Or more appropriately, gotta have a bad day to keep me honest.
Harley warmed up pretty good. Rode flat work a little while, realized my two point still needs a LOT of work. Cantered over one ground pole, and then two, something he refused to do at home. Funny to feel it there, two poles in a row - hop hop - all effortful & stuff. Goofball flat refused to do that here a few months ago.
Then it was off to the gymnastics. Epic Fail to start out. I wasn't putting enough go in his trot heading to it, and it felt like he was overpowering the x. Which caused me panic, and a nice standard dose of "Hang on for dear life" - complete with pulling back over the jump, and leaning on him in the landing. Finally, I had to just reach up forward, grab some mane, cluck and kiss hard to him, and let him do the work. Of course, he was amazing. Ended the day with ground pole, crossrail, stride, crossrail, stride, crossrail. Not a bad ending. A really rough start, though.
That's one of the first times I've had to think about *not* pulling back over the jumps. Dang it.. I so hoped I wouldn't start doing it to need to quit. I'm focused for the next few weeks:
LOTS of two point.. LOTS. A bunch at trot, and some at canter. I'm going to build up the muscles needed to hold the two point for a little more every ride.
LOTS of forward trot. I've gotten myself a riding crop with a leather flap on the end (Ms N -- found it at the local TSC - score!), and I'll start using it. This means... ask for that trot, but then don't panic and grab rein when I get it. When Harley gives me the big trot he needs to get over those x's, I need to loosen my upper body enough to let him see the big trot is good.
LOTS of ground pole, x, ground pole, and leave the reins loose from up front, clear to a few strides away. I MUST learn to not slow him down just after. I need to feel that calm canter he gives away from the jumps.
After thinking about it, the really only other memorable thing from the lesson - elbows. "My body to my elbows are mine. Elbows to my hands are an extension of the reins, and belong to Harley." Focus on bending those elbows in the posting trot rather than going stiff & rigid. When he twists out, or leans out on the circle, push him out with my legs and meet him where he put his face. "Contact is not an option when I ride, and he must learn to accept it."
LOTS to work on, and it's got to get better from here. I realize it's minor... but I wish I'd done better. Ah well, there's always the next time.