Dustry’s jumping education has been frustratingly slow due to a variety of irritating issues (bad weather missing lessons, Christmas, illness, work commitments, riding after dark etc) but primarily we have been delayed by his dental issues. These are well and truly sorted now, and it was with baited breath that yesterday we attempted his first ‘post wolf teeth jump’. We began the lesson working on all paces, making it my main priority to ‘get him in the neck’, every time he goes to slightly hollow or come up in his neck I need to be really proactive about stopping it before it even happens. He’s a grown up now and needs to leave baby habits behind (that goes for me too!) He’s becoming much softer and rounder now, and his neck muscle is really starting to develop well, but he does find it physically tiring to work correctly because his natural neck confirmation is not great.
Warmed in and working nicely we attempted a cross pole. I’m pretty sure that Amanda (my instructor), my mother (head groom, and chief picnic packer) and myself were all holding our breath as Dustry trotted towards the cross pole. He popped it so sweetly, and cantered off after nice and soft, straight, and ride-able, no hollowing, no rushing, no inverted jumping, no ears in my face……just perfect!
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From the smile on my face you would have thought I ‘d just won Badminton not jumped a 2ft-nothing cross pole! We did a few more jumps on each rein, building up to a little double cross pole spread. I was over the moon, because this means his mouth is sorted, and most importantly he hasn’t picked up any ‘baggage’ from the last time we attempted jumping when we didn’t realise his wolf teeth had dropped. It’s like permission has been granted, and now we can crack on with his jumping education – Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
As a treat and because the weather was so nice the next day I boxed him 10mins to a lovely local bit of Salisbury Plain, parked up, and took him for a canter. The ground was lovely and springy, and as sheep had recently been moved off that particular patch it was like cantering about on a mowed lawn! He was a total dude, cool, calm, and collected, and only got a little excited about being allowed to canter about in such a nice big wide open space at first but soon settled – and all in just a snaffle!
It’s great training for him to do stuff like this and out in the open it highlights what we need to work on, straightness, lifting his shoulders, and keeping him ‘up and together’ When we got back to the yard it was 11 degrees so much to his disgust I gave him a warm wash off, then turned him out rug-less in the field…..you can guess what happended next! I don’t mind the odd marathon grooming sesh, and it does him good to get the sun on his back, he’s moulting already!