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Sierra In Training | Week 4 Update

Ride 13 - Sunday, February 2 2020

On Sunday, a group of 4H Kiddo's were utilizing the arena, and CA took advantage of the mild chaos to re-create a 'show at home' type feeling, and ride among the kids.  Due to the lack of steering most of the kids possess, she chose to have another 'no pressure' ride and her only goal was to work on relaxation amidst the carnage.  She reported that Sierra took a little more time to relax, but overall it was a positive ride.

In other news, unrelated to her training, she is quite settled now in her temporary 'home' - She not only has two boyfriends, but has also befriended a fellow mare and they often take long naps in the sun together, which is adorable!

The weather took a turn the past few days and the beautiful break in weather yielded a handful of days that hovered between -20C and -30C again, and we are slotted to warm back up.  As such, and the fact that a day off was due, Sierra had Monday off, and carried on as usual on Tuesday.

Ride 14 - Tuesday, February 4, 2020

CA messaged me early in the morning saying she had some personal plans in the morning, and she typically tends to ride Sierra first, however today she was going to change it up and ride Sierra last.  She mentioned that Sierra is quickly becoming one of her favorite rides, and we joked about saving the best for last before she carried on with her day and I didn't hear from her until later that afternoon.

Over the past few rides CA began a trend of bugging Sierra less to see if she 'chooses the right answer' when posed with a question, without having her hand forced (or in this case, her hind end) so to speak.  She pushed Sierra really hard in the beginning, which yielded some 'ugly' schooling sessions that cracked the door to show a small sliver of brilliance that was slowly unfolding after addressing some major hurdles that were hindering our progress.  She has since decided that it's time to take a step back from the constant reminding, to do a check-in and ensure that Sierra has learned from those tough rides and instead, set her up with two options in which Sierra could choose the right or wrong answer.. this could include things like trotting down a long side without 'over riding' or constantly reminding her to keep herself straight and instead, just seeing what Sierra does and CA was really happy to report that she "chooses the right answer about 85% of the time now".  She was also really excited to say that when she does need a reminder, a subtle request is yielding a much more positive response than it had prior and rather than dwelling on being reprimanded, Sierra relaxes much sooner.  Additionally, she said she rarely needs to really get after her anymore - instead, a gentle reminder seems to be all that is needed, while prior those gentle reminders were completely ignored because #LifeIsHard

In closing, CA said "she was so good and tried so hard, I could have cried."  There was also a Dressage lesson going on during her ride, and both the rider and the coach offered several nice compliments on how lovely Sierra is, and how great she looked. Good mare!

Ride 15 - Wednesday, February 5, 2020

On Wednesday, CA decided to change things up a little bit and put her stirrups up a hole and school some speed bumps, working on the straightness and general flat work in between fences.  I've only jumped Sierra twice since I bought her because her flat work was such trash and it's not my main focus at this point, but we thought maybe the mental break would be a fun change for my Sisi girl.  The two times I did jump her (over tiny jumps), she was absolutely rock steady and didn't put a foot wrong. I set the path, and she took me there without falter. She didn't speed up, she didn't get loose - she felt like the perfect little hunter packer for her nervous mama who hadn't jumped in ages.  Much to my surprise, when CA jumped her Sierra got very amped up and decided to fling her head about half a stride out from each fence. CA felt she was expecting to be pulled on, but I think she was just excited. She rushed nearly every fence and overall just looked quite fractious.  CA, a Jumper, felt it was a fantastic ride though I had my reservations.  Regardless, Jumping is still not my focus and Sierra seemed to really enjoy the change of scenery after several grueling weeks of professional training, so it was not a loss!  I'm really curious to see if she goes like that with me in the future, but overall CA rode her very well despite her being a loon!

Ride 16 - Friday, February 7, 2020

Sierra got Thursday off, and on Friday CA reported that Sierra was very distracted and looky - we have had some pretty high winds lately, and evidently they are wreaking havoc around where Sierra is as well.  In addition to that, the snow was sliding off the roof, and reno's in the loft in the arena didn't aid the situation.  She went through the motions, but CA said it "wasn't a fantastic ride."

Ride 17 - Saturday, February 8, 2020

Saturday's ride yielded some slightly better results, CA mentioned she was still a bit 'spinny' (not physically, just mentally), but that there was significant improvement from the day prior.  Unfortunately, I was busy when we chatted and she didn't offer any other information, so i'm assuming it was a "meh" ride.

Overall, seems like bit of a 'meh' week again and it's making me a little nervous for what I'll be bringing home - I'm sure it won't be anything I can't handle, but due to various contributing factors I decided to go down on the weekend of February 29th and pick Sierra up.  CA is back up north on march 14/15, so this will give me about 2 weeks to school her on my own before CA comes and addresses everything I've managed to undo during that period and I think it's my best option right now.

In other news, though my plan was to head home the morning of March 1st with her, the barn that she went to a show at recently just announced a Dressage Schooling Show, and we decided to enter Sierra which will put me on the road home a little later than planned, but it's hard to pass up another opportunity to get some show miles under her girth.  I haven't been riding, so CA will ride her in the show but it will be nice to be able to attend (weather pending, of course), and see how things go!


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