Lola and I have been making slow and steady progress as we approach our big trip to Kentucky for the Makeover. It’s hard to remember that she has only been off the track for 12 months and that she has been in my life for just 11 of those. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by and all that we have accomplished together. This final month we went cross-country schooling, participated in another Derby and went to our first Hunter/Jumper show. Lola did amazing! We were not able to do much warmup at the hunter/jumper show but that didn’t seem to bother Lola. As soon as she went in the ring and saw the jumps it was like she said, “okay Mom, we got this!”. Did I mention this was her first time jumping a course in an arena? We had two clear rounds and even managed a 6th place in one of the classes! Not bad for a field hunter in an arena! There was quite a bit of gravel in the warm-up arena at one of the venues and it was so nice for me to be able to throw her Scoots so she could stay comfortable!
We still have some things to work on in the next two weeks. Cantering in the left lead has been a struggle for Lola, or rather I should say picking up the left lead is hard. When there are jumps involved or in the field, she gets her leads fairly consistently but, in an arena, or enclosed space this is more challenging for her. She tends to second guess what I ask and then gets frustrated when she doesn’t get it right. Working in a larger space and letting her think about what lead is more comfortable in the direction we are traveling has helped her immensely to gain confidence. Instead of correcting her immediately when she picks up the wrong lead, she fixes it herself. It’s also a great way to practice flying changes! We have been jumping easily at 2 foot 6 inches but now have to ad in some bigger jumps. At the Makeover the Field Hunter division (what we are competing in) will include jumps up to 3 feet. I don’t think this will be hard for us. When Lola sees a jump, she locks onto it like a missile to a target and there isn’t anything that’s going to stop her from going over that jump! She is amazingly fun to jump because of this; you can feel her excitement to fly!
Lola has certainly come a long way under saddle, but I think some of the biggest changes I have seen in Lola over the last 11 months is physical. She has grown an inch taller and put on several hundred pounds of muscle. Her hooves have improved drastically, now showing a healthy wide frog, good sole depth and strong walls. She is able to freely walk over most surfaces barefoot and when she has her Scoots on, she is an all terrain-vehicle!
As our departure time approaches, I have started to go through my packing list. It will be Lola and I, my Mom and three of our dogs making the trip so it takes some organization to get us all to fit! This will be my last year competing in the Makeover for a while as I will be focusing on continued training and competing with Lola and my other OTTB and 2018 Makeover Graduate Birdie, so this trip is extra special. We have one more Hunter/Jumper show next weekend where we will compete in the 2 foot 6 inch division and this week she and I have planned some conditioning rides on the trails with her Scoot Boots. I can’t wait to share how it goes at the Thoroughbred Makeover with you all but one thing I already know, I couldn’t be prouder of Lola no matter how she does.