I am starting to fall behind in my writing. Lets hope I remember all the details!
I had forgot to mention, how on Saturday, my big furry beast was a mess of sweat. Hes already so hairy, its as thick as my half Persian cat. I dread the thought of having to clip him, he didn’t take too kindly to the idea of clippers last year. Hes a different horse than a year ago, but I am still worried it may never happen since still by the end of summer, his hatred for wet sponges had not yet disappeared. I can imagine clippers will be 10x worse. So I have a plan for this, I’m bringing my old electric toothbrush to the barn. I’m going to get him used to the buzzing and vibration without any blades or investment in a clipper. We will see how that works, because hes going to need it!
So with this in mind, I wanted to put more weight on the start of our ride, and keep it casual toward the end to try and dry him off more. We started in the ring. After the excitement the day before, I thought it necessary to give him a good schooling to get his head where I wanted it, and then go out and have fun in the fields.
We didn’t try anything new, just worked on circles, serpentines and leg yielding in walk and trot. As usual, he was stiffer going clockwise (right bend) so we worked more on it. We didn’t get it to be completely even, but enough improvement that I was happy with it. We immediately tried getting the right lead canter, and after a few tries and excited head to the left and nose to the sky jigging, I brought him back to walk. I could tell that I was putting barely any weight in my left stirrup. Not just when I was asking, but all the time. From that point on, I consciously tried to over exaggerate the weight in my left foot and kept tighter reins. After one more failed attempt, I exaggerated a bit more, and there we had it, right lead canter! This is going to take a lot of retraining for me! We went around the ring a few times, adding in some circles with me practicing my left stirrup weight.
Since we got that, we did an easy canter in the left lead, also doing a few nice circles, working on keeping him up straight, not leaning into the turn.
We came back to the walk and left the ring, just in time to meet Laura riding Fancy. Together we walked around the fields for a good half an hour, chatting and enjoying the day. Fancy was coming off an injury and couldn’t do more than that. Just before she went to go in the barn, we came across Tara, the landlords daughter on her horse Charlotte. The two of us decided to pick up the pace a little and have some fun before I had to go back to work.
I asked “Are we allowed to jump the xc fences when not in a lesson” she said “oh ya!” and we were immediately off over a little log. Bentley bounded to it happily and over it like a superstar, Tara followed. We took turns choosing jumps to go over and who led. We even did 3 in a row that were about 8 strides apart, but around a curve and up gradual hill. The middle one was large (for us) but Bentley was happy to do it, just looking for the next one in a happy gallop. We also did the steps up and bank down, which was just another day on the job for him!
Our last jump, Tara picked was a tire jump. It was very inviting, had big wings on the side, but it was a little unexpected. We had just been walking for a while and she picked up the trot without word only a few metres out and popped over it. I was right beside her and hadn’t expected it, so I did a small trot circle to warm up a bit and approached it. Well, I should have done a much larger circle and got a lot more impulsion because Bentley hesitated to look at the jump.
In all our experience together, if he hesitates, he wont jump and wants a reapproach. So in that fraction of a moment, I sat back, expecting the stop. Instead, he leaped over it like a deer. Boing!!! I went straight up toward the sky, a foot above my saddle, my feet staying in the stirrups, but instead at the top of my stirrups. He landed on all fours, and I came straight back down into the saddle. No falling, but ouch, the concussion of landing bothered my bad knee! It was a hard land. Bentley didn’t even seem to notice it was a bad jump “Hey mum, look we got over!” No harm done, but I have learned my lesson: strong approach! In a way, it does make me happy too because he tried even though he wasn’t sure (me too!) which must mean his confidence is really coming along.
I learned another thing too. Communicate with your riding buddies! Perhaps if I had set a precedent before of calling out my intentions, it would have been reciprocated and I would have had better notice of the jump. After all, I was the one who instigated the “lets tear across the xc field” thing.