effort to keep her busy, she's picked up a teenager of her own (a working student) that lessons on her, along with filling in when the more advanced riders need a horse for a lesson.

On the flat she's a dream. All of this time being watched has made it easier for my trainer to pinpoint our roadblocks in dressage and we've made major progress over the last month. She now looks like the first level horse she was supposed to be last month. Her back lifts, her stride lengthens, and she doesn't pull your arms out of their sockets. Getting her there isn't easy, but once you've got her? Butter. It's amazing. Almost any teenager or adult is happy to ride her in a flat lesson. She's super sweet, tries hard, and can be very fancy.

Over fences? I call that her Mr. Hyde personality. She'll be standing in the middle of the ring, quiet as a lamb and dozing. I wake her up and get her moving. As soon as she realizes we're jumping, a transformation takes place. She picks her head up, the motor engages, and she slams against my hands. Game. On. It's nothing compared to last year, we're doing courses at about 2'6" including gymnastics without batting an eyelash, but she's still an intense ride.

As soon as the course is done? Back to Dr. Jekyll, snoozing in the middle of the arena or watching the other horses going. On the flat, I'd trust her with almost anyone. She trots and canters around on the buckle with a relaxed headset that would make a hunter trainer drool. I had a clinic with Ashley McVaughn last weekend and Fiona was a bit of a mystery to her. I warned her at the beginning that she can be quite explosive, then warmed her up on the buckle. After the third cross rail, the princess woke up and her whole other personality emerged. Ashley was worried that she was psyched due to noise or cold. I laughed and said she was actually being really good.

And then Fiona dozed off in the middle of the ring and had to be poked awake to take her next turn.

The princess is an odd, odd pony.

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