We warmed up and then started circling over the entry, then BN, then novice, then training warm up jumps. We got a fantastic, forward spot to the orange and green striped training coop. We got a tight spot to the wedge a couple of times, but as JT said it felt honest, the long spot would've been really really long, so he was being careful by fitting the extra stride in.
We headed over to the ditches next and did the BN ditch then N half coffin. Then we did the T ditch by itself headed away from the other jumps and he was great. He stuttered on the way back through, not at the ditch, but at the many logs after it that caught his eye, but we made it over the log still. We did it once more with a similar, but less dramatic result, and then took a break while Ms. GY went through a few different options. The next time through I really focused on riding forward and positive and it went so much better, he powered over the ditch and then did the 3 strides to the log after, good boy!!
Next we went to the banks. We did the N house to bank, then came back down the T bank and made a wide loop over the T brush roll top and then the T/P down bank. I was pretty nervous about the brush roll top, it seemed every bit a max training jump. We had decided to jump it uphill. It was flagged downhill from the show last weekend, but it was fairly early in the day and JT and I were worried about the wet grass/pine needles/slipping factor coming down it, especially if he decided to celebrate after. So uphill to it we went. He seemed a bit surprised on the take off stride and knocked it with a hind leg, but it again felt very honest and like he was trying hard to do the right thing.
We finished on the water, first cantering in and jumping up the smallest bank. I knew JT was going to point us through the training line after, so I rode that up bank thinking about jumping a jump a few strides after. He kinda tripped coming out of the water though, but he's really a quick and catty horse, so it didn't feel like much. Next we went through the water and then out over an airy roll top about two strides from the water's edge. He was a bit spooky coming up to it, but still went. As I patted him after he spooked/lept over dead grass where a jump had been sitting. Closest I came to coming off all day! Then we took a break while Ms. GY schooled through. JT and I both felt that he really benefited from his thinking time at the ditches, and it seemed similar at the water.
Then JT pointed us through the whole training line - starting with a duplicate of the brush roll top from near the banks, turning right over the airy roll top into the water, up the training bank, and then 3 strides to a wedge with brush on top. He jumped the shit out of the roll top. It felt AMAZING! We turned, on the wrong lead, but JT shouted to ignore it, and came down over the airy roll top into the water. As we went up the bank I felt him ask if we were doing the wedge. I said yes, and he said okay and went forward beautifully to jump the wedge. GOOD BOY!!!
Ms. GY and I were both THRILLED with our ponies this morning. They both did everything we could have asked (and more than I knew we were going to ask) with confidence. It was such an awesome morning, I'm pretty convinced JT is the world's best trainer. She gets just as happy and excited about these good positive schools as we do.
Ben got hosed a couple of times, ice boots on for 10 minutes, and then we trailered home. I've set a goal of icing him after every hard work. He's 12, and I would like him to be sound for a long time to come. Ten minutes with the boots on was a very reasonable amount of time to hang out, let them cool off, and clean up the rest of our gear for the ride home.
On the topic of soundness, we put him back in pads when he got his feet done on Wednesday. His farrier felt his feet looked great and he didn't necessarily need them. I don't disagree, but after his abscess saga from this spring/early summer, I would love to do everything I can to prevent that. He also said the only downside was $. If $50 is enough to help decrease the risk of the woe is me spring, I'm happy to spend it!
We're signed up for the schooling day at Sweet Dixie South next Friday. Doing a 0.9m and 1.0m round. I asked JT which I should sign up for and she said one of each. I told her 1.0m sounded big and she sent me the above picture. No guarantees we won't crash through a two stride, but I'm going to try to keep the positive feeling we had today!