I rode with my trainer on both Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday didn’t go smoothly. I made too many mistakes, and Eli was irritated about that. We started great and ended without even being able to approach a low jump at the trot. My trainer said it was time for her to check in on my flat work with Eli. So Thursday we had a flat lesson.
Eli flats very well, as far as responding to what I am asking of him. Our downward transitions have improved a lot. We have some bobbles at the walk, but Eli’s trot and canter are very pleasant to ride now. We can even adjust at the canter pretty well, too. We can change the canter step without speeding up — making the step cover more ground but not getting hurried.
But not so much at the trot. Whoops. Gaping maw, right there.
For the lesson on Thursday, we worked on changing the step at both the trot and canter. To make it extra challenging, my trainer insisted no sitting. So only posting at the trot and only in a two-point at the canter. The canter exercises actually went fairly well.
And then we had to trot on a very small step after cantering. Perhaps owners of OTTBs will understand my difficulties with this.
But we persisted. My trainer emphasized working in the same direction until I got the responses from Eli that we wanted. She insisted I stay patient, persistent, and NOT frustrated. She said to use circles to help Eli to understand what we’re asking now. Just keep asking until he gets it, then reward profusely. We finally got some relaxed, collected trot after cantering. But it took some time.
At this point my trainer and I discussed what I’d need to do regularly, moving forward. We took a small gate at a canter three times to cement the illustration. My trainer’s expectations are for me to WAIT (how she is not tired of telling me this … eh, she probably is tired of it). Let Eli find the distance and let him make mistakes because that’s how he is going to learn. What I tend to do is pick our spots myself, which inevitably ends in me gunning it at some point, and Eli doesn’t really enjoy that. My trainer wants Eli to pick the spots now. Teaching Eli more collection in our flat work should give him the tools to pick his distances better. We all know he can move up very easily, but he has to be able to shorten his stride, too. My job is to provide support — shoulders up, seat out of the saddle, hands soft and following, leg if necessary. It’s not going to be an automatic thing so I have to be patient (not the easiest thing for me).
Considering how much we had to work through these past two days, Eli is getting Friday off. I will just be flatting again by myself this Saturday and my homework is collection and transitions within the gaits. These are building blocks which are important to have in between the jumps, but I don’t want to drill. I will be giving him Sunday off, too.
I am also hoping by next week to get an .mp4 of some video from summer of 2001 — maybe lessons or a show? I cannot wait to see! Should bring back some great memories!