So this week's jumping lesson was really not what I was hoping for. Soon was very up (excited), while he's had a few "whee" moments out in the wide open jump field in the past, he was like a totally different horse in the lesson. Hot, running through my aids, running on the landing side of the fences, just overall being a much more difficult ride than I'm used to having with him. Where the first lesson we did some very tough questions with turns, this past lesson we had to take a few steps back and simplify in order to just concentrate on having some rhythm. Technical questions were definitely not happening, we were just shooting for a couple of fences where he didn't completely blow me off.
I'm trying to just chock it up to a bad day, we are all subject to having an off day here and there. I felt a little stupid having to explain to the trainer that this horse will jump around like a hunter (quiet, metronome-like canter, very soft and easy going ride and consistent) when we were struggling like that. No, I don't think it's his grain. Yes, the open jump field is still relatively new for him. Yes, he just jumped last Saturday. No, this is absolutely not normal. Yes, I know how to ride my own horse. No, I am not a crazy excuse making person. When you're so used to a certain ride, and out of nowhere the horse does a complete 180 and you have a totally different horse underneath you, it can be a surprise. Part of me wanted to just call it about halfway through given how poorly it was going, but thankfully we got to a good spot by the end, had a couple of good, soft fences, and called it a night.
This trainer is fantastic and we all have bad rides, but coming off of so many great lessons where we accomplish so much, and then having one where we take about 10 steps backward is disappointing, I suppose. I was also in a bit of physical pain due to some ongoing issues, so that wasn't helping either. However, it's all about finding perspective. Before I left the barn, I tried to think of it in terms of what I learned. Yes, I just shelled out cash for that rodeo exhibition, but there is always something valuable in even the worst ride ever (which this was far from in the grand scheme of things). I learned a new technique to use to get a hot horse to the base of the jump (ask yourself which front foot left last. Seriously, try it, it's amazing!). We worked through staying softer in the seat/taller in the upper body to the base on a rushing horse. We got a horse who by all means was saying "fuck you I'm running" to take a breath, stay in the rhythm, and have a couple of decent jumps. It wasn't the ass-kicking awesome lesson that we had several of prior to, but it was still productive. And the horse was happy.
Soon might be a little sore from the work we've been doing with him on the flat (bringing his outline up and shorter), as that is asking more from him in terms of balance and muscling, so he got Friday off and today's flat school was light. He felt good today, and both on the shorter rein and in the stretch he was giving me a nice, big swinging trot. We stretched in the canter a bit too. I really wanted to work out in the jump field, around the fences, up and down the hill, and have him just relax and take a breath out there. He did, it was overall a nice flat ride. I gave him a liniment bath afterward (not sure he was a fan of that, he didn't like the smell!) and I hope that might help with any muscle soreness. We have a hack tomorrow and will probably do another liniment bath as a follow up.
Little Miss Zensational got the Gold Star today. Her trot is coming together a little more with each ride, today she was much more consistent in the bridle, better bending around my leg, and had a little more push from behind. She just felt so much more balanced than ever before, even if it's only for 10 or so strides at a time. We cantered a little bit today too, just so I could see what she was like. No drama, quiet in the upward and downward transitions, and a complete mess in the middle. If I put flippers on and tried to run, that's what her canter felt like. But she was super willing, well behaved as usual, and was trying her little heart out. We did a couple loops on each lead and then went back for a quick trot review before I called it a day. I'll revisit the canter at a later time after her trot work comes together better. At least now I can say she's fine in the canter. Afterward, we went on an adventure to the jump field, took a sniff of all the fences, and she was totally chill. I'll work her out there instead of the indoor in the future.