Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day One: Adult Camp Comrade

Saturday Comrade and I went to Adult Camp at Sprieser Sporthorse and melted. Seriously, it was crazy hot after the cooler temperatures we have had recently. But through the sweat and red faces, we had a great couple of lessons.

"Uh, how can I break out if I can't reach the clip?"

The first was with Natasha and Comrade really impressed me. All photos are from the second lesson because Mom and Peggy were too engrossed to remember to take pictures. He was willing to work from the beginning. I told her he was out of shape and his issues with his canter departs. She wanted me to work on getting him working from behind by pushing him with my legs forward into the outside rein. Comrade does not want to carry his back and activate his hind legs. Just behind the saddle he has that weak spot which gives him away. I needed to put my shoulders back and ride his butt. Plus lengthen my leg and put my calf on him fully.

At first, I really felt like I was carrying him. Then as he started to lift his back, bend through his body and stretch his neck, he began to carry himself for periods of time. His trot felt amazing and full bodied. If that makes any sense.

We also worked on his downward transition to walk. This too has been a tough one for Comrade. He was western broke and did the sudden, immediate stop when I first started working with him. We have worked that out of him, but he still hollows his back as soon as I ask for walk. So she had me slowly ask for the transition, while wiggling my ring fingers to try and keep him softer. Over the course of the lesson they improved, but definitely need more work.

Finally we attempted canter. I opted to work the right lead first while he had some energy left. It was not a total train wreck, but it took some time to set him up. Comrade was getting sucked into the wall and I was not quick enough to catch it. We had to come to an inside track and try again. Once we managed to get the right lead, she wanted us to do a smaller circle to get him to step under. He still inverted, but that will come. Left lead was better. We worked the transitions for a bit before moving on. She ended the ride with having us ride a big three loop serpentine both directions. That trot was so cool and he was carrying himself for about 75% of it.
Natasha was glad I came back and thought she would see Roscoe again, but was thrilled with Comrade. Comrade was happy with all the people he got to show off for since some of the other riders came and watched. Both of us were dripping in sweat, but what a rush to finish the best ride we have had in seven years.

After lunch and a break, it was time for cavaletti with Lisa. We were paired with the WelshX paint that came the last time. His owner is working toward Second Level this year and he is a cute guy. I had no idea what kind of energy Comrade had left. The heat was taking a toll on me, but we pushed on.

We started out over a fan of poles. Comrade had his moment of "why are there lines on them" and kept going. At first we kept to the inside with the shorter distances. He wanted to pop up a bit and pull through inside of sit and push. A reminder from me helped him start to adjust. As we added the partially raised poles along the perimeter, he tried to be a bit daisy cutter. Lisa wanted him to bend his hocks. Before the poles she had be tap him with the whip to activate his hind end. If I felt him suck back in the poles, I was to tap him. They are great about asking and then letting them be.

Comrade wanted to be lazy, but did not get upset when I said to move on. His work ethic was superb. We ended doing a big figure eight: over the fan, long side poles, middle poles to end poles and reverse.

I had some rider errors that Comrade sucked up well. He felt great and Mom said he was showing great step under. Lisa gave him the love and props he enjoys at the end. She took a picture at some point and sent it to her Mom saying that this was the dream pony of her youth. Comrade gathers fans anywhere he goes. Such a good Cob ambassador.
I was excited to see what our next lesson would bring. Comrade was giving me so much more than I ever expected. He got another shower and a roll in the sawdust afterwards.

"Where is the sawdust?"

"More please, keep going"

Though he complained more than Roscoe about the lack of sawdust. Mom took pity on him and moved some more down. We left him with his hay net and his dinner. His neighbor was a cute Connemara. I guess he was on the pony side of the barn :)