I spent the rainy weekend shopping for clothes. People that know me well, know that is something I NEVER do. I do not swoon over a cute pair of pumps. I do not coordinate. But somehow, my inner girly fashionista was awakened when I realized that the opening hunt was this weekend! The Blessing of the Hounds marks the official start to formal season in hunting!
So I was on the prowl for appropriate attire. I hit up Goodwill first and found a very nice 100% wool jacket, charcoal grey, that would be a nice warm cubbing jacket. Although I REALLY want a tweed, any classy jacket in traditional colors will do, so this jacket fit the bill, all for $4. It needs new buttons, but is otherwise in mint condition.
I then went to the local tack shop (aka horse crack pusher). I cannot get out of that place for less than $100 and this weekend was no exception. I found a used black 100% wool hunt jacket, probably close to $250 new, for $75. It fit very well, so of course I had to have it. I also picked up a new white dress blouse and stock tie, with a jazzy white pattern on the fabric. Finally, I rounded out the look with a simple gold stock pin, not too bling, fashionably conservative. They did have the cutest wool tweed jacket there, in my size (of course) for a mere $150. I wanted it so bad, but then I figured out how much more I needed to buy stall mats for my new barn AND I wouldn't get an opportunity to wear the jacket until NEXT cubbing season, so I couldn't justify it. I think this is the first time I have been honestly upset over not buying clothes.
Anyway, I look very dapper in my new threads and I can't wait to show them off this weekend. I also thoroughly checked and my flask fits in both my vest pockets and in the inside pockets of my wool coat. Whew! Disaster averted!
As for Brego, he got a "tidy up" trim consisting of ears and whiskers today so he will be looking spiffy. For the big occasion, I will be braiding his forelock and possibly trying to do something with his nubbin tail.
Oh yes, I have been riding as well. Yesterday, we worked on dressage. I watched a video showing Phillippe Karl and got inspired to concentrate on Brego's rhythm and cadence through his lateral movements. You always see the "finished product" and it was great to see horses in the middle of their training scale. Yes, they were doing the half pass at a walk, and they were going so slow, but in perfect rhythm and bend. So I realized I need to stop pushing Brego through his movements at a probably artificially quick speed for his level and let him really swing through them in better cadence. This had the extra benefit of restraining me from over-cuing to push him along. I could be softer and quieter with my aids, get the same bend and effort, and let him figure it out at a more relaxed and comfortable pace.
In fact, the theme of the whole night was relaxation. And in that spirit I figured out that I was blocking with my hip on the canter departure. So when I sat deep, relaxed and let my hip open, instead of falling forward, Brego had a really nice and light departure. It was a real pleasant ride and it all came about because I decided to ask for more while asking with less.
Tonight, we did a conditioning ride. I haven't ridden a committed conditioning ride since August, so I was interested to see how Brego did with only the foxhunting to build his wind. We did three 5 minute trot sets with 2 minute walk intervals and then three 3 minute canter sets with 3 minute walk intervals. During the canter sets, as our route took us through the arena, I would jump little 2'6" jumps set up and then canter out of the arena, to simulate more of a cross country feel. I even jumped a 2'6" bank at the end of the sets. Brego did very well and was completely recovered in less than 10 minutes. So I can honestly say that this is the fittest he has ever been and I can thank foxhunting for getting him that way.
Much to do this week. I have a jumping lesson to work on my form on Thursday. Then I have the Opening Hunt on Saturday. Then, almost as an afterthought, we have our final schooling 3 phase for the season on Sunday. Brego will likely be tired in the dressage on Sunday, but I am interested in how he attacks cross country after hunting Saturday. Our goal is to go and have fun (and coach the SO) so no real pressure. I intend to take it easy, especially if we have some great runs on Saturday, but if Brego manages to show off some of his new departures, I won't complain. :)