|That crossrail is bigger than you'd think|
We started the lesson standing still, with my trainer asking me to drop his head. Courage and I bickered about it, but weren't making a lot of substantial progress. She pointed out two things: 1) this horse had been pulled on a lot (racing, der) and 2) his average is "good enough" that he's getting away with sort of toeing the line without actually doing what he's capable of.
"Right now, his trot is a 5," she said. "He is way too cute a horse to be a 5."
We started out with some concentrated flatwork. She told us that my homework was to do 20 transitions within the gaits EACH DIRECTION, EVERY RIDE. Basically, I need to pick a lot of little fights with him so he starts learning to accept me as the leader, which will make big fights (um, gate of doom, anyone?) less of a big deal. In addition, the transitions will get him more adjustable and accepting of the contact, which are things we don't really do.
I was pleased when I correctly said that he was moving his legs forward while holding his tension in his neck. I was also pleased when we were able to start alleviating that tension by trotting forward and really pushing him into a steady contact. I was even more pleased that C-rage is now at a mental place where he can handle the pressure and doesn't lose it.
We did a couple of different exercises to get him engaged in the corner. We started with a leg yield to the right, but I don't have him responsive enough to my leg yet, so those tended to just cause some sort of unstoppable powerskid to the outside and we even stopped at a couple of crossrails because he was so crooked.
What worked really well for us was to do a small canter circle where I rode him really, really forward while keeping my hands equal distance from his neck (balance and consistency, eh?), then brought him to trot just as we headed to the jump. The circle brought his balance back and up, which then allowed me to relax and breath towards the jump.
Courage, of course, wanted to impress our trainer with his very best deer leaps, so I won't say it was the best jumping he ever did. That said, it was also the most pressure I've ever put on him while jumping and while he wanted to freak out and flail a few times, he kept it together and didn't. I call that a win.
|Not my best position, but look who's cute!|
All in all, a very excellent lesson. I have TONS to work on and the work we did in the lesson was some of the best we've ever done. He's taking a break after three hard days and I'm super excited to get back in the tack and start practicing.