I’m in a good place, emotionally and geographically, at Windwalker Ranch. I really love that Spirit is at Laurie’s barn, benefiting from daily turnouts and extra training. I love being part of the barn group – all of Laurie’s clients are fantastic, down-to-earth people who care about the horses’ health above all else. No prissy madona types. And so far it feels that Spirit loves it too. She’s been calm and relaxed and happy every time I’ve visited her.
On Friday evening I went out to see her. It was my first practice ride at Windwalker. We worked for a good 15 minutes, practicing what I learned at the belt lesson. Spirit was great, and I felt that I was doing pretty well with my new found supportive body positioning, and *demanding* Spirit be balanced and uphill. There’s a few low spots in the arena where I am being a particular stickler on this point, and it is really helping. Keeping Spirit uphill while going downhill (even slightly) has always been a challenge for me. Afterward we went on a nice trail ride. Spirit still had plenty of go, so we cantered up the hill, did some exploring, got completely lost, then turned around and came back. I will need an escort for my next few trail rides. =P
|On trail, halfway up the hill, overlooking the dressage court.|
Saturday we had a fabulous lesson. I got there 40 minutes early (instead of 25 to 30) and had plenty of time to get ready and tack up and warm up. It was so wonderful not to feel like I was rushing – I’m going to try and do that more often. Laurie had back-to-back lessons, so I was able to go warm up in the dressage court while Laurie finished up the lesson ahead of me. It was really nice – I felt like I had a great connection with Spirit by the time we went in for our lesson. Our first jump lesson in 3 weeks.
Laurie set up an fun gymnastic for us. I only took pictures after the lesson, after it was all built up, but of course it started out as just ground poles and then slowly but surely everything increased. Here’s how it ended up:
Laurie didn’t actually tell me this, but I presume that we did gymnastics in part because it reduces rider-error. All I really had to do was set up Spirit properly then get out of her way. And in fact I was a little rusty on both counts, but soon got it figured out. Meanwhile Spirit was a good sport and didn’t get too offended at my mistakes. We both had fun, which is the whole point.
We did have one refusal, at the red and white oxer, when we added some flower boxes to the jumps beyond it. I schooled it carefully, thoughtfully, then we we approached (the whole thing) and had no problem. In some sense I’m actually pleased that I got the opportunity to handle a refusal. After the lesson we did another trail ride, this time with Jess and Storm. It was a lovely Saturday afternoon.
Time for a few more ranch photos:
|12×24 half-covered pipe corrals overlooking arena. Spirit on the right.|
|Lower turnouts (behind pipe corrals). Spacious with plenty of shade and water.|
|Quasi artistic photo of lemon groves near the washracks.|
The facility itself is definitely growing on me. The pipe corral stalls are not kept in great condition as compared to Rancho Linda Mio, and they are more expensive, but overall they are comparable. The jump arena is much larger with tons of jumps, the round pen is much larger and has better footing, and they have an official dressage arena and actual trails! And there isn’t a road running through it – a plus. The smell of the orchards is a great bonus. But who’s kidding who? What really makes this ranch great is increased access to my trainer, Laurie Canty, and knowing she is looking out for Spirit daily.
In other news, I’m finally cashing in on our prizes from GLAPHC 2010 (yes, 2 years ago). Padded black leather halter with engraved name plate, and I also picked up a new cotton lead (she ate hers upon move-in) and a lovely aqua flysheet (on sale for $40 at Calabasas saddlery! Score!).