He started out coming off the trailer a bit silly, trying to spin around to look at the Harley motorcycle (why??) that was going across the cross country course before his feet had finished coming off the ramp. About a month ago we had a session of feet in/out 1 at a time with pausing for treats and praise in between because of his tendency to want to barrel backwards when he gets off. It is by far not the worst I've seen, but it may be time for another session because all I can imagine as he tries to dance on the ramp is him stepping off the side and cutting himself on the edge.
True to course though, he then settled down beautifully. He just stared, high headed out to the cross country course for a while, watching and observing, before relaxing and starting to eat his hay again.
We started our school at the water. He balked for a second then went in and paused in the middle to sniff at the water. We hung out while JT finished up her previous lesson with two riders also on young horses. It was a lot of fun to watch them loop over some jumps. One of them was only on his 3rd or 4th jump school so was out to get some experience over solid obstacles to help him figure out how to put his front and back half together. I love that she can tell exactly what each horse will benefit from, and this young horse was certainly understanding his body better.
We warmed up near the water after they finished. Most of the place is on a hill and this area was no exception, so it was great practice maintaining his balance on the slope and still asking for transitions regardless of whether we were headed up or down. We started with a few entry fences pointed in and out of the water and he did not hesitate at all about getting his feet wet a second time. He did try once as we headed back in the direction of the trailers between fences take the bit and grab and run. I bumped him off my hand hard with one rein and circled him for a second. He responded really well and didn't try that again the whole time we were out, even when I asked him for more forward while in two point between fences. It was almost like he just thought maybe that's what he was supposed to do and after I told him that was the wrong answer he went "well, okay then, I guess that's not what leg means anymore." He is SUCH a good boy.
Then we moved on from the water up the hill to the ditch. We trotted it no problem and he stayed nice and soft as I stayed nice and soft with my hands. Then we added a BN house on a bit of a bending line from the ditch, it was painted white and blue stripes and apparently can be a little spooky, but he didn't think it was any big deal. Next we added a BN roll top after the ditch headed in the other direction.
Our next mini course looped down hill to start over the first fence on course. They were already out decorating so it had some fun fall things on it, but Yoshi did not care at all. We hopped over the BN coop and then circled back around to the last jump on course, the BN bench. After that she had us take the entry rail - these jumps are notoriously spooky for some reason, each level has large bushes on either side that mark the different levels, but it is all rails with shrubs under them just higher at each part. It didn't seem like he was spooky to it, but we got a chip and a sticky feel over it.
|Red mare over BN part of that fence|
I LOVE training with JT because even though we were quite far away I could hear in my head that I needed to gallop him forward, so I did that before sitting up and creating the bouncy canter we needed to take the BN... table? I'm not sure what you call this jump - here's the red mare doing it last December
|I love Yoshi, but my gosh do I miss her. They are SO different. She was 15.2h and just bouncy and light naturally with one heck of an amazing jump.|
He jumped that REALLY well and we continued up the hill to jump the N coop, which he also jumped really well. Our next course started over the N coop then looped over a BN fence and came downhill to the BN trakehner. About 3 strides out from the trakehner I felt him hesitate a bit as he assessed the fence. I closed my leg and he stepped forward nicely to flow over it. The video is courtesy of JT driving the golf cart, coaching, AND videoing. She's amazing!
We then did a course starting with the trakehner, to the BN #2 (I forget what it was) and then to the N #3 (also unsure what it was). The first time he rolled over his shoulder some and got a bit deep because I was tired and not getting him up and bouncy before the fences. I got myself together the second time and he jumped much better. We added the BN up bank to the end of it which we kind of stumbled up because I jumped ahead of him. She had us do that a couple more times until I got the bouncy trot in and he jumped up nicely. We then came down the BN bank and I made the mistake of saying how much I hate down banks. So JT made us circle over the N down bank twice then the T/P down bank. Yoshi is a PRO and actually does down banks really nicely with no large leap or drama, so they felt pretty smooth and good.
|Pretty proud of this picture|
The whole experience was AMAZING. I felt like I knew how to answer questions if he wasn't quite perfect to things. He was going along asking what was next, which jump, how fast, etc. And he felt confident and happy. The difference between this and February is absolutely amazing. He feels balanced and safe. He is an incredibly willing, kind, generous horse who just wants to know how to do his job and now that we've been able to teach him how to go in a much softer, safer way, he is just SO fun to ride. JT has made SUCH a HUGE difference in both of us, I am so, so glad that I contact her in June.
Other than riding Intro C (I HATE that test, please just let me ride either BN test... Intro C is not an easier test), I'm looking forward to this weekend!!