After my return from Rolex I had a lot of work to do, I had almost no time to put finishing touches on things. I had a lesson on Wednesday and H was very pleased with how the TWH had come in his dressage. Our things to work on were the freewalk, getting him to basically flatwalk with a low, forward headset, and our turn up the centerline at the end of our test not becoming a pivot/turn up the centerline. Our canter to trot transitions have come along tremendously and he is picking up the trot almost immediately without a pacing step. Our canter transitions up are amazing with good push and hop.
The lesson went well and H found one of the bigger reasons we were getting a pivot/turn up the centerline instead of a 10m circle was, no big surprise, my body was refusing to put weight in my right stirrup. I was telling it to but my body was refusing to cooperate. Thus we worked on that for about half of the lesson. At the end I asked her opinion of where the thought we could go in the training progression and she made a good point. She wants us to be at Novice level by the end of this year or beginning of next year and she thinks he will make a fantastic Novice level horse. However. She doesn't think he will make a competitive Training level horse because he won't ever be able to make it in dressage. His gaitedness will work against him and he can't help it. It is a little frustrating but I completely understand and agree, he doesn't ever truly connect hind leg to rein through his back because while he looks like he is trotting, he is actually just moving his legs in the trotting motion I asked. Like he learned dance steps and he is performing them. Looks like I will probably be looking for a third horse by the end of the year, we will see I guess.
Saturday was, unfortunately, the only day I had to school the cross country course. I was supposed to school it April 20th and the course was closed due to very wet conditions. It was rescheduled for April 27th however that was when I was down at Rolex and so the May 4th date was the only one I could possibly go to. Not ideal but it was all I could do. Cross country schooling started out with a nice, solid warmup and a nice, solid run out at the first cross country jump I pointed the TWH at. Not the way I wanted to start the day! I gave him several very aggressive pokes with my spurs to let him know it wasn't acceptable and pointed him at the jump again. I kept my reins long and wide, funneling him to the jump as he couldn't turn his head left or right. He tried to dodge to the left, then tried to dodge to the right and then just lept over it. Yay! I made him go over it a couple more times and he gave me no issues so off we went to school the course.
Jumps 1-3 were big crossrails and except for the first jump, I didn't even send him over the jumps a second time. Jump 4 was a nice solid log and I sat back and pushed, pushed, pushed. Not only did the TWH go over it, he didn't even think about refusing! I jumped him over the novice log beside it just for good measure and he was spot on, he jumped it like it was 18". We jumped number 5 which had some hay bales and then pointed ourselves to the novice jump beside it. It was scary looking. I knew he would refuse at it, it was a red jump with dying brush sticking out of the top of it. It was also wide with brush at the bottom of the jump. SO asked if I wanted pictures and I said sure, if nothing else to see what he does when he refuses. I picked up a VERY forward canter and kept long reins to funnel him to the jump. I gave him a huge jab right at the base of the jump and it turned out that I didn't need to. TWH jumped it, no soared over it. No questioning me about out, no spooking at it, just jumped it. OMG I am SO PROUD!!
After playing with more jumps we went to the water, we had the option to just trot in/out of the water OR we could jump a log and land IN the water and trot out. Can you guess what we did? We jumped the log! I say jump loosely, however, because he just took it as a big canter stride and never did tuck up and fully jump it. Haha! We played with jumping in and out of the water and then played with jumping up/down a little back into the water. I then brought him to the 2' bank section of the water and after a couple of nudges of encouragement he jumped up and down the bank. Good cross country horse! To finish I pointed him to the Training level water question, a big ol 3'6" bank up out of the water. I cantered him through the water and after a step of confusion he figured it out what I was asking and jumped up the bank without issues. Yay!!
After the water I ran the entire course to see how he felt and he felt great. The optimum time was 4:58 and we came in right on time with no refusals or even sticky spots. Go us, we are ready for our show!