Over the last few weeks we have been working in our lessons on getting Dustry to reach down and stretch when he goes over trot poles. This is helping him to use his back and also become more active behind in order to make the distance, and clean foot falls between the poles.
Dustry’s natural reaction when off balance or when something breaks his concentration is to revert to his racing habits and invert his neck and hollow. Lots of round, stretchy pole work should help to eliminate this reaction when we start to jump, and produce a nice round bascule. In order to encourage him to bring his neck down over the poles I have to reach forwards and have my hands very low either side of his neck and giving the rein. I end up looking a bit like a hunched monkey! Eventually I will be able to straighten up and achieve this without the exaggerated position, but this is the initial stage 1.
Another of the areas we need to work hard on are our canter transitions. I have a good feel for the left lead canter transition, but not as good for the right lead which keeps every now and again resulting in the incorrect strike off. An exercise that really helps with this is to trot over 3 trot poles on a 20m circle, after the poles leg yield out on the circle and then ask for the canter transition. This resulted in the correct strike off every time, evidence that it’s me causing the mistake not him! Ooops!
After a week of trot poles we attempted D’s first x pole since last year. He has matured so much, that after a few pops on each rein he was totally chilled and just loping over the jump. I am so pleased we took the time to get his ground work much more established before beginning his jumping education proper. Now he has the idea we can crack on with some grids and bigger fences – Yipeeeee!
Video of the trot pole exercise (starting in the canter)
jump exercise – Beechers Brook! 😉