That’s what I’m talking about! My woo-hoo!! day finally arrived! We put 2 jumps together at the canter today! Next stop, an entire course!
Cotton has had some extra time off because of my busy life outside of Oak Hill Farm so when I do ride I’m really trying to make it count. As you know, I’ve been working on half-halts at the canter to get his weight back over his hind end. Today I decided to work on that where it really matters – on our landings after jumps. He practically eats dirt after his jumps and that just ain’t gonna cut it.
If I had tried working on this much earlier I don’t think I would have gotten the same result. It’s taken awhile for me to learn to ride with light hands and an impressive seat and for Cotton to obey me rather than blow me off and for us to trust that the other will be consistent in those ways.
Cotton was going really well and as we jumped each fence individually he listened to me and brought his head up and gathered his hind end. I even did roll-back turns after the jumps! He didn’t switch leads, he didn’t toss his head, he didn’t throw his head up and rush – he was balanced; he was bouncy; he was listening! So much so that I even threw in a flying lead change a couple of times!
OK, y’all do not know what a big deal that was…let me tell you – I’ve never really learned the aids for flying lead changes and I’ve only asked for about 4 in my entire life until today – now my total is 6, well, actually 7 – he didn’t do it one time when I asked today. Lesley gave me the basics during a lesson a long time ago and Cotton did it then so I was going off of what little I remembered about that and watching videos on You Tube that she posted.
With things going so well it was only natural to keep going. Two of the jumps I had lowered just for us (someone had been out there jumping 4 foot monsters!) were on a left bending line - perfect for his “land on the left lead” habit. I think it surprised him that I wanted to keep going but he made it to the next jump smooth and calm and I didn’t pull on him. We did one last hair-pin turn afterwards, in excellent balance, to end on an extra positive note.
I was very tempted to do it again… and maybe I should have… but I was satisfied with having had such a productive day and didn’t want to mess it up. As a reward I let Cotton splash through the puddle in the corner that is always there after a heavy rain.
We both smiled all the way back to the barn.