Of course while warming up with the rest of my group and all of the auditors and Stephen, Danny tripped and face plowed for about 4 strides on his nose and knees. No one else saw it!!! Seriously... don't know how they missed it, but they did. Luckily Dan kept on all his shoes and didn't hurt himself.
We started with a grid. The goals were to keep them straight and balanced. I had to ride with a bigger connection to get Dan to stay in the trot without breaking to canter and without losing energy and impulsion. Basically, it's time to ride him like a big boy horse! I can remember that he's not strong enough yet and needs my support and I can remember that he's learning still, but... it's time for him to carry himself more and learn to compress that stride. And it worked beautifully! When I rode him with a connection and a bit more "on the bit" rather than the hunter floating contact, we kept the trot and got some nice jumps. I also need to work on keeping my shoulders from tipping forward, keep him from drifting to the right by closing my right leg and doing a little bit of an opening rein to the left and a blocking rein to the right. My leg was pretty cooperative today but I still am aggravated at my position. I want to be a bit more behind the motion. I think that's what Stephen was seeing when he said my shoulders were leading a bit. In my brain, it's because my butt is getting ahead of the saddle. So I think I need to focus on pushing my butt back.
Then we moved on to a line that was a four to a one. This showed me that I need to really keep that shorter stride. I need to Push him into the Shorter Stride. This will keep me from riding back to front and instead encourage connection and impulsion without speed or getting strung out. I was having troubles so then we moved onto another exercise which was really eye opening. It was the placing poles one stride out over a low oxer. Argh.. Yep! When we came in fast, flat, or just too long, it was awful. Dan got sucked down and under the fence and my shoulders followed and then he had to roll over his shoulder and I cannot seem to keep my knees down during this situation. BUT... when I get a nice bouncy slow but balanced canter, he can use his feet properly and get to a good distance. AHA!