This past Saturday we trailered down the road to El Sueno Equestrian Center, where Debbie Rosen has her evening barn. The facility was pretty quiet since most were away at Twin Rivers this weekend.
Well, to cut to the chase, the schooling was definitely a step in the right direction. I had been meditating for several days on riding demandingly (read: more aggressively than normal – remembering Laurie’s words to “draw blood”). Imagine my surprise when Laurie tells me, before even the first jump, that I need to not override and to give Spirit the opportunity to jump because she *wants* to, because every horse should want to. This seems to be a 180 from our discussion after Ram Tap, but she is the trainer so of course I did what she said. We had a plan B in case of refusals and rearing.
We started off in the arena doing some stadium, and let Spirit trot jumps. Low-and-behold, she seemed much more game and willing! We did have some refusals, and the response was to immediately turn away from the direction she wanted to go towards, and RUN for a beat or two. The idea is that she has to go FORWARD. There was also to be a smack-down if she reared, and luckily there was not very much of that at all (due to the forward movement emphasis, I think). She got the concept pretty quick, and it translated okay out in the XC field.
So, I felt it was a good schooling. I think that both Spirit and I learned some things, so that is very good. However, in terms of performance (defined by getting over a jump the first time presented), I am not sure that I would say that we improved over the course of the schooling the way that we did at Ram Tap. This Saturday we are going to Galway Downs for a schooling, and that will be the final test before deciding to sign up for the Ram Tap October show.