Saturday, August 28, 2021

Time to Unpack

I've started this post... oh... about 5 different times. I have a lot to unpack from Yoshi's week with JT. I'll divide it into separate sections because I can't make all of this cohesive. And I am mostly blogging to chronicle this for my own reference and memory. 

I lessoned Monday and Friday; Monday she warmed him up, Friday it was all me. She did training rides on him Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I took him for a hack around the neighborhood. He was FANTASTIC for his hack, horses ran up to the fence to see him, a whole herd of cows moseyed around, a school bus passed us... biggest deal was actually crossing the white line on the road, kiddo is very aware of changes in color of the ground. 

Yoshi's Emotions:

When JT started introducing the idea of softening through his neck and body and lifting his shoulder and withers, he looked MAD and stressed a lot of the time. His stress is incredibly visible, he opens his lips and sometimes his teeth and chomps on the bit. Now, this is something he's always done: 

Even though he's always done it, it doesn't mean watching it makes me feel any better about what it says about his stress levels. But every ride JT had on him she was fair and quick to praise for the right answer. Monday was much improved from the two rides the week before. And when I lessoned again on Friday, it was even better. He was more consistent but also softer. JT described it as him realizing that going this way felt good to him - he is more comfortable when he is soft and relaxed. 

I did have to let go a bit to make this week successful though. My internal mom felt for him every time he chomped and gnashed and hopped. But he's ended the week a much better horse with the tools to be more comfortable and sound in the long run.This actually does kind of tie in to my next set of baggage to unpack... 

Sending a horse to a trainer

When JT suggested Yoshi coming to stay with her for a few days I accepted without hesitation. And I have the blogging community to thank for part of that. Reading several accounts of bloggers sending their horses to a trainer or having trainer rides really helped normalize it in my head. I have actually not personally known anyone who has sent their horse to a trainer other than to be started under saddle. So ever since I was a teenager, it was always this vague kind of thing that people who couldn't figure out how to ride their own horse did. But watching several bloggers, who are far better and more educated riders than I am, greatly benefit from the professional rides and training, made it much easier to know that this was the right thing to do.

And helped eliminate the pride part of it. I suspect that with JT's instruction I could get Yoshi to the point she did.... in many months or years. With lots of unneeded frustration on his part and my part. But since I am in the admittedly privileged position of being able to send him to her for a week? Heck yes, this benefitted both of us. He was able to understand much more quickly and more fairly what he was being asked to do and what the right answer was.

I am not, and never will be, a professional. I'm not sure why 10 years ago that wouldn't have been obvious to me, but I know at that point I would have felt like I could just get it done myself and that there was a benefit to doing it myself. In reality, there is not. I put all the rides on Leila myself, a testament to her sweet, willing personality. But she did not have an understanding of contact or bend AT ALL. Yoshi ended this week with a new way to move his body. He actually does have an understanding of how to bend now, and I have an understanding of how to ask for that and where he is most likely to struggle. As JT instructed me on him, she was quick to note when he was really trying and to be patient vs. when he was tuning me out and needed a bump with the leg. The feel of those two different things is so subtle to me at this point that I can't imagine trying to teach him while not being able to clearly tell the difference between those two things. To say nothing about the million other subtly timed rewards, aids, and corrections that helped him along this process more smoothly.

Now what.... 

