BUT! I have kept diligently riding. And though there's no way on earth I could summarize everything, I had what felt like The Perfect Lesson on Friday, and so I must try to get back into the habit of posting. :)
As some know, I was looking at the possibility of buying the horse of one of the instructors, who's being retired from school horse duty. Unfortunately, while I like him on the ground and in the stalls, he's not happy in the ring anymore, and after a few weeks of riding him, I did come to realize he and I weren't a good match. Alas... it was something worth looking into, but it proved not to be something worth pursuing.
I've also still been looking at farms. The last one I took a look at, unfortunately, was a disaster. It was very promising -- and the grounds were still lovely -- but it had been listed for about $15k too much... and so to keep from losing money, the owner had rented it out. In the meantime, the tenants had not cared for it well, and the farm had gone to seed. It still had a lot of potential, but now it was just 'potential,' and would take a lot of work to get it back to where it was when it was listed. And since the owner wasn't willing to drop the price at all... oh, well.
Those stumbling blocks aside, however, riding has been going well. The new instructor has changed the focus of things; we've worked first on making my transitions smoother, then on bending exercises at the canter, then combining both precision of path and smoothness of transition. I feel like I've made more progress in the past three months than in the previous year before them.
I've also been put semi-permanently onto a new horse. We've tried a few other horses. Roman, I still love dearly... I suspect he'll always have a very special place in my heart. But unfortunately, I'm at a place where he's not the right horse for me in the ring. Roman's great for folks who need to learn to be more assertive in their riding (as I did in the past) and later for folks who are /very/ assertive, enough to really control him (which I am not, at present). So I'm past the point where he's the right horse for me, and not yet to the point where he will be the right horse for me again.
Which doesn't mean he doesn't still get massively spoiled every time I'm at the stables. Or that he doesn't make a ruckus if I walk past his stall on an errand and don't stop to say hi.
Ladd is a great match for me in the ring; on Ladd, I feel like I'm riding a level above my actual skill, generally, because he /is/ very sensitive and so doesn't take a lot of effort to make do what you want. But I just don't like Ladd that much in the aisle... I'm told his attempts to nip and to poop on his rider when being groomed and all are signs of affection, but... well, he's not the best choice for me overall, though I don't mind riding him when he's who I'm assigned. I don't DISLIKE him, but I don't have that special rapport I have with some of the other horses.
Which... brings us to Derby, who I've mentioned before. Derby's part thoroughbred and part... something. One theory is that the 'something' is quarter horse and Arabian. The other theory -- and the one I subscribe to -- is that the 'something' is beagle. Derby's the one who'll lick your face and who lets his tongue hang out the side of his mouth like a dog, and who would likely fetch a frisbee if you threw it for him. When you bring him treats, he just wraps you in a giant horsie hug and holds you there for as long as he can get away with. In the ring, Derby's weird. He starts very, very cold and slow, but ends up very hot and "I'M A CRAZY THOROUGHBRED LET'S ENTER THE TRIPLE CROWN I THINK I CAN WIN! WHOO C'MON LET'S GALLOP NOW!"
Despite this, Derby and I have proven to be a good match. Enough so that the instructor has suggested he's the right horse for me to half-lease. And though he's half-leased right now, he should be available by October. So next month, we'll be discussing that.
Meanwhile, Derby's who I've been on for all my transitional exercises and bending exercises. And in the past few weeks, we've moved back to jumping the crossbars. Normally the jumping is on Thursday (when I now have a solo lesson), and flatwork on Friday (when I have a classmate who is not ready to jump). But my classmate was missing this Friday, so we worked a bit on the crossbars... and then came a surprise.
The instructor told me to drop to a walk for a bit... then she came out, removed the cross-bars, and put up an actual jump. It was only a two-foot jump, but she asked if I felt ready to try it. I told her I did... and we cleared it wonderfully. Had a canter out the back end, bent properly back onto the course... it was exhilarating. She asked if I wanted to do it again. I'm surprised she had to!
So we went over the real jump several more times in each direction, before I got down and loosened Derby's girth and walked him a few laps to cool off. He was still ready to break into a run and jump more... we were both having a blast. Spent some quality time with him after the ride, grooming and feeding him, and then fed all the usual suspects (Roman, Chester, Coalby, etc.) before I headed out. Chester got extra treats because he's about to be retired and put out to pasture; he's an old, old man, and his knee is starting to bother him more.
I'm very much looking forward to next week's lessons!
(And hi! I'll try not to vanish again for so long at a stretch.)