After we did so well in our last show, I immediately sent in my registration for the derby with the Novice box clearly checked. We are moving up a level! I then downloaded the new dressage test so I could practice, CRAP!!! It was a good thing my entry was in the mail, otherwise I might have changed that little box. Lots of 10m half circles to turn up centerline and a canter/trot transition at B-F with a turn up centerline?!?!? Am I insane??? What did I get myself into.
Thankfully I have had 2 weeks to work on it and I will say, we are getting closer. We have been schooling 10m circles pretty hard and the canter/trot transitions are getting there too. I am fairly concerned with the balance we will have after our last canter/trot transition as we turn up centerline, very good possibility that inside shoulder will drop but I keep telling myself if nothing else it is only 10 points. Ugh. Our canter is awesome, our canter up transition is awesome. Our circles are great and as long as the TWH doesn't plow on his forehand, his trot is really good. His free walk is really good if I refuse to let him have a long rein until that moment lol. We are still playing with it. I also had a dressage lesson Tuesday night, stuff to practice!
This past weekend, however, we went cross country schooling. Since I am riding novice, I wanted to jump novice jumps and perhaps, maybe, if not too scary, try some, perhaps, baby training jumps???? Novice jumps are a max of 2'11" and training is 3'3". A pretty big difference from the 2'6" jumps we have been showing but I want him to go over whatever I point him at and he has been doing well so.... time to move up?!
We started over jump 4 that was at our last show, the one with the red roof in the previous post, and he was a little funny to it. Not bad but he added a gaited step in with our canter right before jumping it. Almost like he wasn't sure of the distance. H had us try again and had me keep leg on to keep the energy going and he jumped it like it wasn't there. Now that was a better start to the day! We put some jumps together and did 3 in a row, jumping the beginner novice jump and then 2 novice jumps. If I kept my leg on he was great, even at the funny looking flower bench and jumped the novice table SO awesomely. He felt like a well oiled, knowledgeable machine instead of a green bean!
We played in the water and H seemed really impressed with how well he is starting to jump now. She said he has made remarkable improvement, go us! We meandered over to the "high meadow" and found ourselves at the banks. My App loved the banks and I miss not being able to ride him to them, time to see how the TWH would handle them. I seemed to have done my homework with introducing little banks down through the past couple of years as when I asked him to go down a 3'6" drop he did without having to ask twice! No kicking at all! We were both impressed with his willingness to try something so new. We circled around and attempted to go up 3 consecutive 3' banks up but poor TWH didn't yet have the engine to get up all three. I was only able to boot him up 2 banks before he gave out and so I didn't even ask for the 3rd bank as I didn't want him to have to tell me no. Don't ask a question you don't want to know the answer to right?!?! After a couple of tries he was able to get up 2 banks decently so we put a small course together of going up 2 3' banks, jumping an oxer, circling around, jumping a hanging log that is 3 strides out to the 3'6" drop. Yowsers, definitely a training level question!! Not only did the TWH do it beautifully, he didn't even pause at the drop!!! He came up to it and hopped down like it was no big deal. AWESOME HORSE!!
We played with ditches a little and the TWH is getting much, much better with ditches. He has been stopping at them and this time he paused but didn't stop, stare, ponder, leap. This time he paused, looked, jumped. Progress indeed! After the ditch H had us try our first, true Training sized fence. It is a rather inviting 3' ascending, 3 bar vertical. The first time over the TWH wasn't sure how to jump it and jumped straight up and over instead of being round-ish, it was a pretty rough landing but there wasn't any refusing or hesitation. Yay! After schooling it a couple more times until the TWH figured it out, she brought us to our second training level jump. This is a true 3'3" jump that is set just on the top of a little hill so it has a 3'6" drop on the other side. Oh great, lol, a blind landing to boot. We got a long start to it and H's commentary of TWH's face said it best. We were going to the jump and TWH was trying to drift left. I applied more left leg, TWH looked like "Mom, if we keep going straight we are going to have to jump this". I applied more leg and a little rein and TWH looked like "I am not sure if I am going to be able to get around this if we don't turn now!". Finally after a little spur TWH seemed to say "OK, I have no choice, hold on!". I actually concur with her assessment of his expression, that is exactly what it felt like! He seemed totally taken by surprise by the jump, it is one we typically run around (for obvious reasons) so he thought it was pilot error until the last moment haha. What a good horse for trying! We went over it a couple more times for experience and called it a nice day.
I am so thrilled he is so willing to jump whatever I point him at, so different from the horse that would freak out over the smallest xc jump back in 2011. He is learning how to jump and is applying his knowledge and seems to be enjoying it. I am really looking forward to our show next weekend, let's see how we do!