It was 50' this morning - chilly enough for a sweatshirt, and absolutely gorgeous. My lesson was scheduled for 9 a.m., so I had the boys loaded and was on the road not too much past eight.
The cool had Sunny on his toes. After commenting that Sunny appeared to be getting ready for winter - yes, if he was a bear he'd be all set for hibernation - Eric had me walk for not too very long and then bump Sunny into a working trot. It took a few laps for Sunny to soften to me, and he didn't collect as much as when we were working regularly, but he was trying. Canter left was still a no-go, and after a couple right (wrong) lead departures, Eric agreed when I asked if maybe we could wait until after Sunny's seen the chiropractor to really get after him.
Since Sunny was trotting level and solid, Eric had me switch directions and ask for right lead instead. That direction was actually pretty decent. Sunny's finally starting to engage his hind end and round into it, instead of being so heavy on his front end. When we started with lessons a year ago, Sunny was really flat - basically pulling himself around.
I'll admit, when Eric had ask for a gallop and two-point, I didn't push as hard as I think he would have liked, but there was at least some difference between canter and gallop, and Sunny didn't break. So, progress.
I dropped down to a working trot. Eric stood in the center and pondered....
"Do you want to try a jump?" was not a question I was expecting. Okay... do I really want to die today flashed through my mind, but what came out my mouth was, "Sure - I can trot it, right?"
So Eric set the jump standards out for a single jump. For the first few passes he left the three poles flat on the ground for us to first walk, and then trot through. Once Sunny was trotting through with no hesitation, Eric set one end of the middle pole in a cup - half of a very low x-rail - and had us try that.
Sunny has good brakes.
The first couple of approaches were pretty ugly, but for every time Sunny trotted over without hesitating, he got to walk a round. If he refused or balked, around we went again. Bless Sunny's lazy heart, he caught on pretty darn fast that if he went over, he got a break.
Once Sunny was going across the half-x smoothly, Eric raised the bar - literally. He put the other end of the pole in the cup, confronting us with a small single rail jump about 12" off the ground. Just like with the half-x, Sunny started by refusing a couple of times, but when I remembered to look through the standards to the opposite fence, instead of down at the jump, he started trotting over.
And then Eric said, "Okay, now canter."
Um... what? I thought you said we could just TROT!!! And of course, the first couple of times I looked down and Sunny ran out or refused. But lots of leg, remembering to look through the jump, and a four-footed epiphany (oh yeah, if I don't go over, I have to keep working...) later, we managed to canter up, hesitate, and trot over. Which bought Sunny a lap of walking. And on the next cantering attempt, I managed to look ahead, keep my legs on, shove my hands forward at the right moment, and Sunny jumped and cantered on. Where's a spectator with a camera when you need one?
We called that a lesson. I was soaked, having started the lesson in a sweatshirt. Sunny, although puffing slightly, had yet to even break a sweat. It's sad, really.
So is Sunny a jumper - nope - funny thought, though. I fully expect if I point him at a jump in the future, he's going to refuse plenty more times. BUT, I think the point of today's lesson wasn't as much Sunny jumping as it was getting me to stop over-thinking my canter departures and remembering to look up and between Sunny's ears. It was a fun change of pace - I didn't die.
Post-lesson, a couple of friends arrived to ride, and since they didn't have anything strenuous planned, I pulled Sunny's saddle off, unwrapped his polos, and hopped back on. Sunny was more than happy to mosey, we all had a nice ride/chat, and I didn't have to feel guilty for not having accomplished anything.