Pony and I had a lesson tonight and it is safe to say that, just shortly after getting home from the barn, I can already feel it! We had some really, really nice work and some not so nice work. The not so nice work definitely came at the end of our lesson after we had gotten really nice (and really hard) work in the beginning and we could both really tell that he was just tired so we opted to stop on that and not push it as we were not going to get the quality of work we were looking for.
We are at the point where the rubber meets the road and I need to buckle down and really ask for correct work. Something that I really need to be conscious of is to go for high quality work for very short periods of time before giving him a break but at the same time I need to make sure I am not settling for mediocre work just because it is hard (for both of us!). We are asking him to carry himself and really sit on his hind end which is just flat out hard. He is in no way naughty about any of it but definitely has some invasion techniques that he sucks me into, so he isnt truly carrying himself, and if we dont teach him how to do it now then 3rd level will be impossible! 1st level we could fake it till we made it but that is no more. The good news is that he can, and does, give it to me when I ride him for it and it will only get better with more work and time. Let me just tell you how freaking hard it is though!
I am super excited for show season to start (and jealous of all those on the east coast who have already started) and it will be SO nice to have Mary coaching us at Devonwood to really help us get our best work. We talked a little tonight and if finances permit we hope to go to Devonwood in the Spring in April before hitting Heart of the Valley in May! If we can go to both then I think we will plan on doing first level test 2/3 on Saturday and second level test 1 on Sunday for the first show and then go from there for HOV. I want to qualify him for Champs at 1st level (and get my 1st level scores!) and it will be good to get him out and have a more relaxed first day since it will be both our first 'big' girl/boy show. Counting down the day!