Our ride this morning was not quite magical the way Friday was. I am trying to keep in mind all the rules that I was given: 
  1. The rhythm is mine. I dictate the rhythm of the trot and canter with my body. His tendency is to get quick at the trot, so if that happens I post the rhythm of the trot I want. "Drag your butt out of the saddle like its stuck in molasses". A half-halt with my knee/thigh can be useful too. 
  2. Every aid means something. Don't nag at the walk. He is responsible for maintaining the pace. He doesn't quite fully understand that yet, so reminders are gentle. I don't want to get after him so much with my leg that he drops his back. But the leg is gently on his side, not aiding, unless he slows down. Then I squeeze with my leg, closing it more firmly, and release. 90% of the time he responds appropriately. If he doesn't, it's a quick double squeeze and then a tap tap with the dressage whip. 
  3. He is sensitive to the whip. He does not want to be tapped and he is generally trying very hard to respond to leg aids. So if I go to use it, it's a light flick flick, nothing more firm than that or all I'll do will be make him tense and quick. 
  4. Inside hand UP to aid the bend and speak to the corner of his mouth, NEVER back. 
The canter is still incredibly hard. It was hard on Friday and it was hard today. In order to maintain a steady connection, I have to feel like I'm pumping my arms/upper body at him. Looking at the video, this is clearly not happening. I had my husband practice being the horse's mouth with me last night while sitting on the couch and he said my connection felt "jerky". Oye. So much work to do there. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Lifting the withers

Yoshi and I went back down to JT today. She got on him first, and he clearly remembered his lesson from 2 weeks ago. He was much more willing to lift his withers and bend through his body and neck. It was a lot of looping around the field asking for movement over up and up. He was really lifting his withers and moving when she did this. His hind end looked much more active and more elevated at the trot. She said that often people tried to get that by driving more forward, but he, and a lot of thoroughbreds, had a lot of engine, they just needed to be able to lift the shoulders and withers rather than doing unproductive things with that hind-end activity. She worked him for about 15 minutes, mostly at the walk with a few minutes of trotting thrown in. He did want to bear down and pull still some rather than bending, but was much quicker to give that up this go around.

These were my instructions once I got on him: 
TLDR is inside leg to outside hand

1) Outside rein has to be there and solid. Not pulling, but a constant contact. Reins shorter than I feel like they should be, but elbows more forward. Elbows moving the whole time too. If it felt like he stiffened against the outside rein, particularly the left rein, it was often because I stopped moving my elbows. 

2) Ask for inside bend using inside leg at the girth. If he doesn't move is it because he became disconnected or is it because he's going "CAN'T". If he became disconnected then I need to reconnect the outside rein and my seat to his back and then ask again. If it's the latter then he gets a bump bump with the leg and if that doesn't work then a tap ON the shoulder. 

3) Then tell him where his neck should be. Light inside rein, communicating with the upper corner of his mouth if the soft ring finger squeeze on the rein doesn't work. AKA hand always more UP than down if he's not responding. Which is the opposite of my natural inclination. Ugh. 

4) If he then stiffens against the outside rein (more likey tracking left than right), then counter flex and move him over from the outside leg and rein till he is soft. Then ask him to go back to flexing to the inside. 

5) Once he is soft, allow the neck to straighten somewhat. When he dives down through the withers and base of his neck in 3-4 strides, repeat steps 1-5 again. 

He took a few funky steps at the trot. He felt sound Tuesday and Wednesday; I think the boots were rubbing on the inside of that left fetlock, so he'll be in polos until further notice. Which is fine, we're not jumping until this is his default way of going. JT said she knows he can jump safely, but until he defaults to lifting his neck and withers, he isn't going to do it consistently. 

I've honestly not jumped a horse like him before. Thus far he will go over whatever you point him at. But.... he may fumble and flail and roll over his shoulder in a terrible way. Which, fine, do that in stadium, probably no one will die, but if I want to go jump solid things on him, that's not okay. 

As we were walking back to the barn, JT mentioned wanting to see him a few days in a row. So he will be going to stay with her next Monday through Friday. I work Monday through Wednesday so she'll ride him those days. Then I'll come and lesson on Thursday and Friday and bring him home on Friday. We're both hoping to end the week with a horse who will much more consistently be able to do this: 

I know, I'm reusing this picture, but he just looks so damn good in it

Totally cheating because he was impressed by the ditch, but still! He can jump well! 

