On Sunday Bobby and I trailered to a farm a little over an hour away so we could have a jumping lesson from our trainer. Bobby is about to move up to Training (I gave him balls) so he wanted to jump some big-ish stuff, and I’m taking every opportunity to a) get a jump lesson b) jump in a larger arena than at home. Our problems tend to be exacerbated greatly when we have more space.
At Trainer’s suggestion I switched Henry to a full cheek Dr Bristol. I needed a little bit more respect and something that he couldn’t just lean on and drag me through the corners. I tried it out o/f on Saturday at home, doing some of the exercises Buck recommended, and Henry was actually quite good. Normally he’s a drama queen about any new bit, but he was fantastic in the Dr Bristol. I got more respect but he never tossed his head, curled up, or seemed pissed. Kind of amazing for Henry, usually he has an opinion about everything.
On Sunday when we got on and started warming up for our lesson, Trainer immediately said that she noticed a big difference in how Henry was moving. The magic fetlock juice plus new farrier are definitely helping. She set the fences as we warmed up, and had them at about 3′-3’3″ to start with, which we’re pretty comfortable with right now. We warmed up, did a couple courses at that height, then she started raising the fences. Bobby and I both looked like this
Trainer cackled (she’s evil, so she cackles by default) and said “We’re gonna put a few at Prelim height so Training looks small!”. Great. Super. Sure, why not? Seems like as good a day as any to die.
It took me most of the lesson to remember what our “right” pace is, and I really had to ride every step, but Henry was great. Very honest a couple of times when he totally didn’t have to be (sorry bud) and just quite rideable in general. A total turnaround from the horse I’ve had all fall – this is my normal Henry, back in business.
At one point Evil Trainer had us jump the big square oxer, bending 5 strides to the last big oxer of the triple. It was a bit of a wonky line that required you to jump the second one on an angle, and bless Henry’s golden little heart, he was super game.
The key points were pretty much exactly what Buck said (Trainer is evil but she is wise) – always keeping him bent around my inside leg, making sure to keep the power in the canter, and getting him more comfortable jumping from the base. It’s a work in progress of course but it was light years better than what’s been happening lately.
Dare I say that I think I have my horse back? BRB, gotta go find a shit ton of wood to knock on…