As far as our jumping training goes, Hemie continues to impress me with his positive attitude and aptitude. He is still quite careful, but he is getting more and more brave. When encountering jumps that are intimidating, he no longer refuses or runs out. Instead, he’ll crane his head downward to take a big look and meanwhile crack his back way up and over the jump.
Moreover, there are fewer and fewer jumps that he finds intimidating. At lessons, we will come up with a game plan for approaching iffy jumps, only to find that our planning was for naught – Hemie takes it without issue.
To that end, Laurie has been giving us an interesting challenge of an exercise: she has me release contact earlier and earlier before jumps. As in, reins flopping in the wind loose. While it feels like a trust exercise to me (you know, like at summer camp, where you fall backwards to be caught by a group of peers…), its actually more an exercise to see how Hemie does on his own. For my part it’s getting easier and easier to trust my horse, and it’s a great reminder that I can actually steer with my legs (I tend to use rein aids before leg aids and that is so backwards). Meanwhile, Hemie is proving that he’s more reliable than I give him credit for – he doesn’t run off, he doesn’t charge (most of the time), but he does come forward which apparently is what we (Laurie, actually) wants.
I do feel that my position is improving. I’m focusing on really having stable legs, active core, and soft seat. The neck strap is not only handy for awkward jumps, but it is helping me have soft elbows and shoulders rather than long reins when I want or need to give to Hemie.
Overall Hemie is somehow getting even more relaxed during lessons. He’s never been a tense horse or anything, but I keep noticing how chill he is even when standing around watching other people ride. I really love that about him. He’s relaxed yet alert for trail rides, even in new places. I still need to work on getting him used to bareback and halter riding, but he’s improving every time with that as well.