Rather than this: 
Yuck (sorry for the quality, zoomed in video screen shot)

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

My crazy thoroughbred

I rode Yoshi today! I opted to ride before turning him out so that the turnout frolicking would be minimized. He was excellent considering he'd just spent a week in a stall. We did have a few moments like this: 

Staring at the drag outside of the ring - good excuse to spook! 

Ms. GY was loading up her horse and Yoshi was very interested. I am also pulling like crazy. 

But for the most part he went like this: 

I thought I was sitting back. HAHAHA. Video is great. 

A little on the forehand and a little quick, but overall very, very pleasant. He's also developing a neck!

Mid-May for comparison

After I rode, I elected to turn him out in boots - his Majyk Equipe cross country boots were the winner - most breathable and also less likely to get sand in them compared to his open fronts? He immediately rolled both sides and really ground the sand in and then wandered off. Ms. GY had taken her horse and her husband's horse down to a lesson, leaving only their mostly retired two older guys. Yoshi tried to engage them in a game but gave up when they completely ignored him and kept eating grass. I caught him after about 15 minutes, removed the boots, brushed all the sand off, fly sprayed him, put on his fly mask, and then reapplied the boots. I'm waiting for his Shoo Fly boots to arrive in hopes that those will protect him enough from knocks that he at least won't break the skin. I really don't love turning him out in boots given the temperature and humidity here, seems like a recipe for skin funk. But also once the other two horses come back he may run around some, so protecting his legs seems most important right now. 

Monday, August 16, 2021


In Yoshi's and my last lesson with JT, right before he started down the mild injury --> cellulitis train, she got on him. We were working on the combination of not pulling on the inside rein/not diving through the inside shoulder/powering more from the outside hind. I struggle more with this tracking right because of my inability to turn my body properly going right and my desire to compensate for that by pulling on the right rein. She ended up getting after him much more tracking left because he DID NOT want to weight that outside (right) hind. He got a bit dramatic about it with some flailing and running sideways when she insisted that the proper response to using her right leg was to engage his right hind. Eventually after he re-installed his brain, he started to understand. It was kind of nice to see that even pissed off his reaction is really pretty rideable. 

I only sat on him for about 10 minutes after, he was pretty tired. But it was amazing how different the feel was. I used the right leg and BAM more activity. So now it is on me to make sure that when I use leg I mean it and reinforce a response if it isn't instant and active. Otherwise he'll need this re-education again, and it will be all my fault. I voiced my concerns with replicating the feel at home and JT recommended I come down the next two days in a row. We had that all set up... but then Friday happened. And yeah... all downhill from there. 

I got to ride Mr. GY's horse this morning under Ms. GY's guidance. He's an 11 YO OTTB and has much more of an education than Yoshi. It was actually a great follow up to my last lesson. She said he would like to pretend he doesn't know what you're talking about when you ask him to get off the inside shoulder and carry himself, but if you insist then he absolutely will/can. I practiced the light leg then immediate tap if he didn't listen. He responded really well to that and then moved over from the light leg the rest of the ride. I was playing catch up a bit though, every time we changed directions he'd dive onto the inside and try to motorcycle which I would then correct. Ideally I'd be able to keep that from happening at all. Obviously plenty to work on still, but he and Ms. GY together made excellent teachers.  

Tomorrow Yoshi comes off stall rest. I plan to pull his bandage in the morning, ride him lightly, and then turn him out. He'll be going out in boots in case he decides to galivant to celebrate his freedom. Assuming he feels good and that the truck is functional, I'm going to go down to JT on Thursday and Friday to pick up where we left off. 

And now for an "most unflattering picture" comparison. This is the way he stands when he sees something interesting/scary in the distance. Obviously in the May picture being wet is highlighting his ribs, but either way there is definite improvement in both weight and muscle. Stall rest + fat supplement + lunch are finally catching up to us. 

