This past Saturday we kicked off the month of October with a schooling down at Galway Downs in Temecula. Finally, finally, finally - a schooling that felt positive as well as productive!
From the moment I showed up at the barn, I really focused on being calm, focused, and happy - and making sure that Spirit felt that way too. I gave her lots of treats and pats. When we got to Galway, again I made sure she was happy - treats, pats, not rushing around like a crazy person. We headed out to the warm up ring and from the first trot I demanded that Spirit be slow, calm, listening. She caught on real quick, and it felt more like dressage than a jumping warm up.
Then it came time for our first fence. It was a solid log out in the field. We left the starting box at a trot, and I had her up and forward, and then she stopped. We were like 10 feet from the jump. She danced to the right, so I pulled her left. Wrong move - my trainer wanted to know why I was pulling her off the line. I thought that it was a refusal - turns out, it wasn't. I needed to kick her on forward and make her jump it. Rest assured, I won't make that mistake twice. We reapproached and jumped fine. We did it the other way too, and did fine. Then we did the next fence, and the next one after. After screwing up on the first approach, I finally "got it" - the feel of how it needs to be. Balanced and not rushed, but still very forward - the feeling of her pulling on the reins, eager for the jump. I need to tap and kick well ahead of time, then keep her together and not let her squirt out. Straight and FORWARD.
Spirit and I both really enjoyed ourselves. It was challenging but rewarding. And most importantly, we both had fun. Time to send in entries for the October 22-23 Ram Tap show.
Meanwhile, I had two barn-mates with me. Jessica and her horse Storm did fantastic - they were bouncy and light and soared over jumps, and they were very straight (something they've been working on). Ashley and Brodie were out-of-this-world fantastic. They are gearing up for the half-star in November, so they did mostly prelim stuff. I looked at the jumps and thought "Surely you aren't jumping that one, right? Oh, you are?! OMG" They did some corners that made my eyes bug out, and they jumped over the duck in the water. Love it!
This past Thursday, I had a dressage lesson and sealed the deal with being on the bit the whole time. =) And let me tell you, it is paying off ten-fold - I can actually fix all my problems now by simply by adding leg and giving a small little squeeze of the rein.