Kiki has been feeling GREAT the past few days. Phew! After her crazy rankness of the first few days I had her back, I was a bit worried that we were in for a long summer. But, after a brief re-acqauinting period we're back on track and I'm really able to appreciate how strong and good she feels.
A few days ago I got the guts up to ride her bareback for the first time ever (I've always worried she might have a CRACRAY attack that I would not be able to survive)... in the dark, no less! Much to my surprise, she was not only not wacky about being in the dark, but also felt great bareback. We did the best shoulder-in work she's ever done, and even started to get some progress on her haunches in, which is something she's always found super difficult. Good girl!
Then, today, we did a little jumping. The jumps were set in the ring from a Pony Club lesson the day before and ranged from an x to a 2'9" vertical, along with a little trot-in gymnastic of placing rail to an x, one stride to a vertical, one stride to an oxer. We trotted through the gymnastic once to get going (it was all x's to start) and then popped around. Kiki was super but I was realizing as I looked around that I was feeling a little chicken about putting the jumps up. Since we're going Novice in a week, I decided I needed to do something to get my eye up or have a very nerve-wracking weekend!
So, I turned to the gymnastic. I love gymnastics because they set you up to jump well, and then you can look back on them and go, 'Yes! I can actually jump that high!' I started by putting the gymnastic to a bigger x, then a 2'6" vertical, then a 2'9" oxer. The distances had originally been set for ponies cantering in, so I thought it would be a good, slightly short, test for Kiki to trot into. She went through like an old pro and felt great, so I put the jumps up 6" (leaving the x the same). Again, it was no big thing, so I decided to bump them up again. I've jumped Kiki 3'6" one time before, right before she moved up to Training last year, but that was feeling like a pretty long time ago as I trotted into the line! Ahhh but she was so good, I needn't have worried.
I'd originally planned to stop at 3'6", but she made it feel so easy that I decided to be ballsy and put it up once again to 3'9". At this point I was only adjusting the oxer and leaving the first two elements the same, so that it went placing rail to x, one stride to 3' vertical, once stride to the now 3'9" oxer. I moved the oxer out a smidge to make it easier for her. She gave the front rail a rub but put in such an amazingly cracking effort that I literally cackled with glee as we landed. What a champ! In a move of totally unforeseen cajones, I decided to up it one more. Why not go for 4'?
Well, I think she was a little shocked and awed when we got into the line and she realized it was so big, but turned herself inside out to try to avoid the rails. She lost her form a little bit (dropping her knees) but jumped twice as high to make up for it, and cleared it without so much as a rub. That's my girl!! I popped over the single x and one of the 2'6" verticals just to make sure she finished on a super confident note, and then gave her as many hugs and pats as she would tolerate. She was sooo good!!
(Kiki checks out the 4' oxer she conquered - look how far above the point of her shoulder it is! Good woman, Kiki!)
She's going to get a well-deserved rest say tomorrow and then the countdown to Huntington, and my first horse trial in 11 months, begins!! I'm super excited, but am starting to feel the butterflies already. I'd love to keep this good trend going for 6 more days at least...