Last week’s lesson with Troy began with a question, “So how is this guy going?”, to which I answered, “Champion and champion”. Troys response was, “that’s all fine and good, but how did he go”? What a great reminder of priorities to have when horse showing! Troy and I talked about how we have asked so much of Banker by accepting the challenge and taking him to horse shows, and that he has done everything willingly and with great trust. Typically, a horse would have more time over fences before going to a show, but we needed to see how Banker would fit into the ‘horse show scene’. He proved to us what a great mind he has, and that he thinks standing around at a horse show is no big deal.
After our warm-up, Troy started us trotting over a single cross-rail set on the rail coming toward the gate. After several times over that, he built a second fence set at 2 strides. As we trotted into the gymnastic, I concentrated on having impulsion and a good rhythm, the things we worked on in our last lesson. Banker easily took the 2 strides and landed in a soft canter. Troy then built a 3rd element at 1 stride, which really made Banker think about rocking back to jump off his hind end. Again, he was soft thru the entire exercise. We then moved on to trot a brick box set on an angle at the quarter line a few times, then started at the beginning with the gymnastic and continued around to canter the brick box. As we cantered to the single jump, I counted 1,2,1,2,1,2 to keep the rhythm and we hit a nice distance. The last element Troy added to the small course was a line across the diagonal that we trotted into and cantered a nice easy 5 strides to the last jump. We did that twice by itself, then went back to the beginning gymnastic. Banker continued to have a consistent rhythm and had a nice canter-trot transition before the last line. I needed to keep my leg on thru the corner to keep the impulsion, but then I could just relax to the jump. We ended the session by putting together a consistent course. I so enjoy riding with Troy because he builds a team’s confidence slowly and easily. Everything he has asked of Banker and I is built on what we learned in the previous lesson.
Banker and I went to our final show this past Saturday. I had planned on doing the 2’3″ divisions, but the morning was damp, the rain was fast approaching and there was an hour delay in starting our ring. Instead, we did the first 2 cross-rail divisions in order to get done before the storms hit. Banker won the hacks in our 2 divisions and was champion Thoroughbred over x-rails. But the best part was the feel that he had jumping: rhythmical and steady. He came up in front of my leg and marched down the lines in our first 2 classes. It showed me that he really learned about pace and consistency in our lesson on Thursday. During the last 2 jumping classes, I could feel him getting a bit strung out, so we’ll work on staying balanced at home this week. We ended with a 2nd and 3rd in those classes.
After all he’s done so far, Banker has earned a bit of a rest. Even though he gets the day off after a show or lesson, I’ll give him a few extra days to relax.