We had a jump lesson scheduled with Beth at 11 am and it was still super cold! But the sun finally came out which helped a bit. We came up as Christina and Sham were finishing their ride and it looked good. Then she had to leave to get to work and Fleck and I continued on. Fleck called for Sham but didn't do much more than that. Hmmm...... Warning flag. So anyways... we warmed up and I told Beth about my counter canter issues and how I couldn't figure out what to do with my butt/seat/legs/etc. So... she said that to go back to true canter... sit evenly and let my inside hip canter with Fleck. So I did... and it worked fine. Then to go to the counter canter.... same thing. Nothing changes. I needed to make sure that I kept my inside leg forward at the girth and my outside leg back and no changing seat bones. So we did the teardrop back to the rail and continued on with counter canter. He did pretty well and held it. I'm sure because of me riding properly. But he did drop to the trot once or twice. Beth said it was more of a balance issue as it's hard and not so much me throwing him off. And as Cindy said.. not to punish him because it was a strength issue. So good deal. I didn't want to drill it and I felt like I had gotten enough in that my brain was back on track as far as where my body needed to be.
So the we started jumping. Beth asked me after a few jumps how he felt. I thought he felt a little sluggish leaving the ground... lurchy. But I thought it was because he wasn't in front of my leg. So we talked about it some and did some more. Then Beth pulled me aside and said she wanted to clear something up so she didn't confuse me. SOOOOO glad she said it! She said that at Pine Top the plan was to collect his stride before the jump and keep him collect and almost continue to collect him to the base... because he does not like the long stride so he adds the shuffle. But if we keep him short, then he can move up to the long spot if he's feeling good or stay powered without the shuffle for the tight spot. And it was AWESOME. However, she did not want me to confuse things and start actively shortening him to the base for every jump. Especially stadium. Pine Top was a quick fix to get us through the competition but now we had to fix it the right way. Which means... shorten him in the turn.. then keep him the same... not lengthening to the jump, not picking and shortening more to the jump, and then... because he is short and connected and has power... he can open up a bit to the spot or stay collected and jump nicely. She was afraid that I would over do it and shorten him and keep shortening him to the base. And you know what?! That's exactly what I was doing. Not that consciously, but.. I was. So once I thought about just keeping him the same... our jumps were much better and less lurchy.
So then she raised the jumps up and gave us a course. It started with the skinny. (No biggie as my jumps at home are ALL skinnies so skinny verticals don't phase either of us). We got the right canter and he came up to it perfectly. And then.... it was like he started to jump... sort of changed his mind.. and basically half jumped it half ran through it. We pulled up and chatted. Beth said she thought that he just looked like he didn't want to leave the ground. Either he was hock sore and not wanting to push off... or fearing discomfort on the landing. Sigh... no.... not again!!! I knew it would come back eventually... and without any real signs... other than maybe I just know him so well, I had sort of had that thought in the back of my mind. I was planning on IRAPing him again after FENCE, but.. now I didn't have time before FENCE. Argh... So we dropped the fences back down, jumped him over a small course of about 4 or 5 to end on a good note and quit. And he did end on a good note. He was quite happy and willing to jump... just not big. And he tried... the poor guy tried.
So poo.... I'm not sure if it was the fact that it was cold and the footing was a bit compacted. Maybe he was just a bit stiff and sore. He's not lame. He's not showing any real symptoms.. just the subtle clues that we pick up on but can't quite define. Argh... so I planned to give him some time off and reassess as I had to work the next four days anyways.
Fingers crossed he feels better. But I have noticed that he isn't as bouncy and aggressive to the other two at feeding times.... :(