May 27, 2012

Day 1 Clinic Wrapup

Let me sum up Connor and I's two day CJF  clinic with this statement from my beaming trainer after our second ride: "You guys looked so good, he has so much potential!  There was a cross-country pony in there after all!"

On Saturday, my hour included Connor and I and Jen on Louie, which led Cathy to start calling me "Pony Jen" to differentiate us, which stuck the rest of the weekend.  In our warmup, he was both having trouble bending and going around with his head in the air ("ostrich trot" Cathy called it) so she had me bring him back to the walk, then halt and back one step, then walk forward, ask for and establish the bend with the inside rein before adding inside leg and asking him to leg yield into the outside rein.  Suddenly, I had instant connectedness every. single. time.  I think the inside leg was the missing piece.

With all of the riders, she really drilled the idea that control within each gait, and the ability to produce control and power without necessarily more speed, so during the warmup she started in with improving Connor and I's canter transitions.  Up to this point he has just sort of thrown himself into them, if he got them.  Yesterday, she had me get a nice slow, controlled trot with him using the above for help, and then feel when he was ready for the transition.  I was stunned when he picked it up immediately and correctly by rocking back on his hocks 100% of the time.  We must have done ten of those transitions in our guided warmup, which was astounding.  When he missed, he missed because the quality of my trot wasn't good enough and/or he wasn't ready.  For someone who has historically put more emphasis on WHERE I pick up the canter ("Pick up the canter at A") the idea of schooling the canter based on when my green horse was ready for it was sort of mind-blowing.

So after we had that whole revelation, we started in over cross-rails and eventually graduated to a five or six stride line that started with a cross-rail and ended with a vertical oxer.  It was his first oxer, and while he was wiggly sometimes, he jumped it every time.  She had me think a lot about jumping with my leg underneath me, and staying back.  Because he's so short through the neck, as a pony, it's more important for me to stay back on him.

When he jumped into the line without confidence, the oxer didn't go so smoothly.  One time he almost stopped but was still able to very athletically pop himself over it.  I got jumped out of the tack several times - pony has hops!  Mary said he sits down and jumps like a big horse, which made me exceedingly happy.  We had no refusals or runouts the entire weekend.

Day 2 wrapup and maybe pictures coming tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Go Connor! What a great compliment from Naomi. Can't wait for pictures and I'm definitely going to try that walk-back-leg yield trick with some of the horses I ride (giraffe-necked Arab, I'm looking at you...)