I am right now FLOATING on some cloud somewhere a little above Cloud Nine. I think I’m on 10 or maybe even 12. LOL.
Earlier this week I took advantage of what I knew was probably going to be the last 60+ temp evening for the year and rode Chewbacca. It had rained for 2 days before that and the sand in the outdoor arena was very wet. The ride was not as delightful as I hoped it would be and it concerned me. I was worried maybe he was still sore from his injury about 2 weeks before that, or that I was pushing him too hard to fast, or that I am just in general riding him wrong… or the thousand and ten other things that I constantly find myself second guessing myself about since I have ***ZERO*** confidence what-so-ever in anything that I used to be able to do.
So, I warily packed him up today for a lesson. I wanted to get a lesson before I chose to board him at my trainer’s extremely expensive barn that I’ve been saving for 2+ months just to board there for 1 month. I needed to see if he just felt weird because he was slipping around a bit in wet sand. I mean, really… wouldn’t you be? I know I would be slipping around and twisting my toes sideways to try to walk in wet sand… let alone jog or run flat out.
If he was good for his lesson (sound and working fine), he would simply stay at my trainer’s barn for the duration of November. If he did not pan out so well, he would come back to the regular barn and I’d have the vet out (again….)
We rode. Got there a little late and tacked up late and warmed up late, but the trainer was also running behind with her lesson schedule a little bit so it worked out well.
He felt GREAT on the warmup. Really no problems. Other than the bit of laziness through the hind end (something he’s had since I met him), he was perfect. When I pushed on him, he really really tracked up well and found the bit and just felt and looked beautiful and I couldn’t be more proud.
So, then, for the third time only since I’ve owned him, I turned Chewbacca onto the crossrail in front of us and trotted over it a few times. OK. Enough “warm up”. We cantered off and for the first time, cantered over a jump. Back and forth several times over that cross rail we went, and then… we cantered two fences.
IT WAS AWESOME!!! The crossrail was low, very low, like maybe 12″ but the vertical I took him over right after that was more like 2′ tall and he just went dead on to it and right over. He jumped a little bit round and high, and knocked the rail down one try, but hey.. it’s not like he’s got a jumping form yet. He’s just learning.
I don’t know what is more COOOL… the fact that the horse is fine for work… the fact that he really just went right along and lived up to every challenge we put him to today… that I am the only one who’s been working him , so I got to start him over fences over a month ago and I get to ride him through each step of the way as the fences get higher and the course gets harder… or the fact that he just seems SO DAMNED GOOD AT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He really seems to like jumping. We really pushed his butt today. We did a lot of jumping, and since he’s never been cantered over fences before other than today, we did a lot of work for him. He was sweaty when we were done, and so was I. But he just jumped around beautifully and it was really nice to be in the company of others (at one point there were 5 other riders in the arena with us). He really did superb.. tremendous.. just simply cannot be described in words how great he did.
I really feel very confident going forward at this point. I don’t know how much father we will be by the end of the month, but I really feel that with the consistency and training we’ll get for the next 30 days, he will do wonderfully well, and he’ll be very grateful for his “winter break” starting in December!
I like to hope that all the work I’ve done with Chewie on my own over trotting poles has simply reinforced his confidence to do the work over fences… not that I expect him to *never* stop at a fence, but I hope that my encouragement to always go over or through the fence, no matter how ugly the jump is or off the striding is.. just go forward… I hope that this method of starting him will help him to feel confident about jumping consistently. If today was any indication, I think it will. He seemed super-confident about jumping, never blinked at anything, and NEVER thought about slowing his stride or stopping. I know it helps that I know how to jump as a rider, so I’m confident to push him forward, which I hope also adds to mix in helping him stay steady and true over fences, but mostly I think it’s just because he is such an incredibly good-minded horse with a willing work ethic that he’ll learn to be a hunter through and through.
Today was a truly exceptional ride. I am so elated on so many levels.
I also completed the Photo-a-Day equine photographer’s challenge, please have a look at the last 31 days of horse photos on my photography blog to the right.. ….
I’m glad it’s over, but it was a fun and rewarding experience that I can take away a lot of learning from.
In the mean time, I have a short video uploading to YouTube right now, which will be ready sometime tonight, from today’s lesson. My husband not only graciously took me to the barn, but he recorded half of my ride, too, which was awesome… and he got all my jumping in, from a very good spot in the arena. I’ll get that video posted here in the morning.
In the mean time… I’m beat, so good night and Happy Halloween!