April 1

Finally there are lessons. This season all of the trainers have been very busy with so many shows, and people competing for spots for the World Cup and places on the Pan Am teams. George too has been over-comitted and I have not had as many lessons as I had anticipated. So I was pretty excited that in addition to a great lesson with Debbie McDonald last weekend, I actually had two lessons with George this week. We decided to take Ruffino for both sessions since he has had even fewer lessons than Camillo this year.

Ruffino was great for both rides. Monday we spent a lot of time working towards the pirouettes and "closing him" in the canter without losing activity. Fino likes to sprawl out a bit so the business of being more through with his hind legs reaching farther under him was not his favorite, but he groaned and grunted and held it together. George had us start the pirouette work by riding a progressively smaller box. We focused on riding him actively out of the turn so that he did not get stuck and overly labored. We also worked on the counter changes in the canter half passes. On Wednesday, we picked up with the pirouette work and also rode some on the centerline to really focus on the straightness coming into the turn. Then we tried a very had exercise with a half pass zig zag on and off the rail. We went to the quarter line and back twice each long side to focus on keeping him connected during the change of rein. It was challenging to get him into the new outside rein and taking a half halt on it so quickly before heading back the other way. This was a tough exercise but it was very useful and we will keep it in our little bag of tricks for the future. After all of the canter work, we went back to the trot and tried to find how expressive we could make Ruffino's while remaining consistent balance. This too was hard, but we ended up with a pretty fantastic trot. Tomorrow Ruffino will have a day off or a trail ride!

On Tuesday, I did what I think will be my last Yoga session of the Florida season. It was torturous and there were a couple of times where I had to give up and rest in Childs Pose - I was not the only one. There was, of course, one odd man in the class who thought that it was appropriate to do Yoga in his boxer briefs, which left very little to the imagination. There always seems to be one of these guys in each class. They wear too little, sweat too much, or breathe too bizarrely. While I won't miss seeing the men at yoga, I will really miss seeing the group of old men who play stick ball two or three days a week in the parking lot of a park that I pass on my way to class. They are clearly re-living their youth and having a great time. How nice that they have a second chance to just be kids again!

April 7

Here we are one week into April and it is time to head home. It has been a busy last few days. The shippers have changed our departure date a couple of times and now it looks like Thursday.

Between packing, getting health certificates, checking trailer tires, and taking the truck in for an oil change, I have squeezed in just a little bit of last minute training. Debbie was coming to our barn to work with Betsy and also with Laura Graves. She had enough time to do a few sessions with me too so that was fun. With Ruffino we worked on connection, connection, connection. With Camillo we focused on getting him really responding to the outside rein. I need to use less inside rein. I thought that my changes were pretty straight, but I need to use more subtle aids to make them straighter. I also need to start thinking about keeping my walk canter transitions straighter too, since that is the basis for the flying change aid. Lots of homework for me!

Tomorrow a last hack with the boys and the final packing. I hope that I learned enough this season to carry me through another year.

Stay tuned.........more to come!