Today we had a lesson with Kelly Eaton. Julie and her Appy baby (also the same age as Dan) and I rode together. Julie wanted to do flat work over poles so I agreed. Kelly said that we could do grids and that it would be excellent for them. She said at the end that we would jump some little fences but that it wasn't any worse than them jumping around and acting like fools at home. And she certainly wouldn't do it more than 2-3 times a month, but it would be good for them. It also was a good way to work on their canter without fighting them at the canter.
So much fun!!
We started out warming up and Dan was rowdy. :) Of course. But he settled down pretty quickly and was so excited about having a friend to "play" with that he didn't try to bolt out of the arena at the in gate. We got settled enough and had a little canter. Kelly said (a few times) how nice of a mover her was! But she did say that I should work on "making him dizzy". I needed to do lots of turns and direction changes, and even shallow serpentine loops at the canter. He was a little too tuned in to the outside world instead of me. So she wanted me to get him to pay more attention and have his little ears flicking back at me. So we did and it worked.
Then we trotted through the grid with just the standards and one ground pole. They both trotted over it like superstars. Then she added another pole. Then she made a teeny little crossrail but the poles on the ground were set to invite them to trot into the first ground pole, then get a bouncy canter stride after to the pole. So we trotted in, focusing on straightness, and then closed our leg to invite the canter and over the "jump". She was saying that Romeo had a normal 12 foot stride and Dan had an 18' stride. hee hee. But it would be hard for both. And it was. They both got it but they had to focus and stretch out a bit to get the one stride out. And it was worse when they were wigglier. And Dan has a right drift. Tough for me because Fleck has a left drift. But at least it'll straighten me out. ;)
So then, because they were getting it like superstars, we added one more jump after to make it the ground pole inviting the canter stride over the first jump, then a one stride to the second jump. And both were still pretty small, although at the end it was an oxer :) :) hee hee.. A teeny weeny little baby oxer, but still. It got a smidge tougher and Dan got a bit wigglier, but he was figuring it out. We finished on a good note with me being a bit more forward and helping him out by actually folding over the jump and keeping my leg on and keeping him straight. Such a good baby!!!
Danny's first grid and first real stadium "jump"
Oh, and it really did help our flat work. Kelly was laughing at him saying that he has one leg going every direction. hee hee. And after we cantered through the grid, as soon as I would close my fingers on the reins, he'd slam on the breaks. And tripped twice. ;) Doh! So Kelly said that it was partly him being a baby and partly me not supporting him. Although, he did need to develop his fifth leg. But we fixed the problem by having me keep cantering him after the line and riding him into the connection more and not asking him to come down to the trot until 5-10 strides after. And lo and behold, it worked. He was much more balanced! And he didn't slam on the breaks, he came down to the trot much more balanced and nicer. And no tripping. Yay! It even helped with the trot to walk. Yay.