He just keeps getting better! On Saturday, Parker went for another x-c school this time at the lovely St. Augustine Pony Club or what used to be the old grounds for the Middletown Horse trials. I had planned on riding two but my horse was a little bit funky in his behavior on friday so maybe he was a bit sore? I decided to play it safe and leave him at home.
Parker just started off more confident this time and happily went out in the huge fields all by himself with no other horses around which was great. I also think he was happier back in the herm sprenger duo bit instead of the eggbutt french link I had been trying out. Last time, I felt like he was slightly worried about leaving the group but I didn’t feel any of that from him at the schooling. We had a really relaxed warmup both going off by ourself and trotting and cantering around where all the other horse were. I always feel like it is good to practice both so when you get to an event they can handle being alone but also being in a crowded warmup.
The funny thing about Parker is that he can be a bit spooky riding around the jumps. He came to a dead stop to stare at some natural colored box on the way out. I spent a lot of time walking him up to jumps and letting him sniff them and get a good look. All of my best horses have been the type that spook at the jumps when you ride past but don’t take a second look when asked to jump them. This seems to be the case with Parker because he doesn’t refuse anything but riding around them is cause for concern
We started out over some logs and it was immediately clear that he picked up where we left off at the last schooling. Instead of being wiggly and confused he was locked on and eager to go to the jump. The first one he was a tiny bit sticky but I just waited for him to figure it out and he got the footwork down nicely.
We all laughed a bit at him because he jumps really high with the front end but the back end is not quite sure what to do. No big deal as this is very typical of green horses. It is important to try to stay in the middle and I really do my best not to help them to much. My job is to get them straight and forward and then just stay soft and let them figure out where to put their feet.
I could be back a bit more there but he jumps so hard off the ground I also have to watch that I don’t get left behind because he has quite the kick in the air.
He was really doing a good job reading the questions. We headed over to the bank jump which is a challenging bank for a horse who has only ever done a tiny bank. The step up is high because you are stepping up onto a mound. I just walked him up and he paused and then stepped up very calmly. Good boy!
If you look at the mound you can see it is a bit of a big drop down but the drop is even harder because the ground slopes away and there is nothing but big fields to look at. I have seen some horses really struggle with this particual drop bank. Parker stood there for a minute and then took a very big leap out. It is really hard to ride it when you have to sit and wait for them to go and then they always do that huge leap. I was on a loose rein so he could look down and place his feet but he really stretched his full body out!
We were keeping the fences pretty small not that he isn’t capable of doing bigger but I believe in keeping it small until they fully understand. He still wants to slow down and look so keeping them small allows me to ride up to them and allow him to make a mistake if necessary. A lot of horses are scared of this jump which has weird white boxes under it but he could have cared less.
We hacked down to the water with Parker leading the way. I love that he is super brave and happy to go in the front or back. He then lead everyone right through the water. Good boy!!! He walked back and forth and thought it was all pretty cool.
Overall, it was a great outing and next time I think he is ready for bigger fences and more questions. He seemed really proud of himself which is always the goal. Keep it fun for them and they will come out better next time and keep progressing. I adore Parker and he has the mind we all look for. It has been fun bringing him along and watching his attitude change.