This past Saturday, Finn and I didn't have the best ride. It started out okay, but by the time we ended I could feel that his brain was whirring a little too fast. He was losing focus, getting worked up, and it generally made for an unpleasant experience for us both. However, something good came out of the situation: It reminded me that he is new to this world where he's not supposed to just run as fast as he can. He's doing new things everyday, and sometimes he just gets overwhelmed and overstimulated. It made me realize that at this stage I need to focus more on quality versus quantity: Two or three good, solid jumps after a good warmup will be so much more beneficial to us both than an hour of saddle time.
So on Sunday, I went out and we tried again. This time I wanted to get in a good, solid work without overstimulating him. We warmed up, did some circles, trotted and cantered over some poles, and then decided to tackle a single 2' fence. The first time was okay, but not great. The second time was spot-on. We both nailed it (where's a camera for these ones?). Then we took a breather before attempting it again.
All in all, I think we took that jump about six or seven times. They weren't all pretty. But we did most of them well. When I felt him getting worked up or antsy, we walked and got back to a point of relaxation before trying again. I didn't focus on the little things, but instead looked at the big picture. And by the time we were done, I felt like we had made a good step forward. I was proud of Finn, and I was equally proud of myself.
On the not-so-bright side, I also figured out my saddle is just way too narrow for Finn. I knew it wasn't a perfect fit, but lately I've been suspecting that it was more ill-fitting than I thought. Turns out I was right. But at least now I know, and I can take steps to find a saddle that does fit. In the meantime I will make do, and while only a new saddle will totally remedy the problem, at least now I can take steps to somewhat alleviate it until that time comes.
I won't be riding today--Finn deserves a day off, and it's hot and muggy anyway. Tomorrow we will probably give it another shot. I look forward to seeing what this horse can do!