August 14th

May 1st

Friday, August 13, 2021

Losing Privileges

Yoshi has been tolerating stall rest... moderately well. Better than I expected to be honest though. I am a terrible owner and have not really adhered to the 15 minutes of hand grazing per day. Knowing that the soft tissue structures were fine underneath of the bandage and that the point of stall rest was to keep the bandage, and therefore the leg and wound, clean and dry, I elected to do self-grazing in the barnyard. It worked fine Wednesday. Thursday I did his stall super early in the morning while he stood oddly quietly in the cross ties. Ms. GY came out while finishing her coffee and we both marveled at the baby thoroughbred just standing there, not dancing, not moving a hair. Maybe he was still asleep? It was still pretty dark and early. I then left to visit my dad for the day. Per my request, Ms. GY tried self-grazing in the afternoon after the grass had dried. He promptly "lost his privileges of self grazing" according to her text (aka rolled in the arena, reared, and took off around the barn), so she hand grazed him for 30 minutes then and 30 minutes after the sun went down and the other horses were turned out for the night. 

Today I let him out while I cleaned his stall and he only did one canter loop. I walked out of the stall to tell him to woah and he gave me the funniest look. He was absolutely begging to be chased and played with. I could tell if I took a few more steps towards him he was going to take off. So I gently told him woah a few more times and brought him a handful of treats. He refocused on eating and settled down to graze for a while. I am trying to balance the management of his cellulitis with his desire to potentially crib. Every once in a while he grabs the wood on the stall like he might. He usually then does something weird like put the entire board in his mouth instead of cribbing, but I'm very conscious of the fact that he might in fact like to be a cribber. I hung stall toys (empty milk jugs with treats to make them rattle) and he has free choice timothy in his stall, but still, being separated from his herd and stuck in a stall might be the thing to push him over the edge to that habit. I haven't started him on trazodone, mostly because of my laziness in getting it, but have kept that in mind if he becomes too much in the stall. As I type this, I realize I'm going to have major regrets if he starts cribbing and I haven't put him on trazodone. 

Given his... uhm... unsanctioned turnout activities, I had to change the bandage this morning, 2 days instead of the 3 his doctor said it could probably go. It was slipping a bit and the elastikon at the bottom had come undone. The leg looks much, much better than when I dropped him off on Tuesday (I have zero pictures, I was too busy panicking). I forgot to take a picture today until I had put nitrofurazone on the wound. 

He was really good for the bandage change. Granted I did it after 1.5 hours of grazing. But after I put his fly mask on and smeared fly spray on his nose where they kept landing, he was very still and good while I got the multiple layers onto him. 

So pretty in this vet wrap - turquoise might be his color? 

Today is day 3 of stall rest, which also means the final day of his IV gentamicin. 33mL off the needle into a good, but not perfect horse makes me more than a little twitchy, so I won't be sorry to see the end of that tonight. His doctor gave us the option of going home with an IV catheter in place, but given that this:

is his favorite way to stand in his stall, I didn't think the catheter was a very good idea... perfect height to rub it on the top board there. He's being very easy with his SMZs and eating them broken up in his grain. I don't even have to make it a fine powder, just smallish chunks, and he is eating it right down. 

His stall is also not awful. He pees A TON. But I knew that. He is the world's best drinker, so it all has to go somewhere. He mostly leaves his poop in piles in the back. Not as tidy as Zinger was, but I have cleaned MUCH worse stalls. He only sort of grinds his hay into his bedding, and if you leave him for just a bit without a fresh flake, he will mostly clean it up. 

He is going to be so pretty after this week of stall rest - no new bites, rain rot healing up, maybe a bit of an improvement to his sun bleaching! Living out 20 hours a day with 4 friends is 100% the happiest he can be mentally, but there are definitely perks to stall life and solo turnout. 

I think it's just because I'm so relieved this isn't a septic tendon sheath, but I'm having fun getting to know this side of him. How is he for IV meds? Oral meds? Bandaging? Living in a stall? Catching when he is on minimal turnout? Handling in general when he is on minimal turnout? 

