Sprocket is ready for Novice…

So Sprocket is obviously ready for Novice. At home we’ve been schooling 3′ show jumps and it is crazy easy for him. And my eye is clicking in again for the bigger heights… as in, I’m no longer kicking for the long spot I’ve been accustomed to riding with Jack. Riding Sprocket is like riding a loaded spring. He just simply bounces his way around courses. Doesn’t matter how close we get, he springs over the jumps easily and I’m getting jumped out of the tack less and less. Such a good feeling!

And his flat work is solid. Sometimes a bit lazy but solid. We have been schooling leg yields, shoulder ins and trot and canter lengthens. At this point, he is almost competitive at Training level on the flat.

While walking the Training course at Waredaca last weekend, I looked around the BN and N courses as well. BN looked ridiculously easy. Novice did not look big, but some of the questions were seriously tough for the level. That made me a bit nervous. I’m mean, Sprocket is bold but if he doesn’t understand something he pauses and I started to doubt myself a little. I had already entered him Novice for the schooling event this weekend and was thinking I might have to bump down.

Then yesterday I had a xc lesson with Stephen over the course. Sprocket started out seriously up and threw in one buck in warm up. The more we did the more he settled, and thus I settled. I love how Stephen doesn’t have riders just jump one fence at a time. He knows that is not the way to teach horses to go xc. So yes, Sprocket would leap into his canter and kind of launch at the first jump of each mini course, but by fence two I was back in control.

I had to keep forcing myself to put my big girl pants on when Stephen would give us options on heights of fences. We jumped one Prelim roll top that felt amazing but also had me holding my breath in the air as I was not as tight in the tack as I should have been. I landed hard on Sprocket, who bucked, got a stern kicking and was back to behaving himself by the time we got to the next jump. I couldn’t help but smile though. It was a huge jump and he just did it.

We also did this Novice complex that was a hanging log, down into a gully, out the other side and over a BN sized log. Sprocket jumped in nicely and I was able to slide my reins like I’d do on a more experienced horse. In hindsight, I probably should not have slid them as much as I did but my body just clicked into that proper drop jump position automatically. Next thing I know, he is drifting a tiny bit right at the second but I was able to just funnel him in on a v’ed rein and with my legs only. It was like all the exercises Lucinda Green has riders do during her clinics and it totally worked for Sprocket. He got a bit more cocky after that.

We did have a stop at the Novice ditch. It was the first real ditch he had ever been asked to jump and he just didn’t understand how to get across it. Again, love Stephen for not making a big deal about it. He had me calmly but firmly tell him he had to go forward and on the fourth attempt he went over. And then over and over and over again. Yes, if it was a competition, we would have been eliminated but I’m not really worried. He’s a smart horse and once he figures something out, he gets it.

Then in a turning question near the end of the lesson, he pulled a shoe so we had to end early. I got off and hand walked him all the way back to the trailer and he jigged the whole time. I don’t think he was ready to be done.

So, he’s ready for Novice. I know I can jump around a Novice. Now I just need to keep my nerves in check. Easy right!

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