As I touched on for my show recap for Serenity Valley, I'd like to take Jet to one more show this Fall at Intro. I have a couple of choices of show venue and as long as the weather is not heinous, we should be able to show in October and be qualified for year end awards with the DLSC. I've been so pleased with his attitude on the road that I have wondered whether I should push it showing in colder(and spookier!) weather, but this year has been about getting out of my comfort zone a bit, so we will keep on keeping on and give it a shot.
After SV we worked on being more poll high, stretchable, and in self carriage. Jet had no problem doing this first ride after the show, which tells me the problem was yours truly. We had been doing some harder work before the show and of course I was reverting to using my hands more and cramming him together, which leads to a pony who is not using the ring of muscles and lifting his withers properly. Sigh. This has been a theme through my riding life and I thought I finally had it licked, but obviously not. The nice thing is that if I have the mantra of "Poll high, stretchable, in self carriage" in mind I am perfectly capable of riding properly. I just have to especially be conscious of it when riding harder, more challenging movements.
Speaking of more challenging things, my current plan has been to test ride at a level that is totally easy while working on the components of the next level up. Basically, I ride an easy test as part of our warmup and then move on to working on the ingredients of the next level. So right now we are riding a Training Level test in the beginning of our rides and then working on things from First Level. This has seemed to work really well for Jet. He feels like a star because the tests are easy(and he gets a treat afterwards!), I get test riding practice, and we are working in a low key way on the next thing. I don't think you can overestimate how much our horses know when we are pleased with them and how much this builds their willingness to work harder. I used to test ride right on the edge of what Jet could do and I think he could always feel my frustration when things weren't really good. By doing tests that are totally achievable we both feel happier, but the bulk of the work is in the next level, so we are clipping right through the tests.
I'm hoping to get all the way through test riding the First Level tests this Fall. We have done the First Level tests before but my goal is to do them properly in a correct carriage, not slightly behind the vertical. I think it is totally possible and the biggest things that could hold us back are weather and my need to cram Jet together when doing harder work. Wish us luck!