Despite originally opting for hoof boots for Rupert, and a lot of research later, Rupert’s feet got so sore that I didn’t have time to find the perfect boots for him, so he now has a pair of front shoes!
Whether it’s the shoes, the weather or just everything falling into place (I won’t hold my breath!), Rupert has been brilliant recently.
He has felt beautiful on the flat- happily accepting the contact whilst staying light in the hand, when he normally loves to lean and make me carry his whole head! I’m also starting to be able to get more expression in his paces from him, although this often comes with a lot of sass as he finds it very exciting. The most exciting thing though, on the flatwork-front, is that our progressive canter-walk transitions are now starting to just have a very few strides of trot. Anyone who knows Rupert knows that it can sometimes take half an arena to get him back just to trot from canter if he’s in a mood, so canter-walk transitions are a major step up for us both.
The last jumping lesson I had, about a month ago, Rupert was awful. He was convinced he knew best and then just decided he was not going to jump a fence that he’d been jumping for the rest of the lesson. The following week, I did roughly the same course that we’d done in the lesson the week before to try and get an improvement and wanted to treat it as a bit of a practice for a show. Lots of fillers came out, and we ended up with a large audience poo-picking in the surrounding fields and 4 children running around (well, one was roller-skating in a sumo suit!). He went over almost everything I asked, albeit getting incredibly close so the jump was always very awkward and definitely not pretty.
In my most recent jumping lesson, we worked on getting Rupert to take off where I wanted him to, not where Rupert thought was best. We first approached in a collected canter to get him close to the fence- where he’s comfortable. I then approached in a working canter to take off from a “normal” take-off point, which felt incredibly weird. I hadn’t realised that I’d got so used to Rupert burying himself under fences. We then came in a medium canter to get him to take off further away. I hadn’t felt nervous jumping for a while, but taking off from a long distance when I’m used to him getting so close definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.
By the end of the lesson, we were consistently taking off closer to where we should have been. Hopefully we can keep this up, as I feel like it is a massively important thing to improve that should help us to progress further and make jumping a lot easier for us both.