As predicted, EC was still feeling the Badminton energy and had a tricky, windy course set up for us. Also, there were skinnies and corners, neither of which we've really done much (actually any) of.
I told her my feelings about the show and in typical EC fashion, she laughed :) "What do you expect? She's a pony! We knew eventually she'd look for a way to get the job done with minimum amount of energy possible. If you let her, she's going to constantly reinvent her job description as she goes along."
First order of business: get the pony in front of my leg. "Be relentless! If you have to put your reins in one hand and smack her on the bottom, do that. She HAS to respond to your leg IMMEDIATELY. She's far enough along in her training that we want more, you need to be able to adjust the canter the second you ask. It has to feel like she is taking you to the jump!" Words I needed to hear, since left to my own devices I tend to start feeling "mean" and let things slide rather than picking that fight as consistently as I should.
|I have zero willpower, she's too cute|
To practice this, we trotted into a small jump, landed in canter, and if she felt at all stuck, we followed by galloping away and down the long sides of the arena, bringing her back a little on the short side, then jumping again. It helped immensely!
EC feels like our problems are a fairly normal training stage considering how we started B jumping (on a pretty loose rein, just asking her to go forward and straight) Now that we're keeping a bit more of a contact and asking her to adjust a little, Bridget is not yet understanding that those cues don't mean slow down and do a pretty dressage canter. I need to be quicker to react, particularly upon landing, pushing her forward and encouraging her to take me along a little more into the contact, otherwise we lose more and more pace as the round goes on. She is very light in the bridle, and as mentioned, not always the quickest to respond so it's a little tricky for me. Lots of homework there.
Onwards to jumping the course. We did a million times better than on the weekend, and EC had the jumps set higher than anything she's set for us before. It wasn't bad, but I still felt that little hesitation and like nothing was there in front of me pony wise, so although she did jump it all honestly first try, I was a little all over the place and half expecting a stop. EC got after me for allowing her to get behind my leg again, and off we went a few more times. Things got better and better. Not to the point where B was really taking me and I could sit back and ride, but well enough that I could adjust her a little and felt like I had a go button when I needed it. We finished by reversing the course and had our best round of the day. Good pony.
Homework: lengthen and shorten on a straight line. "Relentless" about forward.
And, since it was a bit of a rough lesson, in keeping with yesterday's post here are 4 things I thought we did well:
- Really good geometry. I chose good lines and pony did her part and stayed straight and honest. We nailed the corner every time, as well as the skinny, and just generally looked early and didn't deviate from our path.
- Confidently jumped bigger than anything we'd done before.
- Adjusted between 4 and 5 strides on the related distances and I was able to make smart decisions as to which I wanted.
- Kept a good sense of humor, did not get frustrated.