Couple of really nice rides to talk about.
First, jump clinic on Sunday again. Two weeks in a row definitely did really good things for both of us. Apart from some difficulties in getting Tris to wake up (he even planted his feet when he saw we were going in the ring! Hannah had to smack him on the but!) I feel like there was a great deal of improvement all around. When he really gets into gear going around he's a *fun* horse to ride over fences - he's always great, really, but having him take me to the fences instead of booting him over them is a very different thing!
I feel like I had some personal riding success in a couple of areas. I was able to make some progress on slowing things down in my head. T. talked to another rider in my set about using the circles (this was a land and rollback jump set) that he had mapped in after every jump to get space and get a better canter. He pointed out that circles are, in their most basic form, lateral work, and that you should use that lateral work to supple the horse back up in time. So I was able to take that a little bit into my riding. I think we used the circles effectively, and that I was catching him when he wanted to quit. I was quite liberal in my use of the crop, which helped.
Only other thing was a moment when I spun Tris a little too hard toward a jump placed on the center line, and he really dug in and turned on his hocks, and T. observed that he's a catty little thing in corners when he wants to be. Which I interpret in two ways; first, yes, he is, he's very clever about his footwork and he's small and compact enough to get away with it; second, I should let that be my safety net and not my default, as in, how lucky are you that your horse is so catty, otherwise you would've eaten that fence.
Dressage lesson on Tuesday, first one back with T. in a looooooong time and it felt a little bit like boot camp. I haven't been riding much, so I was letting him get away with a little too much, being a little too gullible about the don'wannas, and T. snapped me out of that in the first half of the lesson. The second half went much better, and we even got some nice canters in, and then a really nice reachy trot at the end. We're back to the "expect more of him earlier" mold, which is a sign that we're on that climb up the plateau. At least, I think, we've stopped sliding down, and a lot of the work we did on the descent should start to pay off now.
I also tried a minor innovation for the dressage lesson: put my spurs back on. My leg is so much better, and combined with my wonderful new saddle, and Tris's stickiness in the jump set, I felt like it was time. In the past I've avoided them because I didn't like the way I rode while I was wearing them. They felt like an easy place to go when I was frustrated, and I could feel myself becoming a kind of rider I didn't like. Plus, he got dull to them very quickly, and had I let it spiral further it would've become a nasty little arms race. So: back to spurs, and it was I think a success. I posed the question to T. at the end of the lesson and he emphatically agreed that I should stick with them.
Wednesday afternoon I managed to get there just after he had finished his massage. T. told me that massage lady said that he might be a little behind the leg because of the massage, and we both had a good laugh about that. Yeah, that's my pony. Any excuse he can get.
And you know, he was, but not in his usual way. His usual way to be behind the leg is because he's convinced he'll DIE. This way was more the way I feel after a really good hot bath, or a perfect amount of sleep - lazy and comfortable in my body and kind of slinky and liquid. So in some ways stuck, but in others, wow, was he all supple and loose right out of the box. It was really great to feel. In a 25 minute ride I had him WAY more over his back and reaching for the bit and tracking up and bendy than I'd had him in his hour lesson the night before. Which no doubt was a result of that lesson too, but wow, it felt great all around. Nothing earth-shattering, just a really pleasant soft ride. Then I put him out in his paddock for about 20 minutes because he hadn't had any turnout b/c of the massage, and he was a bit forlorn that I hadn't left him with any hay. Poor darling. So abused.
Hack on Saturday, and then school on Sunday; probably poles with Hannah. Maybe a fun exercise, or maybe just a few raised poles to work on timing his canter and getting more jump.