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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Three Great Rides (Official AEC Countdown: ONE WEEK!)

First thing's first. Since she ragged on Gogo's not-ambition to go win next year's International Hunter Derby, I declare today National Embarass Your Best Friend Day! However I shall also post an equally embarassing picture of me to not make her feel so bad. Ha!

Second, you'll have to forgive me for not doing my End of August analysis yet. I have other things to write about first so you'll just have to wait!

These past three days have been fantastic. I've been very productive and busy in terms of getting things together for the trip, and our rides have been equally as good. After two days of good dressage on Sunday and Monday, we headed out Tuesday evening for our 2-hour conditioning hack, the last one before the AECs. I had an absolutely HORRIBLE day at work, and ended up getting on much later than I had originally planned (it was 6pm by the time we left... and it's been getting dark by 7:30!), but a great ride on the Mami was all I needed to feel better. The hayfield had just been mowed (a stroke of good luck!), and after the hack out to it, we started out 25 minute trot. WOW she felt great - 20 minutes into it and she was STILL powertrotting along, so big that I could hardly post to it, and still breaking to the canter pretty much every time we rounded a corner of the field. So I said, what the hell, let's burn off a little energy, why not? and let her go. And the afterburners kicked in - I've never gone that fast on any horse in my whole life! (And I've had some pretty hair-raising gallop moments in my life - the one that stands out in my head involved crazy New Zealand ponies and crashing at breakneck speed through the wild underbrush... one of those just-hold-on-and-cross-yourself rides!!) The sun was low at that point and I watched her shadow as we flew along, admiring her huge reach and laughing as we left the crappiness of the day in the dust. I brought her back to trot as we rounded the corner of the rectangular field, and let her go as we reached the long side of the field again. And she FLEW again, top speed! We rounded the next corner at the trot and as we came back around to the first long side, she exploded into a full-out sprint with hardly any prompting from me, going even faster than before. We must have galloped at absolute top speed at least 6 times like this around the field, which is pretty huge. I didn't intend for her to work this hard, but we were both having so much fun neither one of us could help ourselves. Finally, I looked at my watch and realized it was high time to continue on with our walk work, and brought her back. She came right back to me, ears pricked, marching right along, happy as a clam, hardly winded and still with a ton of extra energy to spare. Boy she is AWFULLY fit for just Novice! (I fitted her up for Training, anticipating that we'd be running one or two at the end of the year, but July and life got in the way of those plans, so now I have an over-fit Novice horse... oops!) She just felt SO GOOD. We walked up the gravel road for a little while before heading back to the pavement, and I was quite delighted to feel that, despite the fact that she's hardly been on gravel anywhere at all this year, she was quite comfortable on it. When it was very wet earlier in the year and she was on a different ration balancer, she was slow and overly-cautious when walking on rocks, and I avoided the gravel road. Now that her feet have dried out and toughened up, and given the fact that she has amazingly dropped almost an entierly new foot in three months (not kidding.... I can't even BELIEVE how fast she puts out hoof, it's kind of scary! And hair too for that matter... her bridlepath, clipped just two weeks ago for Huntington, is already nearly 2/3 of an inch long.), she is quite comfortable again. I know everyone has been having hoof trouble with this wetness all year, so I'm glad to see that my own small version of it is under control. Anyway, so we ventured back onto the pavement and continued our walk hack for our remaining time, enjoying the gorgeous sunset and contemplating returning as it steadily got darker. Determined to not cut our time short despite the rapidly dissapearing daylight, I headed back to the orchard to finish our walk, where we were treated to a nearly full moon and a subsequent moonlight walk. Fabulous, and beautiful. She was bright and chipper when I finally dismounted at the two-hour mark, still with plenty of gas in the tank. I kept her legs unwrapped given the creeping crud still stubbornly hanging on to her front legs, and checked them first thing in the morning the next day - if by some horrible off chance there WAS an S-word problem there despite all the signs pointing to otherwise, it SURELY would have presented itself after such a hard ride. But, success! Her legs were tight and cool as always, and she jogged out perfectly sound on the way to turnout. Sweet! All systems go!

Yesterday and today, her cheerful, overly-fit self was raring to go for some dressage.... or well, I was and she, after some convincing, agreed with me. She was, at first, being very subtly stubborn (If I stretch out to your contact, I will disengage my hind end. Oh you want me to go forward instead of disengage my hind end? Then I will, but I will disengage from this contact. Back and forth.), but eventually she settled, and we had a very good workout, complete with some fantastic counter-canter. Today's work was equally as excellent, and she had some OUTSTANDING trotwork in the end, and some absolutely fabulous walk-canters, which I haven't schooled that much as of late. Mostly we worked on LEFT BEND, which she has an aversion to, and once I finally broke up the locked tension in the midsection of her neck and connected her a little more thoroughly (you can see it visually, the area in her neck she most obviously resists the bend... it feels a little like when you need to take a frozen solid ice pack out of the freezer and massage it with your hands for awhile to make it flexible), suddenly whoa! Her shoulders came up, her work became way straighter and she developed some serious push from behind. Sweet! The work was high quality, all of it, and she worked very hard. Dare I say we had moments of real collection? I do dare day it. I'm not about to go run out and try a Second Level test anytime soon, but on days like this, I feel like we're approaching it, maybe even next spring.

Tomorrow, we gallop, and after Tuesday's hack I am VERY excited to get out there and boogie our guts out!

The AECs are now officially one week away. Can you believe it? I can hardly even wrap my head around it. I was going back and rereading posts from these past nine months since I moved to Connecticut tonight, laughing at all our ups, bemoaning all our downs, and realizing just how far we've come. We've worked so hard for this, put in our all, struggled through all the challenges thrown at us, and come out on top every time. We have fought hard for this, and we're ready. The pre-show jitters are starting to set in... ahh!! We leave in five days!!

(2008 AEC Picture of the Day: After some SERIOUS flooding, I try and swim my way to the Bit of Britain tent, because I inconveniently forgot to pack my canoe.)


Anonymous said...

Fabulous! Love the photos, though my mates better not get wind of The Day, otherwise there will be tears. MY tears. They have some truly hideous photos of me...

New reader to your blog. I own a barefoot Appy mare, and we are just turning hoof and hand to dressage. When I say dressage, I mean we trot in a rectangle for about five minutes before getting bored...

Ambivalent Academic said...

Woohoo! Yay for nice rides!

Dressager said...

Nice pictures. Wish I had my canoe today. Instead I had my leather boots that I got all pretty the night before lol!

Sam said...

Oh, it's always such a great feeling when rides go well :D

They posted ride times for AECs! My trainer, who's competing in your division, does XC 20 minutes before you, so hopefully I'll be able to stay and watch GoGo... well, go!

Good luck!

Nicole Redman said...

HA! Your picture is SO MUCH MORE embarrassing than mine! I win!