Slider went for his first jump lesson last night! I figured that we would mostly just watch and maybe jump over a fence or two, how wrong I was. In case you don't want to read a whole lesson write up, this picture sums it up.
I tacked him up and hauled over just a bit early so that he could practice standing around. He was a little antsy, but not bad and by the time I got on he was pretty chill. He dealt with horses arriving and leaving, this was a huge improvement from just two days before at the show, he is a fast learner.
The lesson started out assessing our levels of control. There were two other riders, one who does a lot of dressage with her horse, but wants to gain confidence jumping, and one who is brand new to riding with a very experienced school horse. We started on a circle that had cones for us to go between on all four sides. We all trotted together and Slider never got rushy or worried, he just trotted around easy as can be. Then he stepped on a rock or something and decided to take a few lame steps. I hopped off to check his feet and boots and everything was fine. When I got back on he was fine again. The other two riders waited off to the side while I cantered the circle, I didn't think it would be possible for him to stay inside all the cones at the canter, but he totally delivered!
Then we walked and trotted over a flower box, Slider was totally nonchalant. After that we added in cantering around the corner and over two canter rails to a red vertical. It started out with flower boxes as a funnel and then they moved back under the jump. The first time around we made it over the rails and then had a total miss/stop at the jump, mostly due to lack of steering from Slider and shock on my part that we'd made it that far. Whoops. He went right over the next time.
We practiced those two jumps a few times until it was feeling easy. We varied between cantering and trotting the second one. I looked like a grinning lunatic most of the time.
Up until this point we had only trotted cross rails and here we were cantering verticals. Then we added a big sweeping left turn to a blue vertical. Our power steering failed and we had a stop. One side dropped down and we popped over. That jump continued being a bit of a bogey throughout the lesson, but it isn't really anything I'm worried about. Mostly it just pointed to holes that need work in our training. We added a jump whip and he said, oh you really mean go!? Part of the reason he backed off was because a few of the jump rails bit him. I think we will be using closed front boots for a few sessions as he is a sensitive boy.
Steph kept encouraging me to believe in myself and Slider. I was riding with a bit of Prisoner (and other horses) baggage and had to let it go. When he would stop I would let him take a step or two back and then kick him over as they were all two foot and under. She said if I saw his hind end I would have no qualms walking fences. She really had nothing but good things to say about him. The best thing was that he doesn't hold a grudge. If one jump was a bit messy or whatever he just came back around happy to try it again and to try and figure it out. Prisoner holds 1000 grudges about jumping. We discussed how Slider has that classic awesome Thoroughbred brain while Prisoner has that more stubborn warmbloody brain.
Finally we added in a gate. I started to get worried about it, but I refused to go there. He hasn't blinked at anything so far, I just sat up grabbed some mane and kicked. He went. Cue instant dance party, I was sooooo happy!
We went through the course a few more times and just kept working to clean it up. I have so many great things to work on. Mostly I already knew that we needed to work on them, but this gave me the kick in the ass I needed to realize that he is ready for the pressure. He isn't Prisoner, he is his own awesome self.
I've suspected that he would be a natural jumper from how his canter feels. Steph informed me at the end of the lesson that when she saw him canter that she, 'wanted to blindfold me and ducttape me to the saddle and then aim Slider over jumps 'cause he is going to jump anything you point him at.' YAY! I'm so glad that what I've felt in the saddle is what she is seeing from the ground. I am so thankful for the opportunity to take lessons to push the envelope so that I don't baby him.
Now it is up to me to just keep on kicking.
Photo Credit to Alyssa!