I have to say, I have been very pleased with our work since we've been back from Twin. We definitely had some solid issues there and although we got away with them mostly, we have to really nip them in the bud before we can even think about moving up.
Last weekend we took the horses to Woodside to school and it went really well. I'm starting to realize that XC really is not an issue for us and I need to stop riding like it is. This horse LOVES XC!! I just need to focus and let him do his job. We jumped most of the Training course and I can honestly say I'm not too worried. He did stop once at the log into the first water but I think as long as I am prepared it will be OK. It is pretty early on in the course and it's hard to say whether or not he'll be in his groove yet but if I ride strongly I think he'll go. We also got to jump the first two Prelim fences!!!! Neither are that big, I mean, they're the first fences, but it was still pretty exciting.
Tuesday we had a jumping lesson with Alexis and we decided to work on getting Gatsby to jump rounder, something we had noticed as an issue at Woodside. At this level, it really doesn't matter that much but, it will definitely effect us moving up. So, we put some draw reins on (Alexis also recommended that I ride in these more often to teach him how to carry himself). I was under the impression that these would magically change my horse and get him nice and round and I could just sit there and focus on me...NOPE! At least, not on my horse. I still worked my tush off even with the draw reins! We kept the fences fairly small, probably slightly lower than Training height and tried a variety of courses. When we finally felt that he had learned the lesson we took them off and just worked on a line, vertical to oxer. The line rode in about 4 strides I think but Alexis told me not to worry about distance. Gatsby jumped really well!! We kept putting the oxer up until the end when it was big, wide and scary with a pole across the top and he didn't even care! Love this horse.
Yesterday I had a short but sweet dressage ride. I worked the walk a lot before moving on to anything else and I think that helped him get down to business. He did feel slightly stiff from the day before though so I didn't do anything too crazy:) Just a little work with lengthenings and then lots of transitions towards the end. He almost always resists through the downward transitions so I decided to make him to some more difficult ones to really get his attention - canter-walk-canter-halt-canter and so on. By then end, he was really focused, relaxed, and attentive to what I was asking for:)
Today he will get the day off and the I will probably do another light dressage school before heading home for the weekend. Although I do want to keep him in steady work I don't want to push him too much as he tends to get burnt out and then blows me off when it really matters (at the show).