Lex has been so fantastic lately. We had a really great lesson today. She came out a little fresh (the temps dropped 20 degrees and it was windy, so who can blame her) but settled into work in a good mood quickly. We didn't spend a lot of time on flatwork, just worked on getting the rhythm right in the trot, which didn't take long because that's been our homework for the last two weeks, and I always like to get my homework done. Then Chris set up one ground pole and we walked over it, then trotted it. All this was fine. I'd do a 20m circle afterwards and re-establish rhythm and come again, and he added a second pole (9' out) and then a third (9' again). The point the whole time was to keep the rhythm quiet without letting the step get so small that she had to reach to get out. We went over that each way a few times, and then he set up the last pole to a teensy little vertical.
The take-away points:
1. Stay out of her mouth all the time. She slows down from my posting, my posture, and my voice. She'll just get pissed if I use the reins to slow down.
2. Find a good rhythm and stick with it.
3. Give her breaks.
4. She's going to make baby mistakes and we won't punish her for those. But don't use PVC poles as cavaletti or to build jumps because the last thing she needs to learn is to scatter the rails.
5. Lex is fabulous.
After the lesson we stood around talking for awhile and she was totally chill and happy looking. She never got wound up at all, and she didn't balk at the idea of jumping. She hopped over that tiny fence differently every time, which is part of the process of her figuring out how to get over it correctly, and I just have to not mess her up. Chris is giving me a lot of homework to do while I'm away this winter, and I deeply appreciate it.
I'm so proud of this little weirdo.