I have no media from my ride (thank goodness), so have some random pictures instead. This is the last thing a blade of grass sees before it gets eaten.
I started doing my new groundwork warmup, and Taran was good. I hopped on, did some walk on a long rein, picked up the contact, and trotted off. Taran was steady, round, and I worked on a keeping a slow, steady trot tempo that was ground-covering. We did a few 20 meter circles and he was super.
Someone makes an excellent riding mower. Emphasis on the mower part.
And if I had wanted to ride a Training Level test, we would have been golden. But I don't. I'm riding 1-2 and 1-3 now, and 20 meter relaxed circles don't cut it any more. So I asked for a little more bend, a little more push, a little more connection. I got stiff in my arms and more demanding. My poor trainer tried to give us a new exercise that she'd worked on that day with HER trainer, but my brain couldn't cope with a new exercise because I NEEDED TO BE WORKING ON MY TESTS, DAMMIT. And we weren't doing that. And did I mention that we have a show this weekend?
Golden boy in the sunlight.
We tried cantering, but Taran was just stuck because I wasn't following. He broke twice (which is never a problem) because I was holding so hard. I stopped, gave him a long rein. Walked around the arena. Apologized to my trainer for being a beotch (because I hadn't been listening to her well at all), and asked if we could start all over. I said that I wanted to work on trot lengthenings and leg yield zigzags, if we could please.
The reset was a good thing. I managed to get my head out of my a$$, relax some, and make the movements better. The leg yield zig-zag in 1-3 is still hit or miss because I need to a) go with the flow, b) let Taran crossover more, and c) ride it about 100000 more times... but we'll do what we can for Saturday and that will have to be enough. The lengthenings were super good, and we practiced setting him up in the corner better and riding it alllll the way across, and not letting him quit. We ended on a good note, although I apologized several times to my trainer and thanked her for putting up with me.
Weirdo dog loves sugar snap peas.
I spent most of a sleepless night wondering what happened. How can I have such fantastic rides and then ride like such crap? Obviously I'm putting stress on myself (and poor Taran, who just wants cookies) because of the show. But I've also come to expect an A+++++ ride, so a D- ride feels like a huge personal failure.
After a night of reflection, I think it all comes to the fact that I skimped on warmup for the amount and type of work I wanted to do. In the Alfredo clinics, we easily spent 10-15 minutes on ground work before getting on. Once on, there was a big focus on moving his haunches. The combination of these exercises ensured that he was very active and carrying behind, and "hot" off my leg. I spent about one minute doing groundwork last night, and I wasn't very demanding. When I got on, I didn't ask him to move his haunches at all (unless you count asking him to bend, which he was decidedly not interested in doing) until over halfway through the ride when we started working on the leg yield - and that movement was pretty awful, because his haunches weren't engaged. I mentioned to my trainer multiple times that Taran didn't feel like he was really engaged behind, like he was behind my leg, and ignoring me - and I think that's why. I simply didn't warm him up in such a way that set him up for success like I have been for the last week, and it really showed throughout our entire ride.
I'm lucky that I have such a nice trainer. I'm lucky that Taran is a kind guy and doesn't get flustered when I ride like a jerk. I'm lucky that my husband puts up with me and feeds me cider and Brie. And I'm lucky that even though I put in a bad ride, I know that we have the pieces to do the tests, even if they're not fantastic. And I'm SUPER lucky that it's only Wednesday, so perhaps I can redeem myself with Taran (I'm hoping that half a bag of Ms. Pastures helped) and I can maybe ride a little better come Saturday.
Luckily Taran is a forgiving guy.