So.. I had been feeling bad about jumping Dan and feeling like I was overfacing him. So I was a little worried about taking him to Chatt. But I'm sooooo glad I did! It was such a great experience for us both, despite being quite the exciting weekend. ;)
We loaded up Saturday morning with me barely managing to get everything done in time. We got to Chatt hills and I took him straight to the wash rack for his bath. I got him all sparkling clean and let him hang out in his stall while I went and got my packet. He didn't even have shavings in his stall yet. But there was no time so I took him to the trailer and tacked him up. I hopped on and dropped my video camera off at the stall. Then we headed down to the arenas. Oh dear!! From the barn down to the jump arena Dan was on springs!! Springs!!!! We were passaging and piaffing like fools. Some kind person even yelled "Nice Springs". hee hee. Great, but we were attempting to walk. Somebody was NOT as chill as he was at Rolling Hills. But... I asked for it. ;) I had said that he was a little too blase at Chatt. hee hee. When will I learn?! ;) So then I managed to get him down to the jump arena, with all the flags, and went past to get to the dressage arenas. That was super exciting so we did about 16 porpoise jumps and crow hops and spins and mini bolts. We got about halfway through and came up on a woman with a stroller with a baby in it. Uh oh! She was super nice and just stopped. I managed to get Dan to go past her, partly in thanks to another horse on the other side of the fence in the arena heading the same direction as us. Unfortunately right as I passed the stroller and woman we came upon a giant pile of poles. Well, Dan spooked, spun and ran a few steps back towards the barns. I managed to wrangle him in before we ran into the stroller. (Not that close, but I was terrified it was going to be that close). I noted that he was spooking at the poles and not the stroller so I mentioned to the woman that she may be better off calmly walking ahead a bit since he wasn't scared of her. She gratefully did so and then I was a little less worried about clobbering them. We then managed to get past the poles and hopped our way into the warm up arena. We managed to walk around a bit, while leaping and shying and then help arrived! Elisa Wallace was on KC and walked up and said "hey...let me help you!". THANK YOU!! She basically had me put him to work. Forward march baby! No sight seeing, no antics, just in a frame in a forward trot. So we managed to get him focused and like typical Dan, he settled after about 10 minutes. He was still naughty but he was manageable now.
Elisa continued to help me and finally it was our turn to go in. They were running about 20 minutes late. Dan walked down to other arenas without a care in the world and went in and did his test. He was actually quite nice and it was probably our best test. We still flopped the right lead. He picked it up correctly in front but was on the left lead behind. About 4 strides in he swapped in front and then I knew for sure we were off and broke to the trot. He picked it right up on the second attempt and we cantered around. I was quite proud of him. We ended up scoring a 61.4, which put us in 6th out of 8 or 9. I was really proud! Not a great score, but not horrid. And I knew he wasn't really ready for training level just yet frame wise, but I liked that test better for him than trying to cram in a tiny canter. So for where he's at, I was quite pleased. Our comments were that his hindquarters were out behind him. And yep. I agree. That's why he's not quite ready for training level, but we're working on it. The goof seemed to enjoy being in the ring by himself, getting to show off. He wasn't worried about being alone or anything. He's such a show off. Then we headed back and he was still full of it, bouncing some more.
Halt, Salute, Trot on
Right lead Canter
Crazy walk pattern 2/5
Left Lead Canter
Stretchy trot: 4/5
Halt and Salute 5/5
He got some carrots and was rinsed and then sent back to his stall so I could go watch Liz. She was rushed because she was watching me so her test was a little hurried but it wasn't bad at all. We headed back and let the ponies graze for a little bit and then they got shavings, fresh water and hay. We hung out and watched friends and then went for dinner, letting the ponies enjoy the fans. At dinner, we convinced our waiter to put the Belmont on. And we saw it!! We saw American Pharoah win the Triple Crown. It was awesome. He wasn't even trying. So neat :) :)
We walked the ponies some and had a good time chatting. Dan was NOT cooperative for pictures. ;) Then we put the ponies to bed and went to bed ourselves.
The next morning we took our time a bit and got the ponies fed. Then it was time to school XC. I was nervous! Luckily we were smart and stayed Sat and Sun instead of Fri and Sat so we were pretty much the only ones there. I'm so glad because I think it was a MUCH better experience for me and Dan than if we had tried to school while it was busy and hectic out on the field.
