Today was a good day!
A LONG day and I'm exhausted but a good day. I adjusted one horse across the street and then came home and grabbed the boys. We headed up to Wishing Tree to adjust Mighty and Atlas and get some lessons.
I rode Fleck first. I tacked up and we went down the driveway for a quick hack with Beth and Mighty. Then we headed to the jump ring. While we were hacking Beth and I chatted and I basically told her what my current thoughts were regarding Fleck. She pretty much said that she agreed but wanted to add two things. She felt like I needed a coach at shows. And I agree. At least at prelim. She also said that it was more of a mental thing on my part. Whether it was performance anxiety or the fact that I'm so afraid that Fleck is doing to die (my words, not hers) that I am only riding at 70% instead of 100%, or something else, I'm just not riding well at prelim events. We laughed and said that I've become a helicopter Mom... I won't let Fleck go trick or treating without a supervisor or GPSing his backpack. ;) "But MOOOOOOMMMMM, I'm a18 dangit... when are you going to let me live my life and jump big jumps and gallop mOooooommmmm"! hee hee. But she's got a point. Even Kathryn said something to that effect last year. Fleck can take care of himself. He's not dumb. He's not going to get himself hurt. So now.. it's my job to RIDE WELL and take care of myself so that Fleck can get the job done and go play at Prelim. Sigh.... Fair enough. Easier said than done though.
And I really don't know why I shut down at events. I didn't always. Even at prelim. But... now it's my default. Sigh... She also said that she would suggest me going to an event before Winter so that I don't dwell on the bad ending all winter long. But... I don't know if I can make that happen.
Anyways... we had a great lesson! It was basically the same lesson I had with Kelly. :) It's the canter coming into the fence that I need to focus on. But I need to maintain that canter to and over the fence and on landing. That canter needs to be balanced and uphill and powerful. I practiced Kelly's stuff and played scientist. :) I played with what I had, added leg when needed, half halted when needed, and applied a smack behind the leg when needed. And Fleck was great.
Beth had us start by doing a figure 8 at the trot but he wasn't allowed to not be round and soft. No inverting, no hollowing, no bracing. Then we took it to the canter and did simple changes. Beth said that I should do that in my warm up and keep that in the stadium ring. If I had that softness and that powerful bouncy canter, there's no reason he couldn't jump prelim fences. But the canter I had in the video.. he couldn't jump prelim. No horse could. So then we went to the wheel of death jump thing. It was a barrel in the middle with four "spokes" that were verticals. We started with it small with the barrel on it's side. She had me do a cloverleaf type pattern. I jumped the first vertical, did a roll back and jumped the next one, another roll back to the next one, etc. We did that a few times focusing on keeping Fleck balanced and revved but soft and round and not braced or inverted. It worked too!! I had to take a much bigger connection with tighter reins, but it was good for him. He liked it too. Like Kelly said, about 10 pounds of pressure in the reins. Fleck was much more balanced and despite slipping behind a few times, he managed most of his changes and we had some awesome jumps. He got deep to the base and still never jumped over his shoulder. Then Beth upped it to the upright barrel with corresponding height of the verticals and we did the same thing. Again, it worked! We had a few moments, but in general, Fleck was balanced, rocked back, energized and bouncy. Pony's got hops!!
After we did that and got some good rides on both leads in the cloverleaf she had us got to a vertical and then come back around and jump the barrel in the middle of the verticals. I couldn't quite manage the right striding to the vertical. I always seemed to be just a hair too long so I kept adding. And it was awfully tight to add, but despite that, Fleck managed to get over it and a once or twice he really sproinged up in the air!! At one point it felt like he double bounced on a trampoline. ;) Then we did the other way again and jumped a slight bent line to the hanging brick wall, which intimidates me for some reason, and then back around to the barrel again. The trick was to get the same ride over the single fences as I did through the cloverleaf. We were both getting tired, so it wasn't as pretty as it could have been, but we got the job done and accomplished the point of the day. And we finished with a beautiful jump over the stone wall!
Fleck felt great and was tired but not unwilling to jump or unsound. He felt great and was still bouncy enough heading back to the trailer. And Dan. ;)
Yay! it was a very encouraging day. We both can learn. We both can jump big and not fall apart. And...I think we can do it. The question will just be "do I want too still" and which show. But I think I'll play and lesson and get better over the Winter and then decide what to do. I just want it to be fun again.