Luckily for me, Eli and I share the same general over-arching opinion about jumping: we like it. We just differ about what happens between the jumps.
Not by a whole lot, and sometimes Eli is right to disagree with me because sometimes I make stupid or bad decisions. However, Eli’s rideability in between the fences may be acceptable enough for me to get to the next jump, but it is not good enough for success in the hunter ring yet.
We have MANY things to work on. One of the things my trainer wants us to work on, and we introduced it to Eli in Saturday’s lesson, is for Eli to stop resisting downward transitions and halts, even if we ask for such things in the middle of a course.
We started slow, trotting and then cantering just one fence in a straight line and halting straight after the jump. This particular exercise is not all that new to us, so it went pretty well.
Then we kind of blew Eli’s mind a bit by asking him to trot in AND TROT OUT or even better trot in AND HALT in the middle of a line. A 48′ line. I could tell there was a lot of “wtf are you asking me, cookie lady???” going through his head. We were not looking for perfection, just improvement. My trainer wanted me to be able to trot in, get the halt or trot promptly, and then soften my hands and be able to trot out quietly.
Did we ever do that well? Eeehrhrmm. Nah. It was ugly. BUT I was getting a stronger listening response from Eli toward the end, as opposed to a resisting response. I was able to practice the same exercise on Sunday on my own, and I could tell he retained a lot and understood much better what I was asking. We were able to trot in and trot out with no real issues (other than a right drift which is me).
Although the weather looks bleak, I will try to trot in and canter out of a line quietly some night this week, just to let him know that cantering jumps is still part of his job, too. Hopefully in the next lesson we can build on this.