Smooth hunter rounds are made up of many elements, but the flow of a round is enhanced when a horse lands on the correct lead for the direction of the next turn. If you study winning rounds (especially winning handy rounds), you’ll see this — the horse doesn’t even have to do a lead change. Perhaps not in every case, but it’s something within reach for me and Eli, and is completely way more desirable than having to attempt a lead change.
So the last two jump schools with my trainer focused on nailing this puzzle piece. We had to clean up some odds and ends in my riding to accomplish landing on the lead consistently, but I think I’ve got it now. Eli has zero issue with landing on the lead provided I ask correctly. Monday is the freshest in my mind, and I am very happy with how Eli rode.
We started with just trotting a low crossrail, and my trainer cautioned me against moving around to much. Or, at all, considering Eli could just trot over the crossrail like a cavaletti. The second approach, my trainer asked that I trot the crossrail, but ask for the canter upon landing, without wiggling around (haha). I was able to do that, too. I felt the theme this lesson would be *precision*. We moved on to first trotting in and cantering out of a line, then cantering in and trotting out, then back to trotting in and cantering out. And getting those leads on the landing! Eli was listening so well, and he executed everything absolutely perfectly (from my very biased standpoint). My trainer also helped me with keeping him straight. I still haven’t ingrained what I need to do into muscle memory yet, but I am getting close. LOOK LEFT — that works really, really well to combat the right drift. It’s not the only thing I need to do, but it’s a big part of it.
I had set up a vertical-oxer-vertical exercise in the middle of the ring, each fence 33′ from the next. This was an exercise that I would have to be very straight in, and it would encourage Eli to jump a bit round and from his hind end if I could ride it right. We only went through it twice. The first time we came in a bit weak (I do not advise this through such an exercise) but Eli being Eli responded to my leg and made it over the oxer just fine and had to step up a bit to get out but we did it. The second time through, Eli hit all the right notes, we stayed in the middle, and we landed on the correct lead. That’s a great time to call it a day! Eli gets another well-deserved day off today.
We have a show upcoming on Saturday. I think we’re ready. However, Central Texas is in the midst of a brutal heat wave and I am having second thoughts about going because it’s forecast to be 106 or something ridiculous like that. That is not my idea of a good time.