Tonight Soonie and I completed the next step toward jumping! We did our second real ground pole school this evening, including raised cavaletti (poles raised off the ground). He has trotted over poles before, and obviously that was a non-issue. I'm not even sure why I'm blogging about it...but again, I'm a little loopy from the ZZzzQuil and just totally head over heels in love with my new horse, so this post seems like a good idea.
He was truly amazing tonight. He was back in his oval mouth bit, having switched back to that from the other one I had him in briefly. He's is learning so fast it almost blows my mind! He was very soft today, and he is getting the concept of moving off my leg and into the contact with the bit, and being round through his entire topline. Yes, I realize that makes absolutely no sense to my non-horsey friends that might be reading this entry, and are now wishing they weren't reading it. For those folks: my horse is awesome. For the horsey people, Soon is really starting to carry himself, stretch down and through his topline, and is having real moments of brilliance that my esteemed eventing and dressage purist brethren might actually not laugh at.
I was super impressed after the first 10 minutes of walk circles/stretches and almost got off (hey, it's been high 90's/low 100's all week, and "balls hot" is a great excuse not to do anything BUT walk around). He even did 10 meter circles to the right without falling out through the left shoulder! Seriously, this is what we usually look like when we turn right:
But not tonight! He was much better balanced at the walk and trot going to the right. So in addition to the immediate fantastic stretching at the walk, and the turning right without losing our wheels, he also was just as great and soft in the trot, BOTH directions. He had moments of real self carriage, which is spotty right now because his muscles just aren't developed to sustain that yet. We're getting there though, and way faster than I expected or hoped for. :)
We did ground poles on a circle to encourage him to stretch down and push from behind. Then we graduated to doing a set of four trot poles, the center two being raised on opposite ends to give him something to think about. He did great, and didn't bat an eye. Even when he got slightly flustered and rushed just a tiny bit, I rode a little more actively and asked him to settle and whoa...he trotted right on through beautifully, in perfect tempo and straight. He listens SO well and is SO willing that it just about blows my mind. He is such a joy to work with.
Working up to long series of alternating raised cavaletti can do wonders for developing the trot gait, but this evening I used them as a stepping stone to going over fences. Our first jump school is on Monday, and I am sure he will take to it just fine. I'm not planning on rushing anything in his training. We'll do another ground pole session before actually jumping on Monday. And by "jumping," I mean probably just trotting whatever my trainer sets up, because Soon isn't exactly a firecracker...
ZzzQuil is fun!