We dropped the truck off last night for an appointment this morning; the Ford dealership was not encouraging that we would get it back today. At least I got him to the hospital and now I'm not missing any good lesson/travelling time anyways. I'm also off work until Wednesday, so there aren't many better times for my husband and I to have to share one car. I had also been wondering if Yoshi and I needed a break mentally and/or physically. We took May fairly easy, but June and particularly July were pretty busy months. Lots of hauling to new places, lots of new concepts under saddle, and just lots of work in general. It's also the really awful part of summer. Temps up to low to mid-90s with awful humidity. Plus the banana spiders are out right now. The combination of them and the mosquitoes and yellow flies definitely put a damper on trail riding. I would much rather have a mandated break now than in a few months when the weather is perfect for riding. 

Friendly banana spider - it's not even that the spiders themselves are awful, but if you see that sticky yellow part of the web right behind her... yeah... if you walk/ride through that you are peeling that substance off of you for the next... several hours? Also, they are not small spiders. So the idea of acquiring them on your helmet/face/arms etc is not super appealing. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Good morning texts

Yoshi had been steadily improving from his... Unknown injury. Until this morning. When I saw a missed call and a text from Ms. GY "Hey it might be time for an ultrasound, the leg is swollen and watm again. I put them all out but we can separate if you want to." 

Crap. Yesterday the swelling was localized to his medial sesamoid and he was sound on the lunge. I had actually laid in bed last night talking to my husband about whether I should have had the vet out already or not. We decided if he stopped improving then that would be the right time to have them out. 

Yesterday. Weird little wound pre-dates Friday. Has one on both fetlocks. Could be related to this whole mess though.

This morning? Dead lame at the walk and the whole leg was blown up. I called both vets that I use and one was able to come out. He was febrile at 102.5 and had an SAA of 1970. X-rays looked fine. Good thing she had February to compare to, because his rads aren't exactly what you'd call clean and when you're looking for osteomyelitis subtle changes matter. Ultrasound... Looked like fluid build up around his tendon sheath. She was worried about a septic tendon sheath and asked if referral was an option. Fortunately, the best $480 I've spent all year was on insuring him, so yep. Especially after being asked for my CC info for the $2k deposit for hospitalization when I called to let the hospital know we were coming. My vet said we could try to treat this in the field but she recommended bringing him in so they could do cytology of the fluid and see if it was septic. Not spend 5 days treating it like it was and then get back an answer from a sent off cytology.  

To get him to the hospital, I had to go retrieve the truck from my husband's work and reconnect the battery. Disconnecting it any time the stop is going to be longer than 45 minutes is our temporary solution for the stupid computer problem. It really only adds 2 minutes and a bit of anxiety about not touching certain pieces of metal to other pieces. I talked to my BFF equine vet friend on the drive to the clinic. She was not exactly rosy about the prognosis for a septic tendon sheath. She did say that she felt too often they were just treated as cellulitis and then caught too late. So bringing him in was the right thing even if it still wasn't great news.

I actually took him back to the same Dr as March. My vet spoke highly of him and he already had rads from March to compare to. He was in surgery when I arrived so I spoke to the intern and a tech about Yoshi's case and then unhooked the trailer and headed home. I kept myself busy helping Ms. GY rake and mow, but after 3 hours couldn't take it anymore. I called and they connected me to his Dr pretty quickly. He had sampled the fluid around the tendon sheath and it wasn't septic on cytology, but he cultured it and put antibiotics in anyways. He found a small subcutaneous abscess under that wound on the fetlock but couldn't get any fluid out of it. He felt it was just bad cellulitis with a weird pocket there but thought it should resolve with antibiotics and banamine. Thank goodness! I could have picked him up tonight, but he said they could keep him and put him on IV antibiotics for the night, and I could come get him the next day. Since he was already there, I figured that was the better route. So he's spending the night there on gentocin and penicillin, and I'll go get him tomorrow. I'm so so glad it's not a septic tendon sheath, now I just have to figure out how to keep him from knocking his fetlocks... 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Alright, three and we're done, right?