I told Liz that I was sort of tempted to go back to the arenas past the flags to prove that it wasn't scary but I wasn't sure I wanted to get him agitated before being out in the giant 400 acre field. She smiled and turned Party for the arena and flags. Ha! But we did go back into the arena and worked on some flat work to get his kicks out first. Smart! Not cheating, smart. :) And I'm glad we did. He wasn't horrible but he was definitely excited so it was good to let him burn off some steam before we hit the open field. AND... Liz helped me with the right lead canter. She told me an old hunter trick. Somehow I was asking at the wrong moment so he was almost having to pick up his right hind first, which put him on the left lead. So she had me sit a stride, then pick up the wrong diagonal for one post, then ask for the canter. And sure enough, it worked like a charm. He picked up the right lead 3 times in a row. Yay!! I'm so glad because he was getting frustrated with not getting the right lead too. Then the fourth time I asked, he picked it up as soon as I sat the post. Hee hee. Smart baby horse, but no... that's not when I asked. She joked that they would do that but to ignore it because eventually they get the hang of it and eventually my body learns to ask for the right lead at the right time and I wont' have to do the funky diagonal change. Yay
After that we went over to the jump arena and went it. The jumps were set at prelim height but it's such a big atmosphere that we figured we would take advantage of the situation and show them around. So we went in and weaved around and then took a "victory canter" around. Dan didn't seem to mind anything.
So then we headed out to the XC field. We started over the first tadpole jump and it was awful. Dan jumped awkwardly, jumping me out of the saddle, and then we both landed on the forehand and felt like we were going to plow into the ground. We tried a few times and it was just as awful. So then we tried the beginner novice jump, thinking maybe size would help. Nope! I was getting very frustrated because I felt like I wasn't doing anything to help him at all. Liz said that he had to figure it out on his own essentially. So fine, but what could I do to not make it worse? I felt like I was making things worse. She had me grab my "oh crap" strap a few times and it helped but I was so afraid of us landing on his nose that I was pushing myself up and away and ended up getting left behind and being popped in the air. It felt like he was porpoising or crow hopping over the jump and landing the same way, back up and nose down. At one point I swear I thought we were going to go ass over teakettle. So then she did a few in a row and Dan didn't care that she was cantering away from us. Bonus! So I thought I would use it to my advantage thinking he'd be more inclined to stay upright. Hmm... he was more upright.. with all four feet! He took to bucking and crow hopping like a fool. But we got him over one and then I made him canter on til he settled and he did. So then Liz told me to grab my neck strap more like I would on Fleck. In my brain I decided that I was just going to get into jumping position and ride him like I would Fleck. I knew it was a little fence and I didn't need to "jump" it, but I thought perhaps that would help. And thank goodness!! I'm not sure what I was doing before, but once I actually rode it like a jump, shockers... it helped. I also had to kick him on upon landing and not fall on his face. But riding in jump position helped that. And by riding on after, he didn't fall on his face and picked himself up. Phew! We actually had some decent fences at that point, although I feel apart a bit more on the bigger fences. So we moved it along and did a few more tadpoles, one even with a little uphill and downhill landing. And yay! It became FUN. I let Dan canter on some and was laughing at how quickly he was covering ground.
We then went to the banks. They were a bit large so we just went up and down the giant mound, which was scary. Then we jumped another little jump and Liz jumped a faux trakehner. I wanted to also so I took Dan to it. Instead of trotting he broke into the canter. So I circled and made him trot. A few strides out he decided he was a big shot and cantered. He took the long spot and porpoised a few times on landing. Goober!
Dan thinks he's ready for Rolex!
So we then walked up to the next tadpole jump and I walked him right up to it and then let him hop over it. Then we came right back to the one next to it and did the same thing. Liz said this was a good way of "punishing" them for being too exuberant, without punishing them. So then we headed to the water. Dan played in it a bit and splashed while we watched Liz. Then we decided to trot into and out of the water and out over a cute little tadpole cabin. Well, again, Dan thought he was a big shot and cantered into the water. But he cantered happily in and stayed cantering til about half way in and then he broke to the trot. I let him and we trotted out and politely trotted over the cabin and cantered off. I made a BIG FUSS about how awesome he was and we quit with that. :)
I decided that this was a great weekend. We survived!! Ha. No, we did, but really, we accomplished a lot. He learned that the big exciting show atmosphere was doable. He was a gentleman in the arena and put in a respectable test. He stayed overnight in a stall. He went and schooled XC and we both learned how to jump politely and happily. But most importantly... he thought it was SUPER FUN. He was having a blast and came away thinking he was a big shot and ready for Rolex. That's all I wanted! I know he needs more time to grow before we jump again. But I didn't want to end with his frustrating grid jump session. I think that took money out of his bank. He's never felt like he was having to "work" and never said no. I'd like to keep it that way. So I'm glad this weekend. This reinforced that jumping is fun and I felt like I put a WHOLE lot of money in the bank. :)
We did go looking for some ditches and didn't find any but walked back by the lake. We had to pass a small stream running over some concrete that Party didn't like. Dan was goofy. He was so clueless. But he walked over it happily enough once Party got through it and then we saw a cool little meandering natural ditch. So I popped him over that a handful of times and he casually and happily popped over it.
So much fun!!! What a great weekend. And now Dan can take the summer off and just chill for a bit and grow some more. We'll do our Cindy lessons and play, but we probably won't do any more jumping other than occasional things in the field until this Fall. He deserves a little break. :)