Side note, I need to make the time to do monthly wrap ups again. I like to be able to look back at those and then pick out specific posts. But, time and all...
Wednesday Ben got plain shoes put back on. Thursday I brought him out to lesson with JT's saddle with fancy half pad. He was not shifting and uncomfortable in the cross ties. I shmeared his feet with magic cushion and we headed out to the ring. And he was back!!! He didn't try to hollow in the canter transitions like he had been. He definitely did spook at all the fillers though that he's jumped.... oh... roughly a million times at this point. He is who he is.
But he jumped GREAT! We started over the cross rails again and he felt like himself. He spooked at a vertical that had been a set of bounces, but that felt like... well... him. He was coming off the ground beautifully and didn't touch a rail the whole time. He actually felt so good that he did celebrate with a bit of spooking and bronc-ing in the corners (because dogs outside the ring and water on mats, never before seen items). JT told me to sit up, half halt him up and then push my hands forward. She said I had to ride him like he was up and nice before he actually was. Basically one of us had to give first and as the human, that had to be me. Once we sorted that out, the corners were nice too. We popped the two stride up to a bit over novice height and hopped through it to make sure the wheels really were back on the bus. And they were. He felt great popping around there, GOOD BOY!
I have my coworkers to thank for being ultra accommodating about my weekend swap requests. I was scheduled to work this weekend, but managed to switch with someone to get it off. But I did take their Thursday and Friday to get the Saturday and Sunday off. Sooooo I worked until midnight on Friday night. I was originally going to stable at Rocking Horse, but since Ben was at JT's, it made more sense to bring him home in between. I just set up my bed in the trailer and slept there at JT's instead of sleeping at Rocking Horse. Means the stall fee was for nothing, but I hauled JT's working students horse too, so we split gas. AND I didn't have to drive to Rocking Horse, back to Ocala for work, then back to Rocking Horse at 1 AM. So it all worked out and Ben was probably happier being back home at night and was definitely pretty happy about hauling with a friend.
Since we were in different divisions, I had about 3 hours after we arrived before dressage. So Ben got braids and we walked stadium and cross country.
Dressage was his typical, professional test. He could've been slightly more inspired, but it was soft and relaxed. I probably should've carried a dressage whip even though I rarely need to use it, the presence helps. And then we got a 33. Our worst score on this test by 8 points.
When I picked up my score sheet Sunday, it became apparent what had happened. His tongue had come out part way through, changing an 8 to a 6.5, and from there the judge saw tension EVERYWHERE. When in fact he was less tense once he weaseled his tongue out. The collective remarks said "Lovely elasticity but some connection issues (tongue, twisted neck) disrupt harmony today" Ugh. AND I actually did short diagonals this time, ah well, I'll throw in the stereotypical eventer we're just here for the jumping!!!
Stadium he was SO GOOD!!! He warmed up great, eliciting comments from another trainer asking where to find more OTTBs like him. And then we went in and just had fun. We were both smiling. He was jumping great. A tad bit sassy over spurs which is new, but it seemed playful not mad. This is how a course before moving up should feel!!!