I've put in three hard core dressage schools, all going on close to an hour, and Bobby only thought about throwing in a little sass once which was quickly shut down by a word from BM. He had his second training ride this morning, and we free jumped him over the weekend.
I know I'm going to have word vomit about my flat rides and the training ride, so I'm going to spread all this good stuff over lots of posts. Yay, easy content!
I was pretty dubious about the usefulness of free jumping him as my BO in PA tried it with him and it got us exactly nowhere, and I came away with zero information about anything my horse was doing besides frantically racing through a line of jumps and getting grain at the end of it.
Not so with BM. She set up a line of four bounces, obviously all set as ground poles the first few times through. I stuffed my pockets with candy because I know how quickly Bobby breaks down into an anxious psycho mess doing this exercise. Unsurprisingly, the first time we sent him through on his own, he went plowing through and came whipping out prepared to go flying around the ring like a cracked out banshee.
I got my crinkly peppermints out and let him stand and eat candy for a second while he stared around the arena assessing the situation to see if anyone was going to come chasing him with a whip. BM, B, and I all hung out chilling until he settled down and we were able to send him through again.
It took a lot of "Whoa, Bobby" "Easy, Bobby" "Just trooooot", but he finally figured out we weren't interested in him going through as fast as he could. Once that sunk in, he was really good to work with.
We started the jumps with the final bounce at 3' and everything else still as poles. That eventually progressed to the first being an X, the second a vertical, and the third an X.
BM's observation was that he uses his neck to balance himself by throwing his head up instead of sitting on his hind end. Once he started working through all the bounces set up, he was really using his booty, and we were able to move on to phase two:
Two oxers set at a one stride distance. BM still wasn't pleased with his form, so she stuck a pole between the two to make him focus on what his feet were doing.
The first time he came to the oxers, he was approaching at a perfectly acceptable canter and he came to a spot that would have been just fine if a touch gappy. He tried to stick in an extra stride and slammed on the brakes, sliding into the fence. He's just not confident jumping from that spot in the ring, and BM wants to do a lot of work to get him there. He can't be jumping from underneath the fence every single time.
That was the only problem we ran into, and we finished with him trotting into a one stride of 3'6" oxers like it was no bigs.
Once again, I was left super impressed with BM's methodical and intuitive training/teaching style. She breaks down everything she sees in terms I can grasp, has no problem with stupid questions, and just seems to have such a read on my bat shit crazy lost cause that's really boosting my self esteem about this dude and broadening my knowledge at the same time.
It's a fine balance to hold someone accountable for the things they're doing wrong without making them feel seriously useless about the things they have been able to accomplish, and BM has nailed that with me.