“Discretion is the better part of valor!”

It was supposed to rain yesterday and for once I got lucky and it had not rained (yet!) by the time I got home. So I raced out and rode Fling. I am still semi-frustrated by the flying changes, but we definitely have BETTER flying changes WHEN we get them. And, Fling has reached the point where the flying changes are no longer EXCITING and I can school them – and even drill them a bit. Success really depends wholly upon the timing and “conviction” of my aids. I watched a Conrad Schumacher symposium DVD over the weekend, and that is one thing he kept repeating to students who were working on flying changes. I can’t remember his exact phrase, but basically, he was telling them to really MEAN it and EXPECT it when they asked for the change. That is where I err – in ‘muddled’ aids. The good thing, Fling is no longer anticipating – she really DOES wait for me to ask her before doing the flying change. But — it’s all in how I ask her as to whether we get a good one or not. And if I ‘halfheartedly’ ask – or am not clear in the meaning or timing of my aids – nothing happens. The changes I DO get are very good – very clean, very straight, and, wonder of wonders – finally CALM enough that we can actually ‘carry on’ after a change. I do remember the days when the changes consisted of huge leaps in the air that were so disruptive that we couldn’t even keep cantering on afterwards. 😉 The quality of her canter continues to improve – and the self-carriage is approaching that of the trot. We had some very good trot half pass last night…was not brave enough to try the canter half pass. She is still wanting to ‘flatten’ out and lose the bend after a few strides.

When I finished with Fling I got Faeryn, even tho it was already dark. Since I COULD ride, I felt I needed to ride as many as I could. It was already almost 7 and I could tell the rain was coming, but I figured if I could get in a good 20 minutes, that would be fine.

By the time I got on Faeryn, the wind had really kicked up. I should have lunged her, but the round pen is still pretty sloppy and I did not want to take the time. Faeryn was quite “up” and regulating her speed was a challenge. I had to really use big half halts to get her to listen to me – so I just put her on a 20m circle and worked on methodically getting her to move away from my leg and LISTEN to me and maintain a steady temp at trot. She had settled down and was doing some really good work when the temp dropped by about 10 degrees and the wind really started blowing a gale. She got very spooky and I managed to keep her working, but then finally decided it was pretty stupid to risk a bad experience. (This is the “discretion is the better part of valor!” part!) So I got off her, but to make a point, I went to the round pen and just worked her in hand with the long whip, making her move away from pressure and do turns on forehand/haunches for just a few minutes. By that time, the storm was almost on us and it was starting to rain. It poured for about ten minutes.  Hopefully we won’t get anymore rain today – if not, I should be able to ride tonight. It is supposed to get really cold tonight – I will really have to make myself get out and ride if that’s the case. I am such a cold weather wimp!

Sunday I am taking Fling to a ‘ride a test’ at a local farm to run through Third 1. It has been a long time since Fling has been off the property – and it’s supposed to be quite cold! But Fling is generally very reliable under saddle. Even when I’m riding her in the pasture and Faxx and Faeryn come streaking by at a gallop, she ignores them and goes right on with her work. She is very much like her mother in that respect!

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