In order of sadness/stress that these things are causing me...

1) This morning went out to the barn to find this: 

Pretty lame on it, very hot, too swollen to palpate tendons/ligaments. Ugh. Cold hosing, ice wraps, bute. Put poultice on this afternoon after he'd been iced a few times (by Ms. GY, the more time he's there the more I love them so much). He promptly tried to eat it off. He's out in the very grassy barnyard by himself so no one else chases him around. We're letting him stay out and walk around and it's been raining off/on, so I can't wrap it right now. Plus his behavior with his fly wraps and the poultice makes me think he'd eat his wraps... 

Both my regular vets are out of town. I spoke with the vet on call and we decided she'd come out tomorrow if it was more swollen or he was more lame, but that for now squeezing him in between the 4 more emergent calls she had didn't make a lot of sense. 

He's so damn cute. Gently sniffing at Tank (who is also so cute!)

2) Truck has parasitic drain on the battery. Got up this morning to get it in to my mechanic at 7 AM after working until midnight. He called and told me this was something with the gem module or the computer and it should be under warranty with Ford still, so to take it to them. First available appointment is Friday, so that's scheduled now. This truck is the most expensive vehicle I've ever bought, by a factor of 3x. It's a 2019 with only 58K miles (thankfully not more than that... it's a 60K, 5 year warranty). Not super happy right now. 

3) Trailer had a flat tire. This was actually not all that bad because I aired it up last week, noticed it was low again, and Ms. GY and I changed it while it was in the pasture without horses in it. I'm just counting it in my list of 3 things so I can be done now. Plus the tires were new in the fall and while they did patch it, the screw in it was close to the sidewall and they're not sure it will hold. It was good practice in changing a trailer tire in a low pressure (get it?? sorry...) situation. 

We got a tire in the car patched at the same time because there was a nail in a tire that the mechanic had pointed out when we got the brakes done. Hadn't ever lost pressure though, so I'm not sure we did the right thing because it was also close to the sidewall and they're not sure that will hold either. 

Pico hopes this means I will stay home more to provide my lap as a bed for her royal highness

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

July Wrap Up

I am now looking back on my declarations of not jumping this summer with some amusement. We did get clearance from both JT and my vet regarding moving forward over fences though.

July we had: 
  • 23 rides
    • 2 dressage lessons - major improvements in his canter and walk to trot transitions. Work in progress on differences within gaits, trot to canter transitions, and maintaining that new awesome canter! 
    • 4 jumping lessons in which we started to teach him a new, better way to jump
    • 1 cross country schooling in which he jumped ALL THE THINGS 

    • 1 trail ride away from home where we got eaten alive by MONSTER mosquitoes and decided to quit trail riding off property until the fall 
  • 1 massage - saddles still fit and he's building muscle really nicely 
  • Some weight loss due to increasing work load 
    • Now we get LUNCH! 1.5 quarts of Tribute Kalm Performer 
    • Fat supplement top dressing AM and PM 
    • Another example of how much I LOVE my barn owner. I'd noticed a bit of weight loss and JT had remarked as well. I mentioned it to Ms. GY asking what she thought we should add and she said she had been meaning to ask me if I cared if he got lunch because she noticed too and "I don't like skinny horses in my barn"! 
  • Another successful farrier appointment - Yoshi did nuzzle the top of his head a few times and he gently tried to shoo him away. When that didn't work he bopped him with his elbow. Yoshi's face was SO OFFENDED. I died laughing. Farrier said he was very happy I wasn't offended and that many owners were. Nope, not at all. I am so positive Yoshi would use teeth next, I am not at all offended. 
  • Another month with a HAPPY and SOUND horse 

