Flying orange pony
In an effort to keep on keeping on for as long as possible, Coolie and I went for a lesson! He was so not thrilled to go for a ride but he perked up considerably when he realised he was going on the float. It was so funny, his whole body language changed and he was quite pleased I think!
I went back and forth a bit trying to decide which bit to ride him in, I've been riding him in his snaffle at home, jumping, everything and he's been great. I used his universal at the clinic and didn't feel I needed it so I had both wit me but had the snaffle to start. I would never had dreamed of trying before, especially with no rings on my breastplate and no drop noseband!
Warming up I got Coolie to stretch down and out, something we have been working on at home a lot, and he is slowly getting better at. He was quite good for him really, and he was feeling peppy and keen! We then trotted over poles keeping him stretching out. He was quite a good boy and tried his best, he also maintained the same rhythm through the poles. He was the same at canter too, it doesn't seem like a big deal for a fiery orange red head, it really is.
In canter Coolie was drifting very slightly right so I leg yielded left to keep him stepping under himself and straight which fixed the problem. He didn't want to step under and across, so we had a brief argument about it but I won. He is a lot more resistant than Henry, thats for sure!
Once we were straight the middle pole was put up to a straight with placing poles. Coolie maintained the same canter throughout the exercise, so we repeated it about 3 times off each rein before it was made into a wide oxer to encourage him to jump neatly and with a better style. Again, he didn't change his canter at all, though the flying change on landing proved to be very exciting, so I did a simple change through walk when required to help keep everything nice and quiet.
We added in a little green barrel upright before the oxer, the idea being we slip over the little upright, thinking turn in the air, turn tightly and keep the same steady rhythm to the oxer. That was easy peasy, Coolie didn't change a thing and we got it done first time. We then did oxer to upright and again we got it done, with a smooth, quiet change through the turn.
Right before we gave that a go I had been telling Bec that I just get on with riding Coolie, I know he can do it so we get it done. I don't feel nervous, and I don't baby him like I do with Henry. Then we went and nailed that tight line and it was easy. I don't think it would have been that easy with Henry, and I think thats because I would have over thought it. I need to take that attitude over the Henry a bit more, it's not that I don't feel confident I think I more forget he is very capable and now needs to get on with it a bit more.
Bec had a similar exercise set up to the last jumping lesson Henry and I had, a diamond but this time the striding was set at one 2 stride line and one 3 stride line. We jumped the first oxer form the quieter, collected canter then moved up slightly to come into the 2 stride line which was set as an upright to upright. The first time through I was so determined to get a bigger canter I over did it, Coolie chipped and it was a bit of a mess. We got it done, but restarted, this time maintaining a better canter and eliminating the chip.
Second time through Coolie accelerated slightly through the line so Bec had me count out loud but in a steady, calm voice to mimic the canter I want. It was super interesting, the 2 stride line was lovely, but Coolie accelerated through the 3 stride line, and my counting got more determined and less relaxed! Third time was so much better, my counting still changed as Coolie changed but my body mimicked the calm quiet ride I wanted better and Coolie was much steadier.
To finish we reversed the last line so I jumped the upright before the oxer to see if that helped wit our rhythm before coming over and jumping the first oxer last. Coolie was much quieter and stayed steady throughout the whole exercise.
It amazes me hoe different Coolie feels now I am a more educated rider. He responds to my body better and I can keep out of his way so his jumping technique is the best it's ever been. He was spending longer in the air and was really using himself well. He is still stiff and resistant, keen to go quickly but he is responsive and more relaxed than ever. He feels so great and it's nice to think we are picking back up where we left off, and that while there is heaps to improve, we might actually be able to go out and really improve in the show jumping ring.
I also can't wait for Henry to come back into work and replicate the same feeling I have on Coolie. It should be easy, I just have to get him more forward and listening to my leg. Coolie is very hot off the leg and Hen is not which certainly gives a different feeling, and probably accounts for some of why I don't feel quite as solid in Henry.