After putting what we'd learnt during our Yogi lesson into practice all week, our stronger contact was coming on a treat. Philippa recommended trying a very bendy, thick rubber mullen mouth loose ring bit, & taking away the flash.
We warmed up, and Louie felt good - relaxed, but keen and interested. We worked on a single pole between two wings, coming off both reins, working on our turns in & after, keep straight and keeping the correct bend on the left, and straight on the right.
Louie loves bending right and can do it all day long, so we want to take more control of the left shoulder and keep him naturally straighter.
He was doing well, although became keen on the left turn in. & as he finds this more difficult to take the bend left, we created a much softer turn on approach and afterwards. It worked well and he bent nicely to the left around the turns.
Next, up to a small upright. No problems here, except maybe me "fannying" about and not deciding on a stride, but after a telling from Philippa, we were sorted.
Philippa create a course of four jumps - a little oxer, dog leg to an upright, round the left corner to a 6-stride distance.
Very excited, we came round to start putting them together - there were fillers at the side of the first and big shadows behind it, so I gave a nice firm kick in the final stride....
The result... One very lit up pony, who took to enjoying the freedom of no flash and a soft bit! Not used to a stronger contact or SUCH a forward Louie, I wasn't quite sure how to react...All I knew was it needed calming down - I managed 4 strides in a 6 stride distance!!!! & actually when I was told to pull him up and that this bit won't hurt him, he chilled out instantly.
We then worked on a REALLY useful exercise - jump the fence, and halt ASAP after. We did this three times after the first, earlier each time, then after the second, then after the second fence on the 6 strides.
Why was it useful? Well, as I thought that I had to halt after the fence, I rode a much better rhythm to the fence, I knew I had to keep his balance, keep his rhythm, and get him listening to me.
(You should never do this exercise in front of a fence, or in a straight line related distance)
When we went on our final round, Louie was rhythmical, steady, but with good impulsion, and we were instantly able to ride our turns and straight lines much better!
It was also a good exercise to teach me to sit up, ride with my core and use the contact, not just a check or pull. I could instantly feel the difference in the first round and the last round, & key it was a much more harmonious round that we both enjoyed - I didn't need to pull and pull on Louie & he wasn't running so fast he barely had time to lift his legs!
Louie is a really quick learner so I'm looking forward to using this whenever we have this issue again, as it will come back to him, and won't take much effort at all for me to think halt, and have a better rhythm around the jumps, small or bigger.