I’ve decided to consolidate my posts about Henry here for now. I will start his own in the competition sub thread when we do our first show together next month! We had a blast together this week! We were able to ride Monday through Friday. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden him every single day since I’ve bought him. This was great for us because we also got lessons 4 days out of the 5. On Monday we had our first cross country outing together, I already posted about this. There was a lot of bucking involved due to him being fresh, feeling comfortable since his assumed ulcers are being treated, etc. It was my first time in 9 years to have a cross country lesson. My 2nd ever. I learned how to bridge my reins here but didn’t ever put it to use. I mainly just shocked some pony club kids that went home quoting me to their parents! “This is the jump where I die!” “Jesus take the reins!” As my strength to sit his bucks dwindled and he got more and more amped up. We ended on a good note though. Tuesday we did a dressage lesson where I hooked my outside pinky finger through the saddle pad strap to work on a steady outside rein contact. Boy he is a different horse when I am properly using my outside aids. His vet also came out to do a farm call so while she was there I gave them a sample for a fecal test for him since I was concerned about parasites. He was dewormed 6 weeks before I bought him mid August and I was going to work in conjunction with the barn I ride at. Well still nothing so I just felt uncomfortable waiting much longer. His results came back intermediate shedding for strongyles. So we treated him for that as well as the rest of his pasture buddies. I also googled some scary stuff about strongyles and aneurisms and that is how supposedly Carlisle died a few years ago so now I’m wondering if he had complications from those worms. Annnnyways. Wednesday we went back out cross country where we did our first trot canter conditioning sets. I went out with my trainer on her 5 year old thoroughbred. It felt great to let Henry get into a working canter that I felt in control of. I also heard how differently he breathes as he regulates his breathing in time with his canter strides, it was very neat! Everything was great up until the end when he was chomping at the bit ready to go and I wanted more regulation of his go button. Of course when I lost my nerve I hung onto his face instead of half halting and releasing, so his only way out was up with his head - zero control! No reading but it felt like I could go backwards at any moment. So that made me even more anxious and him too. We decided to walk the last small cross rail and get him to go quietly at a trot. Someone also told me that schooling cross country is often more difficult than just going out and doing it, in the reference to a horse getting amped up. The start and stop nature of schooling. Thursday we worked alone for about 30 minutes doing what we learned on Tuesday. My video shows me that when I think I have enough contact, I need more. I also tried to clip him. I’ve never clipped before but I watched several YouTube videos. I don’t think he has ever clipped before either. So I think this was a good go for our first time. He half heartedly set back when I got close to his head. So I worked a few more minutes and ended on a good note. My clippers were getting warm and I forgot about the clipper cooling spray. I’m hoping that exposure therapy will eventually desensitize him enough for me to do all the spots I want. Like his bridle path and under his jaw, but not his whiskers of course. It’s hard to do up his nose band when he’s so scruffy there without pulling the hairs. I also found what looks like a finger mole by his mouth. At first I thought it was a tick but it’s not. I plan to ask his vet when I take him back in a few weeks for chiro, repeat hoof x rays, coggins, vaccines, etc etc. Friday we had a jump school and he felt AMAZING. I learned so much, I had an “aha!” Moment with my half halts. I also learned that him and I need a job to do after every fence. If we have something to do then we are more controlled and not so fast. My aha half halt moment. Sitting up in canter, moving my pelvis not rocking my body, hands up, reins short, tighten hands and soften my seat and release the tightness in my hands. It was amazing to feel the cycle of that energy and it have an immediate effect on Henry. Even when he was amped up and ready to go, he responds! Pulling and standing in the stirrups completely interrupts the connection with him and does absolutely nothing to slow him down. Obvious right? Going back to the part about us needing a job to do after each fence, he will just speed off after a fence so when my trainer told me to add another fence in a bending line 3 strides away I was SUPER doubtful we would be able to make it. But surprise! No issues! I feel more confident on my half halts to the first fence but in between fences I need some practice still. But it was really great for today. If these pictures were in the critique section of Practical Horseman I'm sure George Morris would say my stirrups are WAY TOO LONG based on the knee angles. And He'd be right. So I will shorten them next time. Even though they feel pretty darn short! I’ve been trying to spell Henry’s name on the equilab app. Henry has definitely earned the weekend off! Tuesday we will practice our dressage test. On a side note, I’m so proud of my son for trotting around the arena by himself twice!