The TWH and I have a show this Sunday, a schooling show over fences and some flat classes. This one is supposed to be a much smaller show and shouldn't have as much competition as the rated show we went to. As a result I am dragging myself out of bed at 5a every day to ride. 5a comes SOOO early.
Yesterday during our ride (when it wasn't even light yet) the TWH was a pill. He decided that contact with his mouth wasn't going to be acceptable, consistent gaits were not acceptable, he constantly threw his head and even threatened an elevation issue! After reminding him that elevation issues are absolutely, positively not acceptable and inspecting him I found no obvious issues so I schooled him pretty hard in manners. RB3 had been riding him and isn't nearly as strict in the expectations department nor does she ride with contact, she prefers to ride one handed and neck rein. Unfortunately we didn't get too much accomplished thanks to having to revisit some basics but the ride ended on a pretty good note of going over a 2' vertical.
This mornings ride was much, much better. First I brought my measuring tape out to the arena to measure my distances, I have been eyeballing/walking them and suspected they were off. They certainly were and it is no wonder the TWH has a hard time sometimes, my 2 stride distance was a little over 4 feet too short! I corrected the distance and put placing poles down to hopefully make the ride go smoother. TWH started the ride fussing about contact but I insisted he would have contact and drove him forward into my hand and didn't back off. After about a 10 min warmup he relaxed into his normal demeanor. I put him over the line of 2 1' verticals and forced him to keep his frame over them and he did pretty well. He did switch his hind lead once but didn't make a habit out of it.
I bumped the jumps up to 2' and put him over them again and while they weren't perfect, I was able to get a series of 3 jumps where he kept the correct lead the entire line. Big improvement! I really tried hard on working to keep him collected which was really hard in the line with the longer distance. I realize it is the correct distance now however he really likes to fall on his forehand and go faster over these jumps. On the plus side the ground line (and probably distance) really seems to help him get over the fence by making him jump earlier. An issue I have been having is him getting right to the very base of the jump before jumping, resulting in a very awkward jump.
Because our show has jumps up to 2'3" I threw it up to 2'6" to challenge him. I don't typically jump at 2'6", normally I keep it at 2' or 2'3" but I pointed him to the line and he immediately knocked the first jump down but threw an impressive effort to get over the second jump. I am so thrilled that he as decided to figure the jumps out instead of backing off of them! We did have a few lead issues as it was pretty difficult to keep him collected in between the jumps. I am going to have to really think about how to fix this issue.
Then I did something I didn't expect to do. I got curious. I wondered what TWH would do if, perhaps, it got harder? Then I did it. I still can't believe I did it but I did. I put the second jump up to 3 foot. And I put the TWH OVER IT!!! And it went perfectly! He didn't hesitate at the second jump, he saw it was higher and just put in a bigger effort and we sailed over it! I am SO happy. If you had told me this time last year I would randomly throw the TWH over a 3' fence while strapped to his back I would told you that you were insane but I did it. I only did it once and called it a day, not sure if I will do it again tomorrow or not. He was fairly effortless over it but I think I will work him at 2'6" for a little longer and then try it again. On the bright side I am having a lesson from an actual eventing trainer next Wednesday and she will be evaluating my TWH. Here's to hoping things go well!