Monday was the Day of Bounces! JLB cancelled, so it was just Belle and I. We started with eight raised ground rails in a row, then slowly put them up until we topped out with a couple of jumps at 2’0″. This was a hard lesson for the Pony, since I had to press her for a lot of momentum. She tripped over one of the jumps at one point and lost her confidence, so we had a couple of refusals. Things got much better when I kept my head up and stayed out of the saddle so that she could jump up to me.
I got to watch the cute pony stallion in our barn do the exercise in the lesson before me, too!
Tuesday I started out walk/trot with Ezhno and then ended up spewing out all of my insecurities to the Trainer in one big, fast gush (“I want to canter more, but he misses his lead and I don’t want to ruin him and maybe I should just never canter ever and and and“). The Trainer gave me some tips for getting the correct lead and encouraged me to canter more with him (after she laughed at me, of course 🙂 ). We ended up doing a lot of cantering and we got our left lead quite a few times.
On Wednesday the Trainer and I tackled the stuff they’ve been working on during Ezhno’s training sessions. She had me pick up a lot more contact than I’ve been riding him on (“He’s an English pony now!”), then we did circles and figure 8’s with an emphasis on yielding to the new frame. I had to bump him off of my reins a few times, but mostly he just tried to lag behind my leg. I’m still adjusting to the longer stirrup length, so the Trainer tied my leathers to my cinch with baling twine to help stabilize me before we cantered. We had a big fight about giving to the contact, but eventually he started softening a bit so we let him end on a good note and the Trainer praised the timing of my corrections!
Wednesday’s fight about contact carried over to Thursday. He gets frustrated at the walk (he can be really pokey), but he’s a pro at framing up at the trot. The canter, on the other hand… well, I asked him to frame up and he blew me off, so I decided he could keep cantering until he decided to give to me. We cantered forever. By the time he started to yield to the contact, he was exhausted. I gave him a walk break, tested out his left lead, and he went straight to giving to the reins instead of throwing a fit! We ended with some turn on the haunches/forehand (good, not great) and then I gave him a nice currying before I put him away.
Friday and Saturday were both very short rides. My area had a big storm blow through, so I only took him out for exposure to the scary environment. He did really well as long as he was in frame and focused on me. We had one small spook and we kept it to walk/trot only, but I consider that pretty impressive since it was so rainy and windy out that water was blowing into the arena through the netting we have up to keep dust and debris out. At one point I could barely see, the rain was so ferocious!
I didn’t give Ezhno a day off, since Friday and Saturday were both light rides and I figured he might enjoy some time out of his stall on Sunday after being cooped up all weekend. We had some arguments about framing at the walk and trot, but his rein back and his laterals have gotten so much better. I didn’t want to fight over his frame at the canter, so we worked on his left lead (we only missed it once!), the idea of walk to canter, and canter to walk transitions (Big Horse has some nice whoa to him). We did a bit of showmanship while he was cooling off, too.