While warming up he was really behind my leg, just sticky and spooky as a consequence. Then I realized I hadn't put on spurs. Derp. I added those and he felt just delightful. We warmed up over a BN hanging log to a table, uphill to a house. He was a very good boy for all of that other than a hard spook left after landing from the table. Then log stack, downhill to a wedge, circle round to a LARGE feed wagon, through a keyhole. The wedge got iffy. I was riding him in his usual cross country bit, a french link three ring elevator, reins on the second ring, but we had added a curb chain. Which I could DEFINITELY tell and occasionally he protested a bit. I was trying soooo hard to be soft, but the wedge he was wiggling both ways and so I was riding in the back seat and never caught up to him over the jump. Sorry buddy.
We then tackled a corner to the keyhole, circle around and go through the water, then turn left and come over the roll top at the waters edge into the water. The combination of the two of us has an issue with corners. It was what he ran out at at Rocking Horse back in April and my mind can't figure them out geometrically (yes it has been explained, no it doesn't help me magically develop the mental image of them and lines over them). We jumped it VERY much on the flat face and he wacked the back part of the corner on the way down because he was surprised by it. The keyhole turn I was botching pretty badly, but he was gamely doing it. The roll top into water we kept getting to tight. A couple of times because he was chipping, but a couple of times because that was the spot that was there. Ooof. We got the corner better on the second try, but I created the same rough ride to the keyhole.
Then we did roll top, through water, up bank, to train. The first time up the bank he tripped/stumbled up, which seems to be a repeating thing for us too, but we got over the BN sized train. The second time was better but the roll top in got worse. We moved on to the line in reverse - train, right hand turn to down bank, through water out over roll top. He was sticky at the down bank, but went with kicking. I actually liked the ride out of the water - hands wide, funnel and out over the roll top - he probably appreciated that I was NOT pulling on his face.
Next up was the coffin. It is pretty spooky, the ditch is at the bottom of a pretty steep hill and tends to surprise horses. Our two horses were no exception. After they were cantering over it nicely, we added in ditch, two strides uphill to roll top. Oof. Ben struggled with two strides in there, it is HARD to hop the ditch then power uphill in those two strides. We finally got it and I did very much appreciate my added brakes because a couple of times he landed and took off because he was spooking at what had just happened. I was able to nicely sit back, quietly stop, then praise him like crazy. We then did the whole coffin - roll top, two strides downhill to ditch, two strides uphill to wedge. GOOD BOY!!!!
JT pointed out at one point that I have to choose my battles with him spooking at things. While galloping between fences, I have to let him relax and just gallop along. If he spooks, he spooks. He doesn't tend to do the spinning, launch you off his back spooks, just bulge, pick up the pace, snort, stare etc. If I am relaxed and letting him breathe he is less likely to do that. After the coffin I practiced that a little bit and just took him on a tour around the field, softly galloping. He was very, very good. But also probably very, very tired at that point.
We iced at the trailer for a bit and then headed home. He got his shoes redone that evening. My farrier pointed out if we're going to keep him in hind shoes, he'll need pads added for the health of his feet. Alright, what's $50 more... LOL. We didn't add them last night because he was short on time and I was digesting the extra cash, but we will next go round.
|He's just so cute and earnest|
I had pre-typed the above following the schooling - I can document better when it is fresh, but then in our jump lesson on Thursday, things fell apart. We warmed up alright, but once the jumps got bigger he started stopping left and right. And once he was stopping, I lost confidence and my reaction stopped being to put the spurs in when I felt hesitation, and instead to ride like he was going to stop. JT hopped on him and felt like he was not himself. The last stride he was hollowing and waiting for something to hurt. He was going with her, but no surprise there. I suspected saddle fit because he has been pretty sore of the left side of his back. We pulled the saddle off, and sure enough, light finger pressure elicited spasms of the longissimus muscle all the way down the left side of his back to the lumbar area. Oof. My saddle is still off getting panels replaced, so I'd been riding him in a friend's saddle that she uses on her TB as a second best fit. The fitter is 5 minutes down the road, so he came over and assessed. He looked at her saddle, looked at Ben's back, and took more pictures. Two problems - still too wide in the tree, so it is pinching right under the head nail and then not making contact anywhere else - and also too wide in the panels, so it is sitting off the muscles it should and causing pain.
I'm kicking myself because I knew he'd been sore on his back to the curry, but JT rode him in this saddle while she had him two weeks ago and he got a good report from his chiro vet on his back, so I thought it would be okay. UGH! I put the health and comfort of my horse second to training and competition goals and am now paying the price. It is so hard to narrow down which saddle it is though - is it my dressage saddle that isn't a good fit either, but looks passable? Or is it the jump saddle we've been borrowing? Oye. My saddle will be back Nov 9th or so. Hopefully it will be right, but we're all still skeptical, fitter included (I guess skeptical would be the wrong word for him, but he knows it may take several iterations to get it right).
We scratched the show this weekend and dropped to novice at the show Nov 5-6. He's getting a few days off with bute and massage. I packed his hind feet with Magic Cushion too in case the new hind shoes had any role in it. I'm going to test a few saddles today and if I can find one he likes and he is NOT sore on his back, we may try to jump Wednesday or Thursday and see if we can go to Rocking Horse. But if he is still saying no or is sore, then that is out too.