Hi all. Things have been going pretty good lately. I've been riding Possum on a consistent basis of about 3 days a week. We have almost no snow left up here in Maine which is just crazy, and the temps have been in the 40's!! It's like a heat wave for the end of February and the beginning of March so far. But this also means long periods of cooling out due to the horses sweating in the warmer air in their winter coats. I opted not to trace clip Possum this year because I didn't want to play the whole blanket guessing game,with a different blanket for different temps and also wanted to save a little money. But I've been second guessing that decision as I'm sitting in the barn for over 2 hrs after a ride to wait for him to dry off to throw him back out. Welcome to the early days of spring, but I'm not complaining.
Mine and Possum's progress has taken a slight step back. It's not horrible or anything, but had a pretty yucky ride the other afternoon when I set a jump to about 3'3" and he raced towards it with the speed and determination of a freight train. Every time we got to about 4 strides away he would throw his head up to avoid contact and hollow out his back and race pell mell towards the large vertical. He would clear it with no issue, but the fact that he wasn't listening to my half halts and just charged forward with no resregard for his rider was frustrating to say the least. SO I did what everyone tells you not to do, I halted before the jump. I felt like there was nothing else I could do to get his attention. I needed him to listen to me and I wanted to keep him guessing of what was going to happen next and not just take the reins, literally and charge forward. There is also no chance of Possum refusing, since he basically loves to attack the jumps. After halting a few times, and nearly crashing into it a couple times I felt him start to lighten and listen. So then I gulped back my fear and decided to trot the 3'3" vertical. If there's one thing I hate doing it's trotting large fences. I have a terrible time with my take off and timing with trotting fences and so doesn't my horse so it makes for an interestering round. But Possum was good and trotted right to the base of it and then pushed off nice and even and hopped right over the jump with snappy knees and a rounded back over the crest. But once again we would have a nice and even light canter coming to the jump where he was on the aids and rounding and light as a feather, and then he would get the jump locked in his sights and just charge forward. I decided the best I could hope for was a mediocre jump. So after a few more times we finally got one that was almost in stride so I decided to call it a day. He was razor sharp and keyed up and we were both sweating and wide eyed. I figured that was the best we could get for the day and resume later on in the week. So this weekend I want to go back to that 3'3" vertical with the long approach and take it in stride, we'll see what happens.
However, Possum is getting really fit, with only 3 rides a week. His topline is nice a strong and he's moving with more quality to his gaits (as best as can be expected for this appy). We've been working a lot on flat work, striding, lengthening, shortening, becoming sharper and more responsive to the aids and especially downward transitions. Possum loves to dump on his front end and lean his whole weight on my hands, and I have somehow been sucked into this little game without knowing it. So my job on the downwardsm especially canter walk or halts is to keep a strong core, chin up, elbows bent but keep contact with my legs and just pulse the reins so as not to give him something to brace against. It's really hard because he is built downhill to keep him lifted through the front and rocking back onto his hind end. It actually takes a lot of leg in the downwards to keep that motor going in his butt but only in reverse and not become stiff legged through the transitions. As always it's a work in progress, but it's coming along.
Now onto the guy side of thing :) Alaska is not going to happen right off. Because Steve and I hemmed and hawed our way through February he is not busy with Iditarod, Ulstraport and and Iron Dog through the middle of March, and the end of March is far too busy for me with work right now, so I'm thinking maybe April will be the next chance I get to go out there. I'm not really holding my breath or anything, but it still would be nice to take a vacation to such a beautiful state and meet a really great guy. Stay tuned.
Well I think that's about all that is going on lately. Just lots of work, and riding Possum and wishing I was in Alaska ;) Like I said the weather is getting nice and inviting and I want to spend as much time outside as I can.
On a side note, I realize that the picture that I posted above again has me helmetless. Again, I will say that I am an adult and make my own decisions and am fully aware of the risks of riding horses. So please refrain from commenting on that subject if you can. I posted it because I like how I'm getting stronger and my position is pretty good here. I realize it looks like I'm jumping slightly ahead, but it's also a weird spot in the jump, he is still on his way up so therefore it was right before I fold my hips at the apex of the arc. Anyways, I thought it was pretty good.