Gosh. I admit, we've improved by LEAPS AND BOUNDS (here's us doing something similar a year and a half ago) but gosh, all I can see is me looking down the whole time. And I swear I'm going into it thinking, "look forward at the treeline!".
This one was a mistake...we came in severely catty-corner. He's going over the block itself. This was right after the, "you can make a mistake and he can figure it out if you tell him he can" conversation. *facepalm*
I was so impressed with his form when I was first looking at this picture it took me a few minutes to realize this was the one where he knocked the pole down. I think this was right after they'd raised it and so he jumped well but not quite high enough.
Okay, this is not at all to scale, I just whipped it together to give you an idea of what the layout looked like for my lesson today. Hopefully, there will be pictures later but I have to wait and see what Jessica's boyfriend got (he was playing ground crew for us today because she was riding one of the horses she has in for training...that was extra training for Kieran too since he had to listen to me and not pay too much attention to drifting over to where the other horse was).
Anyway, we started out by warming up with a nice walk, then doing the trotting circles in the corners and cantering down the long sides thing we did last week. Despite the temperature having dropped about 20 degrees overnight and it being really windy, Kieran was really relaxed in the warmup and while forward and "there" not...too forward. :)
Then Jessica had us canter both directions over the poles (that's what the thinner lines are). One set was about 3 strides apart, one was about 4 strides apart. The idea was just to get him into a nice canter, canter over the first set, then keep going over the next set and so on. A lot of today was "we've spent a lot of time just getting him over single things and then stopping to talk about it and then doing it again, so now you have to push him forward after a single "thing" and keep going so we can connect it all together".
Then she had the jumps set up. The two angled ones and the one in the middle on the bottom were all using my jump blocks and were just single poles to make verticals. The angled ones stayed at 18" the whole time (and now that I'm looking at it I realize I angled them the wrong direction, pretend they're angled with the outside sides pointed toward the upper corners, not the bottom corners). The vertical on the bottom started at 18" but later we shifted the blocks around so they were at the 2' level. The jump in the middle was made using a pair of jump standards Jessica brought and started out at 2' and near the end of the lesson she had it bumped up two holes to 2'6".
Anyway, a lot of the idea was just to go straight, keep moving forward, and for me to plan out what I wanted to do as we go along. She didn't tell me a particular path to take, she wanted me to decide and make good choices. It was actually really difficult because I've been taking lessons for so long that I've gotten used to letting the instructor tell me what to do and where to go when they're there.
So we had a few false starts, though Kieran of course was pretty good, he never refused a thing. Though like, after we knocked over the same jump (the vertical at the bottom) several times Jessica asked, "okay, so what are you doing that that jump isn't working for you? Maybe you need to do something else." So we talked about it and I changed up what I was doing (went around and did one of the lower jumps first, then came back around for that guy) and it worked.
By the end of the lesson we were able to do the whole "course" without knocking anything over and with me choosing where to go and how we'd get there. Kieran stayed game the entire time. I'm actually really surprised how well he's taking to do this but he seems to enjoy it. One of the other little exercises Jessica had me do with him in the middle of the lesson was to trot in to whichever jump I wanted and get him to canter out and then just sort of get up out of the saddle and allow him to keep going as much as he wanted as a reward. Basically we made jumping into a game today instead of just drilling over and over and he really seemed to take to it.
One of the other things Jessica said today is that I think we need more space to get set up and ready than we actually do. Or well, than Kieran actually does...it's still stuck in my head. So we were coming into one jump but we were a little catty-corner and I stopped and Jessica was like, "why'd you stop? You were totally there!" and I was like, "but it wasn't perfect! we didn't have enough room!" (and that was while that jump was still one of the 18" ones) and she was like..."Kieran is clever enough to figure some of this out on his own even if you don't set him up absolutely perfectly as long as you're up there telling him he can do it, he'll respond okay, Mom." And you know what? She's right. He will. It's actually a little scary that he's so willing. I mean...it's a lot of responsibility up there!
Anyway, it made for a good lesson, even if it wasn't as structured as they usually are. I think it worked for Kieran too. It made for a nice change of pace. :)