The local circuit show Eli & I were planning on got rained out. There are two upsides to this: Eli schooled fantastically on Friday before the rain hit, and the rain hit early enough that the show management could make the rain-out call by early evening, so no 3am calls about it. The major downside for me is that I will be out of town for the rain date, and my work schedule will not be easy to work around between now and next June as far as getting to any more shows. But we’ll see … I may sneak in one or two shows before next June …
So instead of a horse show run-down, I’ll just give a lesson re-cap. Once again, no pictures or video. I need friends with cameras! Since we’d be jumping, I didn’t bother with any complicated flat work exercises, just a simple warm up. The while my coach raised the jumps, I hopped over an X at the trot both ways, and then cantered a low vertical–about 2’6″–both ways. Good to go. My coach is not shy about raising the jumps. We have been schooling at 3′ with a little 3’3″ thrown in, but this time the jumps were 3’3″ with a little 3’6″ thrown in. My mentality is I have to jump what my coach sets, even though I wanted to ask her to lower a few of the oxers a hole.
Conveniently, or not, the farm where I ride is also show management for the local circuit shows hosted at another farm. So we had about 5 or 6 jumps missing from the arena that had been taken over to the host farm. So that limited the course to basically outside-inside-outside. I planned ahead and wore a spur, and got a good pace going on Eli, knowing that he recently had a habit of stepping sideways and adding at the last minute. I don’t really want to do that at a 3’6″ oxer. Additionally, the blue line and the yellow line were 4-strides, both set about two feet short, although the green line was pretty much a straight-forward 5.
Eli was PERFECT. I was amazed. He cruised right around and I did have to whoa in the middle of both the blue and yellow lines, but he jumped everything right out of his stride and we had no problems. He was in front of my leg and straight and we even got a full blown lead change from left to right coming off the yellow line before the turn to the green line.
Coach applauded, which of course set Eli to throwing a little buck because he doesn’t like clapping, but I could tell he was very pleased with himself about the whole thing. And I was thrilled. He is getting the jumper mentality now, and he’s having fun.
We decide to just do a couple of turns and save his legs. The first exercise, we did the #3 vertical to the #6 oxer. Was it perfect? No. Was it as a tight a turn as could be? No. Eli and I haven’t mastered turns yet–he still takes a stride or two after I ask for the turn before he’s like, OH, okay. He doesn’t fight or anything anymore, he just doesn’t quite get it yet, but he’ll get there. What the turn was, was forward and he jumped the oxer right out of his stride again, no chippy step. To make it better, I could have kept looking to the oxer, but what I actually did was look to the oxer while in the air over the vertical, look back at Eli’s neck upon landing, and didn’t look back to the oxer until the apex of the turn. I need to look at the oxer the whole time! My coach was pleased with the smoothness of the turn, though, so we moved on to the next exercise, the #2 oxer then left turn to the X at the top of the ring.
I picked up a left lead canter, but didn’t quite line up to the oxer. Eli didn’t quite see it in time, and it was set wider than the oxers have been set recently. We were basically on top of the jump and he jumped it anyway out of a very weak half-step, and he only partly cleared it, taking down the back rail and we landed in a heap. Coach said she thinks he just didn’t see it, and I needed to get his focus right at the first step of the canter and not be so indecisive. Good advice, of course!
So the next time we picked up a left lead canter, Eli felt much more awake. We got a deep but not by any means bad distance to the oxer this time and he jumped me clear out of the tack, clearing the oxer by what must have been about a mile! Literally not any part of me was touching any part of the tack except the reins for a split second in the air. Eli’s jump felt AMAZING. Seriously, I know it’s maybe a little twisted, but I love being jumped out of the tack. Favorite problem to have. I managed to get back into the tack in time to steer to the X which he easily jumped. I kept the canter going to come back to the oxer one more time, and Eli jumped it very well from a very nice distance, still with enthusiasm but a little more control this time. This was a good place to end the jumping. My coach was very pleased with Eli, especially in that even to a weird distance, he still tried to jump, didn’t have a meltdown or run-off episode after having a rail, and put forth an incredible effort upon a second go at it. He didn’t show any anxiety or balkiness to the jumps at all. Eli has come a long way in the past few years. That same rail a few years ago would have resulted in him taking off bucking and running, and head-flipping all the way around the ring. His progress is really starting to result in rewards for both Eli and myself. He’s gaining a lot of confidence!
Saturday, of course, the show was rescheduled to the following weekend.
The footing was still fine at home, so I let Eli out for a little while and then just W/T/C for a little while, although it started to rain on us. Right about the time Eli squealed–he hates getting rained on–I decided it was raining hard enough and we called it a day.
Eli got Sunday off, and it was lightly raining almost all day, so I gave him a good curry. We’ll just have to wait and see how the footing is this evening. I have trot pole/cavaletti exercises I want to try.