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Sierra In Training | Week 3 Update

Ride 8 - Mon, Jan 27

On Sunday, January 26 Sierra had a day to be left to her own devices in the pasture with her buddies. She had a really gruelling week, and earned her day off. Even though the show yielded some pretty 'blah' results at the end of an equally 'blah'week, I reminded myself to stay positive as it had only been a week and there were several left before Sierra came home.

Her first ride back on Monday, January 27 was described as 'meh'. I knew CA was tired from the weekend and even though Sierra got a day off, she didn't.  As such, I didn't pry for much information, but she said Sierra felt unfocused and pissy.  Overall, she described it as a 'meh' ride and didn't offer much other information which I can understand - we all have days that are just very 'meh' and nothing necessarily goes 'wrong', but it doesn't always go 'right' either.

Ride 9 - Tuesday, Jan 28

The following day, Carol Ann continued to pick away at how crooked Sierra is and how much she tries to get out of using her RH.  Once again, Sierra kicked out in protest at CA's requests but this time happened to be riding off the rail and luckily didn't damage the arena and carried on like usual afterward.  CA described it as a really good ride, and said Sierra worked really, really hard. She felt she really, genuinely tried but is really struggling to accept the right aids when tracking left.  I brought up body work, knowing that many don't agree with it. I, however,  assumed given the level CA rides at that it was a necessary part of her routine so I felt relatively comfortable bringing it up to her. I explained that I am very pro-body work, but that I would leave it up to her discretion.  We spoke at length about it and said it did cross her mind, however she genuinely feels it's a weakness issue especially considering I had these issues as well - I just didn't push the fact that she needs to be straighter as hard.

Following their ride in the ring, CA hacked her down the road in the ice-fog before turning back because she was [understandably] cold!  Things were looking up, and I was really happy that the last two rides seemed to be moving in a positive direction.

Following Sierra's 9th ride, there were extremely high winds, risk of freezing rain and some unplanned arena maintenance that landed all the horses on an unscheduled day off as the arena was unavailable most of the day and the weather outside wasn't conducive to having nay fun.  I really wasn't disappointed because the reality is, I don't ride Monday - Friday/Saturday, and it's good for Sierra to be ridden a little 'sporadically' with days off here and there rather than on a strict schedule.

Ride 10 - Thursday, Jan 30

The next day, the weather cleared and yielded a beautiful day.  CA knew I had trail riding issues with Sierra last year, which always struck me as odd considering she was fine the year prior and had evented before I purchased her.  CA vowed to do her best to address this issue, however training in January in NW Canada doesn't often allow such guilty pleasures.  That being said, CA decided to make hay while the sun shined and hit the trails with a friend to a nearby river.  She wasn't certain how far they would make it given the freezing rain that fell the day before, but was happy to report that Sierra was perfect.  Sierra lead the majority of the way on the buckle, though did get a little jiggy after they turned for home and had to be reminded to walk a few times.  CA reported that Sierra strode out with confidence and relaxation and seemed genuinely happy to be out of the arena and exploring nature.
She described the ride as 'fabulous' and 'so, so, so good'

This was a still from a video so low quality, but CA was waving at the camera saying "HI ALAINA!" lol

Ride 11 - Friday, January 31

The Vet was at the barn and all of CA's mounts were slotted to get their teeth done, so Sierra was the only horse on the roster that was scheduled for the arena today.  For the first time with the exception of the show and the brief clip on the trail ride, CA managed to rope a friend into taking some video for me which was fantastic.  I hadn't seen Sierra school at all yet, so it was really exciting.  The video was very much a schooling ride and in no way did CA attempt to show off for the camera, which I kind of appreciated.  CA has been really hammering Sierra on the straightness issue and it's really, really difficult for Sierra.  Between the physically difficult exercises and the use of the whip when she ignores the leg aids, she gets easily wound - but I was really happy to see how quickly she is to relax, and when she does relax she really wants to stretch - which tells me she is working hard.  CA is really enjoying her, and thinks it's adorable that after she gives a big effort she blows and wants to stretch.

Ride 12 - Saturday, February 1

On the 12th ride, CA decided to have a 'no-pressure' ride, for the most part. She still had expectations and put a solid ride on her, but she chose not to 'bug' or 'nag' Sierra to the level that she has lately.  She did this because she wanted to see how far she has come since she began with her, and described it as a good Litmus Test for both of them.  The ride showed her that Sierra has retained her lessons, but her weakness is still evident and as such, she's finding it hard to maintain the requests for longer periods of time.  She's not needing constant reminding or explaining anymore in some aspects, and Sierra is becoming much more straight and aligned.  Overall, she described it as a low pressure, excellent ride.  The last messages I received included "It was a very positive ride", "I'm impressed!" and "My job as a trainer is to pick these battles so you don't have to.  She understands, but can't hold it for very long right now because she's not fit, but it's coming.".  The final message I received was "Have I mentioned the incredible try in your horse?!??! God love a TB Mare!".

Overall, the week began with a rather bleak outlook. I was struggling with the mixed emotions of the show last weekend, but overall the week has ended on a much more positive note in the way of Sierra's development.  I still miss her immensely, and it seems to get worse as each day or week passes, so it really is a bitter-sweet feeling and I can't wait to have her back home!


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