Gerbil Roll Call

With BN at FRVPCHT (the alphabet soup event!) coming up soon, my trainer called a Sunday afternoon on-property XC lesson, partially to try out a proposed XC bit change - not for brakes, mine work fine, but to encourage effective half-halts and an open throatlatch:

TL;DR: It was a really successful experiment.

We used the ring directly underneath the snaffle ring, and it was still more leverage than I'd ever ridden him in before.  The best way to describe Connor's reaction to my engaging it was "immediate gerbil roll call".  I generally rode with a very light contact, but when I half-halted, he was an on-task, easily packaged, hind-end engaged XC machine.

Our best guess is that he feels really confident on XC after Penny Oaks, and that confidence plus this bit encouraging him to keep his head up and his throatlatch open meant he wasn't doing this anymore:

Checking for lions in July 2013; this brief pause is SO HARD to ride and I'm SO GLAD we might be through this stage!

The bit helped me get his hind end packaged underneath him before the fence in a way that is normally difficult for me to do, and as a result we had some great fences, even over scary looking things we'd never jumped before.  "Ultimately, it's up to him when to take off, but your job is to make sure the hind end is under him and engaged. Ride the hind legs!"

When I got him there on a good distance, all the fences were smooth as silk largely because he wasn't putting his nose down to the fence anymore - we think because he can see it further out when his head is up.  When I got him there on a bad distance, he saved my ass one way or another, and wasn't scared the next time we re-presented, we just fixed our previous mistake.

It went so much better than the loose ring or baucher that I ordered one of my own when I got home, but a two-ring instead of three - my trainer said I'd never need the third ring on Connor, and I tend to agree.

Also, today is hind leg shedding day?

Before today, I was pretty nervous about the move up, but I'm feeling much more ready after today.  We were communicating about and generally agreeing on distances, he was really locking on to the fences, and we just felt good together.  Good thing, since it's less than two weeks away!

13 comments:

  1. You guys are going to kill it!

    I've been jumping hue in a happy mouth gag/elevator and he's loving it. Glad you found a great XC option :)

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    1. Thanks! Bits and gadgets aren't everything, but the right one sure does make a big difference, huh?

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  2. So weird, my horses hind legs she'd like crazy yesterday and today too!

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    1. Glad I'm not alone in that - I was pulling out hunks of hair. It was really weird.

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  3. This is the problem Loki and I have been having on and off. We tried him in a pelham recently and it seems to have made a big difference. But that pause and stare at the jump moment is definitely hard to ride!

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    1. I can see a pelham helping too. It is really hard to ride! It makes me feel like a bad rider over fences, because it's impossible to predict and compensate for, at least at my riding level. But yesterday felt great.

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  4. Glad you found a good xc bit, that is half the battle!

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    1. I would have said I didn't need it before I tried it, but after I tried it I'm glad to have it!

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  5. Awesome! You sounds very prepared.

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    1. Hope so. It is really nerve-wracking, it being the first time either one of us has gone BN before.

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  6. So excited for you! You and Connor will rock BN!

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  7. That's great that you are feeling more comfortable with the step up! Good luck!

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