Recently my trainer and my schedules hadn’t lined up to for a lesson. Monday they finally did! I arrived at the barn ad 4:30 and ended up having to wait. There were some itty bitty kids who were supposed to have shown up an hour earlier for their walk trot lesson that were just getting on then. It’s slightly annoying but I didn’t have anything else planned for the night so I sat waiting.
Brad had just been flatted before I got there so he was eating some hay in his stall. I didn’t want to pull him away from his dinner until the very last moment. I’d just dealt with Scarlet attitude the day before due to riding while it was dinner time. I really didn’t want to have to deal with another horse having attitude.
Sitting in the barn turned out to be quite amusing. I overheard a ton of things from the teens in there. One girl complained that her stomach hurt too much to clean out the hooves of her pony and got another girl to do it. I offered her some antacids but she said she was just really hungry. (WTF? I don’t think I’ve EVER been too hungry to care for my horse on my own) This brought up that another girl hadn’t cleaned Brad’s feed (or the sweat marks) after riding him just before me. She said she’s never cleaned his feet. (KIDS ARE THE WORST SOMETIMES!) Another girl was bemoaning how her horse search wasn’t going anywhere. Her budget was $3000 and the horse needed to be able to go around a 2’9″ course with room to grow. She wasn’t finding anything good and kept shooting down names the other kids suggested with comments of “He/she’s the worst.”
At about ten minutes till I needed to ride, I got Brad all situated and walked out. He’s always got a mare glare going but he had an extra few wrinkles in his nose at being taken out again so soon. I told him he’d have to just suck it up. We warmed up while the tinies finished their walking cooldown. After a bit of walk and trot, we trotted over some ground poles with the goal of maintaining an even pace in between them. We did the same at the canter. It wasn’t perfect the first time through but I got the hang of supporting with both legs just the right amount after that.
Trainer D started us off with a really good exercise that I’m totally going to attempt to implement with Scarlet. We started by going over the lower blue fence in the picture on the left lead. We approached it on the long angle from the top of the arena. My goal was to then turn left, circle around between the grey and top blue fence and approach it again. It ended up with a circular track on the second approach. The first time I went over, I didn’t trust myself or Brad to make the left turn and we ended up awkwardly going around the brown fence to the right. The second time, I looked to the left in midair and steered. We made the turn and it was very nice. We did it to the right with the top blue line coming between the tan fences and then circling around the gray and brown fences.
After getting the warmup fences down, Trainer D laid out a small course. She wanted me to come down the brown line in five strides on the right lead, head up to the upper grey fence, land on the left lead and if it was all going well to go over the pink fence. The pink fence was a little daunting as the filler was a step looking thing with flowers but I knew Brad could do it. We had basically no momentum going into the line first. I wasn’t directing strong enough so Brad wasn’t putting out the effort. I got him moving more forward while doing the right hand turn to the grey fence. We popped over that and I headed for the pink fence. There was no way I wasn’t going to do the reaching exercise. I’m game to hop over ANYTHING if I trust the horse I’m on to do the job. Especially when there is someone else setting the fences up and saying ‘yeah you can do this’. That one came up okay as well.
Trainer D pointed out that I got dead center on the grey fence on my approach. She was pretty happy with that which tickled me. It’s nice to get positive reinforcement on things that I do sometimes.
We did the same line again but added the five stride line coming the other way after the pink jump. We did okay but we stumbled on landing a few times and cut the corners. Brad likes to lean in on turns and is so freaking hard to get to move over when going at speed. Trainer D pointed out that I was approaching the jump great, getting over and then right before Brad lands, I’d drop my chin. This knocked both of us off balance and caused his shoulders to bulge in easier, which made the turns even harder.
With keeping my chin up in mind, I headed to do the fences again. I kept it up and made sure we moved out in the turns to get smoother turns. We landed on the right lead after the grey fence. I asked for a flying change and got it. But that added some spunk to Brad’s step and we charged the pink fence. We took the biggest flyer ever over that fence. I even said “Oh God!” as we were flying. I wasn’t scared of the jump. I felt stable and still had control but it was definitely an “oh shit” moment or a “we’re really doing this” moment. I stayed with him and completed the course. Trainer D said that I did really well coping with the extra long takeoff.
As the final jump, we did the grey to the pink jump again, keeping the pace consistent. It went super well and we called it a night.
Some things Trainer D said was that my hands were following well, I didn’t anticipate the jumps and I did very well keeping him steady with my legs. It’s great to hear all that as I’ve definitely been working on all of that with Scarlet.
I did get to show her some of the videos of Scarlet and I jumping recently. She says he looks really good. I think he does but I’m super biased. I love showing him off to people. I really wish that I had a way to get him over to Trainer D’s for just one lesson with her. It would be so different on him than on Brad. I still love my lessons though. I get great things to practice at home. My goals for the near future are to try the circle exercise to work on long and short approaches having the same pace.
PS. Three years blogging! Woot!