Then we moved on to a slightly wider version of the right "S" turn from last week. Which actually went better this time around, I was focused on pushing him through the turn not pulling. From there we moved to a left hand roll back then right bending line to a two stride. We landed on the right lead after the first jump and took WAY too long to trot to swap leads. He does flying changes, but about half the time they are not clean, so we're trying to only do simple changes. This theme of taking WAY too long to trot continued throughout the lesson. I am the problem here, I still am struggling to SIT the F down after the jump and ride. I was much better about adding leg than last week, but butt in the saddle and shoulders back is still totally a work in progress. The second go of the wonder bit (turns out that's not what it is called, see the end of this post) and figure 8 felt great still, so I'm currently shopping. Just enough lift to help me get him back much easier, although clearly I still have to ride so that we can do a trot transition...
After the two stride line, both of us were kind of off in la-la land, him shooting forward a bit and me not asking him to do any differently until, oh, I don't know, 10 strides later. So after going through the first short course a couple of times, JT added a 90 degree left turn after the two stride line to her unicorn jump. I gave her quite a look and she said she was sure we could do it. What do ya know, actually having to do something rather than yahoo around, I sat down after the two stride and turned and he responded and we did it! He loooooves to spook at the unicorn jump and she added a left hand rail to prevent the left drift, so he sucked back a few strides out, but leg went on and he powered forward. We did it again to smooth it out some and it went really well. So then she added a right hand turn to a one stride line. The first time through I choked a bit, but again he went forward and took care of it. So the second time I helped him out more and actually sat up in between the fences and supported.
We had repeatedly gotten funky distances to the two stride though, I didn't quite trust he was going to go from the long spot, so I was holding to the chip. JT paused for a minute to describe seeing distances. You spend the first part of a turn building the canter you want to jump out of, but by the time you are finishing the turn, your eyes are glued on the top rail of the first fence and you are finding the distance and then riding to it. That riding to it may mean adding a bit of power to move up to the longer spot, or sitting up and compressing a bit (still with power) to the tighter spot so that neither spot is that much of an adjustment the last two strides. Before she told me this, I would have sworn to you that I was staring at the top rail of the in jump the WHOLE time. But... yeah... totally was not. When I did do that, it was SUCH A DIFFERENCE. Like, I saw my spot and I rode him confidently forward to it. WOAH! I guess I'd been flipping back and forth between the in and out jump and also not just using "soft eyes" and peripheral vision to see around the turn, but flicking back and forth to ride the turn.
I think in a horse like him that needs confidence from his rider, feeling that difference in me made a huge difference in him. I can also only assume that it builds confidence to get it right rather than be kicked forward into the wrong spot.
Overall, it was an awesome, confidence building lesson. He felt great and I made some major improvements from last week. He was doing so much less of the left drift as well, it was reassuring. JT had mentioned last week she didn't know if it was weakness, habit, or.. and kinda trailed off... yeah, I don't want to consider if it is a soundness thing either, thank you! So it was great to feel that as he is getting stronger, we are able to correct it, meaning it is most likely strength, habit, and bad riding.
There is ZERO media though, boo, I still need to start getting Ms. GY to whip out the camera to record some. JT is pretty good about getting some when she can and is remarkably talented at filming and coaching (and driving a golf cart), but obviously usually focuses most on coaching rather than filming!
I'm going to try to make it down to JT again on Friday after Ben is a demo horse for an acupuncture lab. And then Ms. GY and I are planning on going again next Monday. After that we'll try to get out to Majestic (still unsure if this will be the CT or just schooling their stadium ring) and then do the Sweet Dixie schooling days at the end of the month.
As I started shopping for the bit right after posting this, the term "wonder bit" was not giving me at all what I wanted. A thorough browse through Dover and harassing of JT tells me that it is actually a Nunn Finer Oval Link Shaped Mouthpiece Cartwheel bit (dunno why I didn't come up with that on my own). I'm not sure why/when I decided it was called a wonder bit, but the beauty below with the mouth full of a name is now on its way to me.