All I can say is that 4 am comes quickly. I found myself wondering why my phone alarm was awakening me so rudely...and then I remembered I had a big day and had no time to waste! Firstly, I had to give Gunsmoke a bath, yes at 4 am or really by that time 4:30. He had spent the night outside, for the first time since I've owned him, because he found something absolutely vile to roll in right before bed time. I couldn't even deal so out the door he got thrown....and so the day began. From there to the barn and then down the road to The Plains and the cross country schooling course at Karen's. You could tell it was going to be a very warm day and I was much appreciative of the 8 am time slot for my lesson. It was well worth the early wake up call and the beltway/66 traffic! I had ridden over the course back in the fall for the first time and was happy this time to even know how to hack there..a beautiful piece of property and I kept looking behind me the whole way at the spectacular morning view of the mountains surrounded by a foggy haze. Reminds me to be grateful for what it is I get to do every day. Well, I don't get to ride at High Acres every day; but you get my drift. There were some new exercises set up, a new portable or two which we promptly used as our warm up fences. The schooling field doesn't cover a whole lot of ground, which makes it good to work on constantly having to go forward where you have the time and space and then set your horse back up for whatever obstacle or combination you are tackling next. This is exactly what I need to work on at the moment with Morris and I was thankful for Karen's insight and ability to get me to create and recreate lots of positive rides over a wide variety of obstacles. There were 5 ditches to practice!, one set up with a pretty tough coffin exercise. Took me a second try to perfect it heading one direction, and I rode it very well the first time when I did the skinny first (and do I mean SKINNY!), one stride to the ditch, two strides to a roll top then 5 or 6 strides to another roll top. Corner, mound, narrow brush line went well for me as well, and gave me lots of opportunity to practice slipping my reins in a way that will allow Morris to have an even better shape over his fences on the varying terrain.
The last section of my lesson took place at the water complex. We went right for the big boy stuff, a roll top one stride in for starters, no walking through and giving it a sniff ha ha ha. We ended with a tough exercise that Morris and I absolutely nailed and it felt like a million bucks. It was a vertical bounce on the way in, two strides across the water, jump up the bank and then bounce out over another vertical. It was a feeling that I would like to memorize, we just flowed through the whole exercise, and we ended the jumping session on that note. Much to my surprise, however, my morning wasn't over quite yet!
I consulted with Karen about the remaining rides before Bromont and the timing of my last gallop. I couldn't believe how lucky I was when Karen suggested that I gallop on the OCET gallop right then and there, and then my days would work out perfectly to have my final gallop on Monday before shipping up to Canada on Tuesday. It took a little instructing, okay it took a lot of instructing because I had never been there before and I had to learn where I was going, what side I was to gallop on, where to slow down for crossings, where to check my watch, where I could finally end...all I have to say is I got it now and I can't wait to do it again! Morris and I absolutely had the best time, felt like we were doing our last gallop before Rolex or something monumental, I must admit. 1 mile completely uphill, groomed, with threatening signs lining it most of the way that ensure no wayward hooves or tires find their way into the gallop lanes. Even though we had just jumped 50? cross country fences, accelerating and organizing for the past hour and a half, Morris just pricked his ears and ate up the ground. No doubt in my mind that I have a fit horse for our 2*! But what a way to start my day, and start my final week before our biggest competition of the year.