Saddeless January was going to be a thing. I was going to ride all month without a saddle, get my thighs good and strong, fix my balance, it was going to be great! And then I was told there will be someone giving lessons on the 22nd and I figured I should work on real, actual dressage work if I want the lesson to be worth a damn. BUT I did ride 5 times without a saddle, so that is good right?
Bareback riding actually went really well, Mia and I did w/t/c each time and I felt 100% secure. The last bareback ride was even a fitness ride, with 3 minute trot sets and 2 minute canter sets, and we were planning on upping a full minute for our next ride. Oh well, I am very happy that my balance came back, I didn't try to fall off anymore and my thighs are stronger already.
Next we rode in the dressage saddle and Mia was, overall, pretty decent. It was cold and wet, so very, very wet outside, so I had one very wet mare and took a long time to warm up. Couple that with a short ride due to an unplanned circumstance, we didn't accomplish everything I had hoped for however Mia's canter was pretty good. If her canter is good, I am happy because that is by far her weakest/hardest gait. The first canter departure contained a small leap, a quick halt, a scolding and strong half halt into the transition reminded her that leaping was not appreciated and the second was awesome.
One night last week the barn brought in a (single) jump into the arena (!!! No jump standards have been in the arena since May !!) so I laid out a set of canter poles next to the jump and we worked on consistency. Over and over the poles we went, Mia had a hard time cantering over them without falling on her forehand and rushing out of them. Especially when we go to the right, but persistent progress was made. We were finally able to go over the canter poles 4 times, alternate leads each time, without a huge mistake so I popped her over the jump.
Mia looked at it, almost thought about ducking out (what mare????) and went over. Hmm, that was odd. We turned around and went again and Mia just attacked the jump. Maybe I had surprised her the first time? I hauled her to a halt, as she was all gallopy and heavy, and went over the canter poles again. After 2 times, she had softened back up and popped over the fence like an educated, proper lady. We obviously have some ground work to do before we go over fences regularly, Mia needs to remember to sit and wait and not launch over poles or fences, there is no need to be all gallopy after a fence.
This week has been all about dressage. Getting her softer, responsive and consistent as we have the lesson coming up. And it is working! Mia is much more consistent. Last night she was pretty heavy in the bridle and we ended up doing a lot of lateral work which fixed most of it. Lots of shoulder in, haunches in, haunches out, all on circles. At one point she got so mad she just charged forward without paying attention, ran herself into the only jump in the entire arena, decided to deer leap straight up and over it and almost had me come off. Nice mare, thanks....that was a bad mare. She got a sharp boot to the ribs and we went straight back to work in the canter and low and behold, she was so much nicer. Apparently she just needed to throw a tantrum?
This is what we ended with. To the right, it isn't as great but that is her bad direction. But guys....do you see? An EDITED video?! I am getting with the times and being all media about my posts. In the last piece of news, I finally heard back from the saddle fitter, she is in FL for the season. My concern is my jump saddle has compacted a little and is sitting really low near her withers when I am mounted. She wants me to try shims in my Mattes pad and if that doesn't work, she is going to send me shims until she can come out when she is back in PA. Crossing fingers, it rides soo beautifully, I want it to fit perfectly too.