|A very happy mare surveys her domain|
I rode James first, and took him out into the fields to get him used to paying attention and working in non-ring surroundings. We worked on not falling on our faces in downward transitions while the deer, hawk, and rabbits looked on with interest. We even saw a fox, who I swear told me to get my heels down as he trotted past.
Then I had a lesson on Sug, who was not feeling like a 17 year-old. From the start of the warmup Madame Mare was on her toes and moving forward, tossing her head and cavorting when we picked up the canter. She thundered down the long side when we did canter lengthenings and showed her displeasure when I asked her to come back.
We started to jump, and man, was Sug ever ready. The Sainted Mare was in jump-off mode even over the teeny warmup fence we circled over. I was sweating up a storm trying to keep my weight in my heels and shoulders back while half - halting and trying not to become too "handsy."
We had to install some brakes by halting her after some fences and in the middle of a line, but frankly, I couldn't get mad at her. She's 17, and I'm beyond thrilled she's feeling that good. We jumped a few courses, and pleasantly surprised my trainer when I asked to add a few fences at the end of each course. That's pretty significant, as I'd lost my jumping mojo for a while, and for me to ask to jump more represents a huge gain in confidence.
Sug was still bouncing with energy after our lesson, so we headed out to the fields and I let her open throttle and gallop a bit. The sun was on its way down and the combination of golden light, green fields, local wildlife and powerful mare was as close to heaven as it gets. We wandered around some more before I brought her back for a bath and some quality grazing time.
If pressed, I'd tell you we were both smiling.