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Arie had shoes put on behind today…he was very good for the farrier! He tends to travel close behind ….it was good to see that when we trotted him out after the shoeing, that he traveled a bit wider. We’ll be keeping him in boots for a week or so, until he’s used to the shoes!

He was such a good boy today. After he was schooled, Kassie walked him all over the property and he was a perfect gentleman….

The cold weather is easing up a bit and he’s settling in quite well. I’m happy to see him beginning to reach for the bit a little more each day. It would appear that he was either lunged frequently in side reins or simply allowed to curl behind the bit…..we are spending most of the time encouraging him in front of the vertical and of course, getting that all important steering down! LOL…sometimes he’s so graceful and agile but every once in a while, his youth comes out and he’ll get a little off balance or just ahead of himself…he has a huge stride!

My poor Callista!!! Yesterday she broke out in a huge case of hives! Had the vet out and put her on dex. We haven’t a clue as to what set it off….palm tree pollen? pine tree? We hadn’t made any feed or hay changes….poor girl was sooo itchy. But so much better today! Still some bumps on her back but nothing like yesterday…no riding of course until all the hives are gone.

Rafi and I are still having our Third level adventures! Cathy has upped the ante every day this week….actually she started upping it last week. We are all about impulsion, hind end activity and getting her up in the shoulders. May I confess that I’m T-i-r-e-d!!! Between the gym, the cardio and the new riding demands, I get home in the afternoon and all I want to do is nap! Did I mention that I’m dieting?….just one more element frying me at the moment! This not really a whine or a rant…merely me examining how my life is being reduced to: “Forward!” “Make Her listen to your back!” “Not enough trot for the test” “Better…more!!” “Think piaffe!” “Good…now keep that…get AFTER her!”

I’m dreaming this stuff at night now…

May I confess something? My trainer is going out of town for a few days and I am looking forward to relaxing in the saddle tomorrow and Friday. I do plan to school Rafi per her instructions and of course working on the test….but with a slightly less hectic approach….I suspect Rafi wouldn’t mind an easy couple days either! We’ve been going gang busters for the last two weeks.

I totally understand the why and the what that Cathy is doing to me! My going Third Level next week is a huge step up for me….I didn’t really appreciate how more difficult the riding becomes at this level. I thought I did, but it is much more than I expected. Dressage always looks so easy and elegant from the ground, doesn’t it? The collection demands and the energy needs are way above any previous work I have done at First and Second. I just can’t get the extended stuff unless the horse is so in front of my aids. And the trot? The activity Cathy wants in the collected and medium is what I expected the extended trot to feel like! Accessing the extended gaits is the great frontier for me right now! While I AM riding better than I ever have, I am also truly experiencing what it means not to have a completely independent seat. So this is pretty humbling!

So my life now is all about The Seat. I go to the gym….I no longer lift weights…I now do Pilates related core work, assisted stretches aimed at opening hips, dropping the scapula while lengthening the torso and stretching those tight, tight, tight hip flexors and quads. I am getting some payoff, but the effort in the gym is far exceeding the results in the saddle!

Did I mention? I’m hungry…I have lost nearly five pounds since Christmas….I’m exceedingly happy about that, but I have so far to go…

Third Level is a celebration of progress for me. But it clearly raises the bar of how much more I have to access physically and mentally of myself. Thank goodness my mare has such a huge heart. I am so lucky to have this horse for a teacher! And I so love the fact that FINALLY after several trainers who simply felt a heavy, baby booming amateur really can only get just so far, that I now have one who totally believes that I can do this.

So regardless of how tired I am, how nervous I am about the show next week, and despite how sometimes overwhelming this level of work feels….I’m a pretty thilled soul just now!