December 30, 2011


I've always thought it funny how horsepeople identify and hold onto one perfect stride, or one perfect fence.  One perfect moment in time that condenses and validates the training, effort and yes, money, that we've put into our horses.  It's also frustrating when you "get it" for one stride, but then lose it again, but that wasn't the case today!

Due to my crazy traveling schedule around Christmas, Contender and I had back-to-back lessons on both Thursday and Friday of this week.  Thursday was by ourselves, but Friday was with Assistant Trainer Jen and her horse, P, who is a young (and very sporty) chestnut sabino Dutch Harness/Arabian at about the same jumping level as Contender.  After the college girls had a group lesson with their horses that are all capable of 3'+, we had a preschool level fences lesson with our babies.

Before anyone gets concerned about the fact that we're jumping him too much in his first week, we only had maybe six or so actual jumping efforts today, and they were again maybe a foot tall fences.  Having Assistant Trainer Jen riding with me cut down on the individual attention and riding time.  He also is getting the weekend off, a light ride Monday, and then another two days off, and no jumping again for the near future.  Today was primarily focused on canter poles, and then using poles to teach him to trot in, but take a canter stride over the pole right before and then land cantering. 

Jumping greenies is...exciting.  P spooked into Contender at the scary door in the wind, but Contender didn't lose it and merely jumped to the side.  They both nearly ran into a standard at different times, and they both had their own issues with the cantering and poles.  Contender started the lesson by stopping at, then walking over, the first crossrail we did, but it got progressively better from there.

The highlight of the day, though, was two consecutive efforts over the same exercise, which was ground pole to crossrail to multiple one stride canter ground poles on the other side.  We trotted in, I asked for the canter over the ground pole on the near side of the jump, and cantered out.  The first couple of times were lackluster; we were still just "making it" to the other side, which is perfectly acceptable for this point in time.  We made it with impulsion, but he still wasn't really jumping.  But then...

Then I felt what I've been hoping to feel this whole time.  I felt him really use himself and athletically jump the fence, not just make it to the other side in whatever configuration we happened to be in.  Twice in a row, he picked his knees up, his back came up underneath me, and he felt so good over that fence!  After watching that, my trainer said, "He's going to be really smooth over the fences once he figures it out." 

I got a glimpse of what he's going to be today, and I could not be more excited.  What a great ride to end 2011 on!

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