Keeping things fresh

At the Philadelphia Art Museum

The last couple of weeks have been a lesson in getting used to the off season. I took Oh So for a couple of jumping lessons and we really went back to basics. The first lesson, we just trotted some gymnastics and single fences. On landing, Lisa had me really bend him and not let him fuss. He’s got to get over that and the winter is the time to do it.

My lesson last week was at Morningside, so we started off with a good gallop around the track. Galloping really is like a high or mental release for him. He’s pulling for about the first half of the track, then he settles in to a good rhythm and when we’re done, he’s happy. Lisa also wanted to test him by having him gallop, then come back into the ring and jump. We didn’t do anything huge. She set some jumps about training height and some as low as 18″. We just cantered around and jumped fences randomly. Her point was to have him be able to come back mentally and physically after galloping (or jumping cross-country) and be able to show jump respectfully. He also needed to be able to adjust his canter to the height of the jumps. He did get a bit strong and pulling, so I had to be sure to not let my hands get set down. When I do that, I start looking for a distance to the smaller jumps.

I’ve also had some pretty fun lessons with Sam the last two weeks. First, Nicky and I tried her double bridle for the first time. We’ve always talked about doing it, so we finally did! We had to rig it up from scratch, but I got a good feel for it and he went very well. We used a curb bit with a low port and short shanks. He actually kept his mouth quieter than he does with a simple noseband and flash. I’m going to buy a bridoon and hanger so I can have my own to practice with.

On Monday, we worked with some poles. First we had him collect, then we went to lengthening over them. He tried really hard, but was a little stiff yesterday as a result. I was planning on trying the exercise with Oh So, but he stepped on the inside of his hind shoe and pulled it up a bit, so we’ll try it on Friday.

Like last year, I want to spend the winter working on my jumping position and working without stirrups on both horses (at least once a week). I better get started on that because I haven’t done it in awhile!

I had a quiet Thanksgiving near Philadelphia with my parents, grandmother, cousins and aunt and uncle. My brother went to Ohio with his girlfriend, and it was the first Thanksgiving he’s ever missed, so it was sort of a bummer. We stopped in Philly on the way back on Friday and went to the art museum and the Penn State Anthropology museum which was fascinating. I love ancient European history and they had some good sections on Rome and Greece. I wish I’d had more time to spend because there was just so much to read. Next trip I suppose!

I also went to see Simple Plan’s “Get Your Heart On!” tour at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Md. on Saturday. I’d never been to the venue before since it’s fairly new. It was really beautiful inside and the show was great. I got some good photos and will be writing up a review that I’ll post on avoidthescene.com this week.

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