This week, we set up a grid that I first encountered when riding with Gina Miles. She had a lot of great gymnastic exercises, and this was one of my favorites: canter in over a placing rail, 9' to a cross rail oxer, a short two strides to a vertical, a short two strides to another cross rail oxer, and out over another 9' placing rail. The eventual goal is to make the cross rail oxer wide and impressive enough to make the horse jump sharply and spread across it, then have to compress to get up over the vertical, and then show some scope over the oxer again. I'm not sure we ever got the jumps quite big enough to really force Kiki or Ky to stretch and compress in the way the exercise intends, but it was still a great workout for both of them.
(The grid from the way in -- we probably could have done a littttle better job at making it straight!)
(Pa walks the distance in the grid - we made it a very short 2 stride at 30')
(The last oxer was not insubstantial!)
I was really thrilled with Ky: last week he felt a little flat and underwhelming going into the grid, so that I felt like I really had to egg him along every time to get him through. When I jumped bareback on Wednesday, we had sort of a light bulb moment together where I felt like, for the first time, I could really rev his engine while keeping him in a really upright balance. Today, I was able to recreate that energized canter, and he really carried me through the grid with a great sense of power. He jumped neat as a pin and made the exercise feel easy from start to finish, even when we had it at its maximum dimensions (3'3" vertical and roughly 3'3" oxers). What a champ!
Kiki found the exercise a little difficult to start, as it really tested her to be clever with her front end and adjustable in her canter -- two things that she's not a massive natural fan of! It was cool to watch her improve from start to finish. For example, in some of her early attempts at the biggest setting, she jumped in VERY boldy, and then got a bit over her shoulder at the vertical and on the way out. By the end, though, she had sharpened up impressively:
What an improvement! Robin jumped a few single fences at the end, and Kiki jumped absolutely beautifully; a great sign that the gymnastics are doing what they're supposed to be doing!
Next week both Robin and I will be away, but as of the first week of December all systems are go for Winter Gymnastics, Round 3. The first show of 2013 feels pretty far away still, but at this rate it's going to be here before we know it!