I warmed up over a low vertical, and then went through the combination a few times while it was set kind of low. The combination was also set a few feet short to each element–oh, gee, Eli’s favorite.
I am currently working on three things while doing courses with Eli: keeping my shoulders up, learning to embrace gappy distances when they come up (which Eli favors), and adjustability in combinations. My trainer set the fences at roughly 3′, give or take.
The second time Eli came through the combination in our warm up, he did something weird that my trainer nor I have any explanation for–it was like he started to jump, stopped, and then jumped without quite snapping his knees up enough. Fortunately the fence was low so he just rubbed it. I was a little more emphatic with my leg after that. He jumped through it fine every other time.
Once the height went up, the combination was a tough fit for Eli. From 2B to 2C was a short three, and one of the times through I could tell Eli thought about doing it in two. I barely squeezed in a third stride that time. Once over one of the singles, he saw the gap and got a little bit flat and pulled a rail. Jumped the crap out of it the next time over. I still have to support his canter, especially to a gap, to get him to jump tighter and clear.
This lesson gave my trainer and I ideas about what I need to work on during the week in our flat work: the canter. Canter through poles, canter through cavaletti, transitions within the canter, how many types of canter can you pull off. He is also going in a pretty fat KK Ultra loose ring right now, so I may switch it up to a thinner KK Ultra Dee. I’m thinking of trying the WH Ultra (with the roller), too–anyone ever use one? I don’t want anything severe on the bars of Eli’s mouth, but maybe a little extra action on his tongue would get him to half-halt a little bit better. Or at all. Because of his previous history with at times quite severe head flipping, I am loath to use any stronger kind of leverage bit. He just isn’t that strong into my hand anyway, it’s more about compressing his stride, not really slowing the pace. I think flat work will be the place to fix it.
And flat work we did on Monday. Mostly working at the canter, collecting and extending, I even did a bit of hand gallop up the long side going away from the barn–it took five strides to really get him back after that. I will be doing something similar today, with a few poles on the ground here and there. I noticed he’s a bit weaker going to the right, so some trot-canter transitions may also be in order.
Last, I have decided to consolidate all the barn crap I carry in different bags into one bag, and ordered a large weekender bag. I literally went out the door this morning carrying five bags and a can of sparkling water. And forgot my coffee, although I don’t know how I would have carried it.