It was a lovely sunny day to head down to Chescombe Farm with Ali and Donovan for jump and flatwork sessions respectively. Ali was on first and worked in well, she really seems to be getting the idea of taking more weight behind very quickly – I am hoping that I can get her qualified for the BD Elementary regionals in the next couple of weeks as qualification finishes at the end of November!! After popping over a few fences, we jumped round a course at 1.05-1.10m – she found this fairly easy and is obviously feeling well as humpity bucked at the end! Nick reminded me that at this height, at which she feels comfortable to do as little as possible so she has learns to think for herself – sometimes easier said than done… but now is the time over winter to be teaching her and let her make a mistake and have a pole in training, then she will learn how to get herself out of trouble despite me!! She does get very cross if she has a fence down – ears back etc!
The fences then went up to Intermediate height (1.2o-1.25m) – at first she was a little out of her depth and wasn’t quite keeping her shoulders up to the fence so not making it as easy for herself. She had a few down and so I came back to the first oxer and practiced keeping the revs up right until the moment of take-off and keeping her outside shoulder up. Once I got a nice jump over this, we carried on around the course again and she felt brilliant – staying straight and soft all the way and really pinging! I was very pleased with the way she jumped especially as even when she felt less comfortable with the bigger height she didn’t start rushing or getting tense and so we quickly managed to jump round well.
Next it was Donovan’s turn, he came out with his eyes out on stalks and snorting!! Since his injury he has only been out locally and to dressage so I think it was rather exciting with a full set of jumps out and things all around the arena. As always, because he is so spooky he was too short in his neck and needed to let go and take his neck forwards more on a longer rein. Nick suggested a subtle change in my position, tucking my “tail bone” under so that my core was stronger and just using my fingers to soften him in the jaw when he spooks and tenses rather than my whole arm, which he can then sometimes come against. He was also really helpful with positioning for half pass, where Donovan is reluctant keep the bend through his rib cage so I need to use more inside leg while still asking him to move across. It doesn’t help that he can be quite lazy off the leg so his reaction to an aid can be rather sluggish! At home as well as practicing for the tests I am going to include sessions getting him to work lower and take the rein forward encouraging him to relax over his whole back and go forward better off my leg in all paces, this should help to build up more muscle which he still hasn’t totally regained after all the box rest he had. It was a really encouraging and positive session! 🙂