To build Hemie's confidence in different settings, we've been going on at least one trail ride a week. We have one main trail "loop" that takes about 25 minutes. We've done it a few times in both directions, and have even incorporated controlled trot and canter sets. Hemie is very willing to stretch out, but also very respectful when I ask him to come back. <3 Such a sweet boy.
|Canter hill through the lemon groves.|
|Trot track on the top hill.|
August 5th (only 1 week after our first show) Hemie and I did our first official cross country schooling. It went FABULOUS!!! I was so pleased - most importantly, we both had fun. As a bonus, he learned a lot and the experience helped us grow together as a pair (building trust, improving communication, etc). Here's some video (thanks, hubbykins!).
Look out for special moments:
1:25 - Giant Log!
1:28 - First down bank.
2:02 - Drifting issue (getting better addressed at 2:28)
3:00 - Getting stuck issue (it gets worked on at 3:30)
4:13 - First ditch.
4:27 - Hemie stepping hind leg down into ditch. =P
Can you tell that Hemie really thinks we should canter rather than trot all the jumps? I'm still balancing trying to get him to trot but not getting in his way right before the jump.
Also, here's some photos:
|My fabulous trainer, Laurie Canty, riding her horse Elton in this shot.|
|Our first solid jump. We walked over it. Good confidence-builder. ;)|
|Hemie is becoming a pro with water.|
A week later, we had our first real flat lesson. It still was in a jump saddle, but the lesson took place in the dressage arena and focused on connection, straightness in his hips, and rhythm. Hemie was surprisingly happy and willing (he normally perks up when we jump - but was fine without). Laurie gave me a light-bulb moment: Hemie shied away from something, and I instantly moved him back towards that area with leg, but Hemie resisted. So Laurie had me immediately turn and then repeat the school of moving off the leg about 10 meters away. That separated the concept of moving off the leg from the scary object. After working on the school a few times, it was much more useful in getting him back towards the shy-point.
After the flat lesson we checked the fit of the jump saddle. Up to this point, I've been using a regular pad plus a sheepskin half-pad as my saddle is wide and Hemie was skinny. Well, he's not as skinny anymore, and I've been feeling that my saddle was no longer fitting well. We took out the half-pad and its setting better on him. He has surprisingly large shoulder blades. We also tried on my dressage saddle, and it seems to fit him very well right now. He still needs to gain some weight, so both saddles will need to be reevaluated again once he's at his goal physique. But for now, no sheepskin, and the saddles are okay.