Monday, August 2, 2021

Cross Country Schooling

Wednesday my friend and I headed out to Sweet Dixie South for our first cross country schooling with JT. We hacked around at the walk for a little bit first. Yoshi decided that the white gravel ground near the ditch and a few other jumps was horrifying and made of lava. He also gave the water a hairy eyeball. Possibly because it was water, possibly because it was surrounded by the poisonous white gravel. We looped around it all and then started our warm up in the usual way - bending, moving the inside shoulder out, maintaining an even tempo. We hopped over the ditches first. Yoshi had previously stepped into a ditch at Majestic Oaks when we schooled there, then the next time around he hopped it nicely, that's how unconcerned he was. Sweet Dixie's tend to be much scarier for some reason, so I was not surprised when he stopped. I didn't fling my upper body at him, but I wasn't exactly riding the way JT wanted me to - hands forward and steady leg on without quickening the tempo. At least for once it wasn't a jumping ahead problem though. She grabbed his rein and led him over. He nearly hopped on top of her, prompting her to remark that every time she did that she thought about how she probably shouldn't. I get why she does though, it's pretty darn effective!

Then we trotted the ditch... back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. She encouraged me to drop the reins to the buckle, maintain the trot rhythm with my posting, and still give forward with my hands. The first few times he rushed away and we halted on a straight line then got lots of praise. Her theory is that they are running away from something scary when they do that, so it should be stopped fairly quickly. Eventually he was pretty ho hum about it so we took a break. Next she pointed us at the T/P ditch (granted it is part of a prelim combo, but still!). He stopped again the first time. I asked what I should be doing differently. She said nothing, that green horses with ditches were one time that she didn't care if they stopped. I reassured him, turned away and headed towards it again. This time he hopped over it. We did it probably 3-4 more times till he was pretty relaxed about it again.

Then we moved on to an entry log up a hill to an entry coop. He hesitated 2 strides out from the coop, I closed my leg, and he smoothly responded with forward and a lovely hop over the coop. It felt amazing to feel that hesitation, to respond correctly, and get a willing response to the correction. 

Next we headed over to the water. In spite of his willingness to walk in puddles, he spooked at it and needed my friend's horse as a lead. It only took two passes by before he followed in though and then he gradually became more and more confident and trotted and cantered through. We put together a mini course with an entry log, looping back to the water to an entry coop, circling right to a BN coop, then going back through the water to the BN part B - a tiny rolltop a few strides out of the water. The first two times through I let him get long and flat and he rolled over his shoulder over the rolltop. It's a horrendous feeling when he jumps like that cross country. The jumps are tiny and he's not coming too close with his knees, but it certainly is not something that I want to keep up. So we circled through the water... and jumped it the same way again. We circled through one more time and then finally got the bouncy uphill canter that made it a much better jump. 

JT told me that I needed to be able to get him off my hand faster and if that meant a stronger half halt and then RELEASE then that's what needed to happen. We headed up a hill and put together one last course - trot downhill to an entry log, loop around to head back up hill over the BN log, back downhill to the entry log by the water, circle uphill to a BN bench, then over a BN roll top. I felt like I half-halted SO dramatically on the way in to the roll top, but watching the video it really isn't that dramatic. I didn't quite release forward after though, so she had us circle and do it one last time before ending. 

I'm SO proud of him. He jumped every jump and didn't really think about refusing anything! He also did the ditches AND water with only a little encouragement. It was a really cool feeling that when I rode properly he was jumping really confidently and with good form.

Take aways:
  • I NEED to work on my fitness. I was exhausted by the end (it was 89 degrees when we finished, with 80% humidity...) and wasn't able to ride as effectively near the jumps or stay in my galloping position between the jumps. I don't think it is an aerobic conditioning issue given my current running workouts, but I think it is a muscles for riding and galloping issue. I see lots of trotting 2 point in my future...
  • Ride him like we're jumping stadium jumps and he will jump like we're teaching him to. Chase him down at the jump and he'll still go, but in a fairly unsafe way. 
  • Ride forward away from the jumps in galloping position. Put butt down in saddle and shoulders back about 8-10 strides out to get the bouncy canter.