Hee hee... I wanted some energy and I got some energy! Silly Danimal. Today was my lesson with Kelly in the XC field. He was sooo sluggish the other day that I was worried about him. So I started to up his red cell to twice a day thinking that might help. Well, it did! He was fresh today. :) But it was fun. And he wasn't really that bad.
We warmed up and Kelly told me that I was going to start working on putting a half halt on Dan. She said that she wanted me to start sitting up and deep in my body to ask him to half-halt with my position, not my hand. That way, as we're galloping up to our big huge intermediate fences, I can just sit up and back and he'll rev that engine and bring his butt underneath himself without me having to get in his face and slow him down or fight with him. She said that by starting out by changing my body, then going to the hand to half halt, I would eventually teach him to do it without the hand. He's a smarty pants and was already starting to pick up on it. :) At least on the flat. Once we got jumping, he was a bit more of a hand ride. ;) Somebody got a little riled up!
We started out working on a nice quiet calm tempo and me focusing on my position. The first few little fences were very sedate and normal. So then Kelly sent us over some bigger stuff. And then it started to get fun. We did the line up the hill towards the parking area and the first two fences were good but when we hit the third fence a fire breathing dragon came out! The first time we did the third fence, Dan took the bit 3 strides out and catapulted to it and flung himself over it and then put his head between his legs and took off bucking. Dingbat! It was a wee bit terrifying at first but then I had to giggle. Kelly was like "so.. you had a nice lovely BN tempo over fence 1 and 2, and then suddenly you were running intermediate over fence 3.. so yeah.... ". hee hee. Settle down Danimal! Good grief. So we continued to go uphill to help settle him down/tire him out. I managed to keep him to a dull roar for the rest and we had no more terrifying bolts at the fences. But I did have to keep him on a tighter rein than I'm used to. Which was quite nice honestly. I think it helped him jump better as he wasn't long and flat and lopey. There was a few times I started to water ski though as I got left behind. And I got stuck hanging on him some. So then Kelly reminded me about alternating half halts. Aha! It's hard because he's not consistent yet, so I'm not sure what he's going to do. So trying to pay attention to him and focus on fixing my problems is tough. Especially when he keeps changing tactics. But I did manage to finally fix my landing gear some of the time.
We worked on kicking my feet in front of me on landing over the fences. We even jumped the middle cabin and roll top in the lines. Even the bigger scarier one with the holes in it next to the prelim bench! Danny was funny because I thought he might get a little backed off it as it has those scary holes. He was going to it all happy and brave and then as he jumped it, he sort of spooked and looked as he went over. Eeeks. :) Hee hee.
So then after he settled and I was able to ride him a bit more effectively (ie... ride him like a horse, not a baby on a long rein, ride the rhythm in the canter and alternating half halts as needed) and we had some decent fences, we moved onto the ditches. Of course he was great over those. We did the scary ramp jump again! He wasn't looky this time. Then we headed to the water and did the up bank and down bank. Again I focused on the out and rode straight and it went better. Going to the up bank Kelly told me to just wait for him. He was sort of waiting on me and I was sort of anticipating and throwing him off. So I just waited to move til he moved and it worked well. He took a much more specific step up rather than sort of clambering up. Then we worked on the down. Kelly said that I was still going into two point too much. She wanted me to try a slightly bigger drop so that I could feel it better. She had me trot him out and up over the bank with the log laying on it. He was so funny. We trotted in the water and as soon as he realized I was aiming for that log, he stopped and was like "Wait, what?!?". I walked him forward to it and he sniffed it, walked another step and let him sniff the grass on the top, and then he almost walked up from there. I turned him around and we trotted back into the water and I knew he was going. He was like "Oh... why didn't you say so!? I've sooo got this Mom"! He's such a cutie. So we trotted up happily and then turned and trotted down. We finally got it right when I figured out to grab my breastplate strap. Kelly wanted me to keep my hands low and down but and pushing down, as well as pushing my feet down and forward, but without throwing my shoulders down. I couldn't figure out how to do that... My arms are too short or something. But then when we went down the big one the first time, he stopped at the top. I grabbed the saddle in case he leapt off. He didn't. He stopped, sniffed, and then calmly and quietly dropped off. :) Kelly said that's how she wanted my hands. So then my brain clicked and went OH!!! I can grab the breast plate strap at the base of his neck, rather than aiming for slightly higher up his neck. For whatever dumb reason in my brain, that worked so much better for being able to extend my arms and keep my shoulders up instead of falling down. So yay! We did it a few times and Dan was awesome. He kept trucking through and let me figure it out. And I did! Then Kelly said that I was staying in the saddle too long now. Sigh. Argh! So we did it twice more and she had me come out of two point as soon as his front feet landed. I got it!! I got the hang of it. :) Finally!!
Now to make sure I can keep it up. :) But it was a super fun lesson and Danny was a blast. I like him a little extra frisky, so maybe he can stay on the twice daily red He is getting fitter too because while it was warm out and he sweated, he wasn't dripping and he wasn't panting nearly as much, despite being a bit quick and working pretty hard. Yay. I rewarded him by letting him go splash in the lake. He loved it and was quite vigorous in his splashings.