Spring weather in Texas is always absurd in March and April.  Is it hot, is it cold?  Blankets on at night but then whipped off in the morning.  Flies and mosquitoes are starting to swarm while we’re still wearing light jackets, so it’s time to dig out the fly sheets again. 

Trail System / Poor Tecate's face is covered with bug bites from the turnout
In March, I did hit the trail for the first time in a very long time - not on Mae but on Tecate, the little chestnut quarab that we have at our barn.  He’s a brave little guy who was game to canter down the long stretches and jump fallen trees - really he’ll jump anything you point him at.  Sadly, Tecate is up for sale but I’m excited to see where he goes.  He’s going to win some rider a ton of ribbons, this is the same horse who won reserve champion at his first jumper show ever with a 13 year-old rider.

Can't stop laughing when I jump with Tecate
Because of all the traveling we did at the end of the month, I didn’t end up doing a ton of lessons in March but on the plus side, Mae spent a lot of time with my trainer.  We had our first jump lesson of the month last night and I was a bit anxious, as its been awhile since we’ve jumped together and you all remember that rodeo.  We did a quick, light warm up during which Mae was super lazy and relaxed (off to a good start).  To summarize the lesson in a word: WOW.  It was like riding a different horse. 

We started by trotting a respectable crossrail, which I eyed warily but she hopped over like it was no big deal.  It was the first moment EVER that I thought “maybe this horse has finally started to figure out this whole jumping thing.”  After trotting over it a few times, my trainer asked - why don’t you canter her over the jump? which we’ve only done once before as she tends to build on the energy of the canter and rocket off.  You guys, it was absolutely lovely.  She held a very nice, consistent canter that she kept up to the fence, and on the backend she didn’t run off like she has been.  After the jump, I held the outside rein back for a two count, released and it’s like her brain caught the cue and she immediately slowed her pace to back to the nice canter she had before the fence.  We ended up cantering and jumping a five jump course - all verticals including a line.  She came back to me every time I asked her to, and I didn’t ever feel like we were out of control.

We think there are a few keys to Mae's success this past month.  Firstly, the gag bit is working-ish, especially when I remember to keep my hands up.  It doesn’t really help with steering, but she listens to its cues and respects it more than she did the regular snaffle.  Secondly, my trainer said she’s been working gymnastics with her constantly and that’s really what’s made the biggest difference with her jumping.  Her form over fences still needs some work, but I love that she’s soft and adjustable on the flat.  We earned a round of applause and high fives after the lesson, and I’m so glad I didn’t quit on her prospects as a jumper.  She’s a little jumping bean now and everyone is excited to see how this mare progresses.

Mae is still continuing to fill out (I recently bought her a new girth) and I want to attribute part of that to the flaxseed we started her on two months ago.  Since we put her on it, her coat has gotten incredibly shiny and soft, and she’s been able to keep weight on and seen a noticeable increase of muscle in her hindquarters.  The 20 lb bag of Omega Horseshine that I ordered initially should last us at least another month, however I’ve already ordered another bag off SmartPak.  My trainer saw how well Mae was responding to it and has put all five of her horses on organic flaxseed that she finds at Sprouts.  It’s supposedly cheaper there but I haven’t confirmed it yet.

I’m very happy with Miss Mae and have so many thoughts about her volatile progress in the past year.  She turns six in a week and I’m finally optimistic about the grown horse that she’s turning into.