Fixing the flatwork had made jumping easy. No suprise there right! The hard work on the flat is making major differences over fences. The horse who struggled to canter a stadium course is now cantering around in good balance just as confident as can be. Now that we have got the canter I have to work on making it a bit more adjustable but it will be!
Janice watched but she was a bit concerned overall about how reactive he was to anything I did with my body. I told her we were working out some issues and she also confirmed he needs to learn how to react to contact because ultimately you have to be able to use some contact on a forward thinking horse. She made it clear that it is my JOB to let go that last stride in front of the fence as that is his reward for jumping. Do all my balancing and riding but let go that last stride. Why is this so hard!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When we started he stopped at the first fence a simple x-rail which is normal for him. She said something a bit odd to me which is she wants me to ride him softer even if I know he is going to stop that riding defensively makes him more anxious so she would rather have a quiet stop in front of the fence where I am soft and hovering over the saddle than a stop where I am sitting back with to much contact on the reins. Ride him more like a hunter at this point even though he is a bit forward and needs balancing try to do it more with the lower leg to fluff it up than using my seat. Once he jumps the first fence he is always fine and he doesn’t always stop at the first fence he just hates this particular fence in her ring which has a million rails and is on the short side of the open indoor. I need to give him the ride she described so much to improve upon there!
We did our normal cantering the single off the turn just keeping the hind coming under. She then had me bending him inside although she normally has you ride the outside hind around she wanted him bent inside so I could keep him more coiled from leg to hand and get a bit more torque.
I have not been able to get him to canter whole courses previously but yesterday we cantered and had changes! The difference is he is not pulling me out of the tack (thank you Mogie!) and he has found his hind end. He does get pissy when he touches your hand and I have the softest bit in possible so I think it is just a matter of working through it. I struggle with letting go that last stride especially when he is so out of balance and all over. Sometimes he was soft and right there and it was simple to let go but when he is rushy and flat letting go feels unnatural but I know that is what has to be be done.
We had some really super nice moments where I had this bouncy canter and he jumped lovely and moments where I asked him to balance up with leg to hand and he shot his head in the air and ran. The bad moments were few and far between but honestly he is a young horse still figuring things out so I appreciate his confident bold approach in some regards. I would rather have him going forward with confidence than sucking back and worried like he was before.
My gut tells me that it will all be just fine in another month and I will forget it was ever so hard I was super happy with him jumping around everything except for the first jump and he was very forward and brave. There were some lovely moments and he cantered and did changes. That is a super big deal for him. It was pouring rain and the rain was making a lot of noise on the metal and he could have cared less. He is just so easy to deal with and I love that about him.
A mix of video from the lesson.