Trust, Valuable yet Difficult

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Another great lesson on Willie today! I decided to give Julia the day off to save her for the show this weekend, so Willie got to go cross country.

I was able to use a lot of the strategies we worked on yesterday in the show jumping lesson – we had a great time today.

Again, I softened before fences and committed at least five strides out for each fence. Also, we focused a lot on packaging Willie’s long stride and creating a forward, balanced canter to the jumps. As a result, Willie was confident – yet careful. We played in the water (jumping in and out) and over ditches and went up and down bank combinations.

I realized today that I can only do so much to get Willie over the jumps. He’s green and has been a little too cautious when jumping; I tend to override in an attempt to make it easier for him. However, my overriding has the opposite effect I want it to; it gets in the way and distorts communication between us. When I get busier, he gets confused. All I can do is set him up for the jumps by establishing tempo and balance. The rest is up to him.┬áThis approach clearly works, because Willie was so confident and calm out on the course today once I quieted my position and trusted him/held him accountable. Trusting the horse to step up and perform is a hard skill to learn, but it’s necessary. The rider isn’t carrying the weight, the horse is.

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