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. This 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.